Specdrums: A fun techie tool for your music room!

14 September, 2017

I am SUPER excited today to blog about a new piece of technology I have in my music room...a Specdrums ring! I first learned about Specdrums from Katie Wonderly's awesome Instagram page. Then I found out that Amy Abbott had a ring coming, so I reached out to the Specdrums page and was able to get one for my classroom too!

Specdrums in the music room: A really fun piece of technology to practice melodic concepts!

So what is a Specdrum ring?

It is a ring that you can put on your finger, or students can put on their finger, and they can make music with it by touching different colors. So for example, if you touch red, it might play C, if you touch orange, it might play D, if you touch yellow, it might play E, etc.! You can create different tone sets in your app...the sky really is the limit!

Here's a video of me playing "We are dancing" with the ring:

So how do you make a tone set? Here's how it works:

You can also make a tone set by selecting a color with your ring and then tapping the letter you want.

So what might it look like to use it in your classroom?

If you only have one ring, here are some ideas:
  • "Play" the pattern while pointing to colors on your SMART board or white board, and students echo (great for visual learners!)
  • Do the same, but with a student leader
  • Have students figure out which color is which solfa after you play a song on the board
  • Have students decide which color they want for each solfa and make a tone set on the spot!
  • "Play" a song on kids: I got this idea from Amy Abbott...see her Specdrums blog post for an example! Choose three kids with the right-colored shirts...or make a default tone set on the spot! "Play" the song by tapping the kids on the shoulders (like the orange shirt for sol, red shirt for la, etc.)
If you have more than one ring, I think they could work really well in centers! I have one right now but am going to donate and receive two more, so that if I have six students at centers, students can work with a partner with a ring. Here are some ideas for centers (please note that you would need a device, such as an iPad or iPhone, for each ring students are working with, as the app needs to be open to use the ring):
  • Students get a tone ladder and songs in stick notation, and figure out how to play songs.
  • Students are told which solfa a song starts on and which solfa it uses, and they figure out how to play (great for inner hearing!)
  • Students work with solfa manipulatives (read more about them in this post); they can write a pattern with manipulatives and then play with the Specdrums ring!
  • Students work with colored notes on a staff and play the pattern
  • Students label colors with hand signs and/or solfa after playing around with the colors (again, great for inner hearing!)
  • Students play a song on a barred instrument such as glockenspiel with mallets, with the bars marked with colored stickers, then do the same thing but with the Specdrums ring!
  • Students create songs within a specific tone set.
Like I said, there are SO many possibilities! Make sure to check out Amy's blog for videos of the ring in action!

As I'm posting this, there is only ONE DAY left to donate to their kickstarter campaign! If you donate  $39 or more, you'll be sent one Specdrums ring, and if you donate $74 or more, you get two! If you'd like 10, you can get them by pledging $349 or more. The rings will be delivered to you in January of 2018.

Once I receive two more, I'll be posting again with more ideas for using the rings! If you already have one, please comment below with some ideas, or if you have any questions, please let me know by commenting below. Amy and I have created this FB group for music educators with the rings to share ideas, so please join if you're interested. Have fun!


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