Playing Music with Light

 Back at last school for the year! Yay! No more moving around!! I cannot tell you how difficult it is to pick up and move all of your things from school to school every marking period. It truly burns one out very quickly. I’m at this school until the end though and couldn’t be more excited!

  This week I’ve put a lot of focus on a new tool I’ve acquired for my classroom called the Beamz. It is a midi laser controller mainly for use with the Beamz app or software to create and interact with music samples. The device has been used from a piece of DJ equipment to a therapeutic device. I was blessed enough to get two for my classroom to try out and see what I really could do with them.

 Beamz

      How it operates is you can either use an iPad or plug into a computer. Each connects the controller to the Beamz control board where the samples will play from.

    If you connect to a computer:

  •      If you have a PC you must download the software first before you use it.
  •      If you have a Mac it is plug and play.
  •      Using the cord provided plug the controller into the USB port on the computer with the other end into the unit. This will also power it up. Make sure the switch on the back is also set to Midi.

      If you connect to an iPad:

  •      Turn on your Bluetooth and download the Beamz Interactive app which is free at the app store.
  •      Plug the controller into the wall using an iPad charger block from the iPad you will be using. This will power up your device.
  •     Open up the Beamz app and make sure you have the volume up to hear the samples as they play.

       In the control board it will give you one instrument for each of the 4 light beams and each instrument will sound when your hand breaks the beam. You can add a rhythm to the background, switch instruments and even record yourself!

           Check out a little intro video I did:  My Beamz

        Now this device was first meant to speed up therapeutic outcomes, as a DJ instrument, and as an alternative instrument for multiply handicapped people but my goal is to find out what else I can use it for in the regular classroom.

  • I’m using as a center station, two people at a time hooked up to an iPad recording and creating their own tunes.
  • This would be a great device to use in a STEAM activity talking about how light works and hacking it to use as a normal keyboard or controller sort of like how the Makey Makey works.
  • Talk about how awesome this would be as a way for students to mix their own background tracks for original lyrics!
  • How about a dance party? Change up the tempo and talk about moving fast and slow or even turn the volume up and down and have students change movements.
  • This would be pretty awesome to add into a traditional ensemble.
  • You could even talk about duets, trios, and quartets having 1 student for each beam playing their own part!

      Endless possibilities right? I sure am excited about it and have found time to really get acquainted to the instrument myself. My Mom is using one of my controllers at her school this week and we have seen some really cool results!

       For more information and where to purchase check out www.thebeamz.com

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