Here's our suggestion for how you can use Tonematrix with your class to help facilitate creativity, dialogue and learning.
Visit our 'Free Online Beat Samplers' post for other similar music making resources.
First, provide a set time (2-10 minutes) for your group to 'play' without any limitation (make sure everyone has headphones!). At the end, everyone turns their volume down and each participant takes a turn to play their piece back to the group.
Immediately after each piece is heard by the group, ask for a description of the piece from the creator and the listeners. Note the descriptive words and musical ideas/terms that the group use on your board/flipchart as they arise. Introduce some alternative/common musical terms if appropriate.
*You may want to keep descriptions ('he only used five of the columns', 'a lot of boxes were lit up') and opinions/interpretations ('it was annoying, listening to it made me angry', 'I felt bouncy, and happy') in separate columns. Use these to reinforce the difference between facts and opinions. Encourage use of the word 'I' so that participants take ownership of their feelings without turning them into judgements ('It was boring' invites challenge and conflict, - 'no it wasn't'. / 'I thought it was boring because I didn't hear much going on' invites conversation and collaboration - 'I found the space relaxing, it reminded me of.....').
After each piece has been heard. Explain that you are now going to set a ToneMatrix competition, and the group has to decide on the rules.
You can either support the group to decide on their own rules (based on the words they have generated/learned, or from new ideas that come up). It may be more convenient to ask them to choose from a list that you pre-prepare (this could take away from the sense of ownership about the activity that the group has begun to develop).
*At some point, you may like to show a few inspiring examples from youtube. Maybe use these to generate more discussion.
Some competition suggestions (try combining a few!):
Use every other row.
Use groups of three columns.
Create an alternating pattern between two low notes and an accompanying melody on the higher notes.
Layer three patterns that repeat every four columns, with each pattern containing a limited number of notes/rows.
Make a piece that you interact with that lasts 30 seconds.
Make a piece that has a beginning, a middle and an end.
Create a piece inspired by a word (emotions, seasons, countries, sports......)
After the final performance, ask for votes and let the class choose a winner. A simple reward can be that the winner chooses the rules of the next task, and so on...
*Encourage dialogue, and provide opportunities for your class to use their new vocabulary. You could even ask for a short piece of writing about their favourite composition that uses the new words they have learned during the exercise.