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Jim Tavegia
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Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 4:27pm
Classroom music systems

Since I have spent this last year teaching math and coaching football, basketball, and baseball at the middle school level one audio issue has come to light. I am doing my part to fix it.

Most teachers are doing a lot of multimedia presentations in the classroom these days. This requires a decent video source, but it always seems that audio is short changed.

We have teachers who have large televisions and even LCD projectors in their classrooms. There are even extra projectors for teachers to borrow that at avaialble from the media center/library for check out.

I have just finished with summer school and have been searching for free or nearly free audio systems off the internet. I have so far found 3 that I have given to teachers who I know will use them.

Here outside Atlanta we have a number of counties that have very active freecycle.org web sites that citizens offer various items for free. My wife spends more time on the computer than I, so if see sees anything "audio" she finds me to see if it is something I can use for school.

I have found and repaired a DVD player with a built in 6 channel amp(s) with the 5 speakers and sub. I did have to remove 14 crayons, 1 carebear toy, and a large school eraser from the sub cabinet, but once I fixed the drawer mechanism it sounds very good for classroom use. I had to recover the sub grill, but the Literature teacher I gave it to will get good mileage out of it for story telling and classic literature video playback.

Someone else had an old pair of Realistic 3 way speakers that all is wrong is the 15" woofer foam surrounds are dried out. A $35 set of surrounds from www.newfoam.com will fix that and they should sound just fine for Middle School use.

I also found a old set of Fisher speakers that are in very good shape and I have found an older receiver with built-in cassette decks. It will work fine. They can add audio from the computer sound card for DVD/CD/Internet playback.

This may seem odd to some, but when you consider that many of the these teachers are using cheap computer speakers to feed audio into a 20' x 20' classroom, something more is needed. Plus, hopefully, this will expose some of the students to better sound than they have been getting.

I am moving to a brand new school next year with new computers, computer integrated "whiteboards" that are the latest rage, but audio is totally overlooked in all of this.

For my classroom I found an old Technics SA 425 stereo receiver (50 watts.ch) that is in mint condition off Ebay for $30. I have an old pair of AR 15s that will be coming to school along with a Toshiba DVD player. I will get a larger LCD HD TV for the classroom and have a pretty nice 480P video/audio set up for nearly no money.

I have an old Hafler preamp that I am now looking for a small, basic amp for. I already have another pair of speakers for it. My goal is 6 audio systems for this summer's project.

I would urge you if you know of a teacher(s)in your area try and help them get the audio portion of their classroom up to speed with all the great video going on. Check www.freecycle.org (usually done by county) in your area and find some good, used, free audio for some teacher you might know.

Our high school graduation rate here in GA is slightly above 50%. Anything I can do to get middleschool students to pay more attention to a lesson is a good thing. See if you could locally help to. Thanks

Elk
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Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Classroom music systems

Great post, Jim.

Everyone thinks to donate their used computer to a school but rarely thinks audio.

A couple of friends and I have found that approaching the band and choir directors is a good approach. They often need better equipment and usually have at least a basic understanding of how to use it/what to do with it.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Classroom music systems

Thanks. One thing I have enjoyed doing this year is recording all the chorus and band performances for both the High School and the Middle School. This has given the students a chance to critique their own performances, something they had never done before. I was amazed at how many (most) had never, ever heard themselves perform.

The new High School Music director, Casey Eubanks, has created an indoor, symphonic band out of the players in the Marching Band. The kids worked hard and won a state competition in the spring. It was great fun for me to carry my recording rig to the band room or to a concert, record it, to help them "hear themselves" and work on getting the proper tone from their instruments and how to "play together" and achieve a cohesive sound.

Its all great fun for me.

Elk
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Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Classroom music systems

That would be fun.

My junior high and HS band directors always recorded the concerts, but I don't know how common that was at the time. The results were always sobering for the band.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Classroom music systems

Most of us in this side of the hobby would have great fun recording their local school concerts. It would take little more than a $89 M-Audio Audio Buddy 2 channel mic preamp and 2 Behringer 8000 omni mics that are $100 for a pair. The kids started working harder once they heard themselves perform. Who could play a baseball game without BP, and if in a slump not watch some video? Same thing to me.

ChiDave1
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Joined: Jan 19 2008 - 4:50pm
Re: Classroom music systems

This is a really great thread. Everybody can agree on helping kids who are into any kind of music. I know more rock musicians than audiophiles and can see them helping. Even I've got an audiobuddy for home recording. It's easy for me to imagine lots of tech savvy musicians jumping at the chance to help schools like this. You guys have inspired me to pass on this idea.
In fact, in a couple of hours I'm going to see a friend who helps with Rock for Kids, http://www.rockforkids.org, in Chicago and am going to bring this up.

Elk
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Re: Classroom music systems

linden518
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Re: Classroom music systems

I love what you guys are doing for the kids, Jim & ChiDave! Jim, I rue the fact that I didn't have a middle school teacher as cool as you, but I hope my 2 baby daughters meet great teachers like you. It's people like you who sway & influence the kids in the right direction... we all have mentors whom we cannot forget.

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