Teachers’ Portal



Welcome

Welcome to the Songzap Teachers’ Portal, where you can find a wealth of recourses designed to help you teach aspects of recording and song-production technologies to music students of all levels. Songzap is a simple, yet powerful, piece of software for recording music and crafting songs on the mobile phone or a tablet device. It helps musicians familiarise themselves with recording technology, capture inspiration on the go, develop songwriting skills, improve and reflect on their performances, craft their own demos, and prepare for pro-recording studio scenarios and collaboration.

We are aware that recording studio software often has a steep learning curve (and comes at a considerable expense), so we designed Songzap as an accessible alternative to multitrack recording and music production simply using the iPhone or iPad microphone. We’ve also designed it with Education in mind: the basic version is free but comes fully loaded with multi-tracking, song-arranging, beat-programming and mixing features (everything you need to start teaching music technology); the premium version unlocks additional features, such as intelligent bass and keys accompaniments, chord recognition, loop recording, cloud backup and advanced mixing capabilities.

Songzap is useful for many different types of students and can be used by all age groups. For example, Songzap and the learning materials provided can be helpful for teaching:

  • School children who are developing an interest in music technology and music recording software;
  • College-level music students who are learning the skills of songwriting and capturing their song performances for sharing and reflective practice;
  • University-level music students who are not experienced with music recording software, but need to record song demos and material for assessments;
  • Experienced music production students who want to experiment with creative methods and utilise different production software types, to remain broadly-skilled and up-to-date.

Download Resources

Here, you can acquire access to the supporting materials of the six-part Songzap Course: Songwriting and Recording on Mobile Devices, which include:

  • 81-page programme handbook for teachers;
  • 169-slide lecture presentation complete with illustrations, graphics and animations.

We’ve also created a user-facing, online version of the course, while you can find further guidance on additional topics on the Songzap User Guide and Blog, which also include many hours of video tutorials to support self-learning.

Feel free to use these resources in your own teaching; and modify the materials to your liking, particular topics and programme outcomes.

Collaborate with Us

We would love to hear from you, and we are happy to customise the resources, adapt them to your needs, and come visit your institution to provide workshops and masterclasses. Get in touch with us and let us know how we can help! It is also possible to acquire a number of Songzap licenses with an educational discount for institutions that are registered with the Apple Education Programme.

About the Songzap Creators

Songzap and its associated learning materials are developed by Professor Rob Toulson and Dr Mike Exarchos. You’re in good hands, we are experts in music education and are successful music artists and music producers, too – Mike even holds an MTV award for his original work! We built Songzap for musicians as well as for ourselves, so that we can have fun creating songs, responding to inspiration on the go and taking musical ideas to a higher level.

Prof Rob started his career as a software engineer with a doctorate in digital signal processing, before following his passion and moving into the field of music technology. Rob has held a number of academic research roles in his career, including Professor of Creative Industries at University of Westminster and Director of the CoDE Research Institute at Anglia Ruskin University. Rob has been an undergrad and postgrad music course leader at both University of Westminster and Anglia Ruskin University, and he has been External Examiner to numerous music courses at UK universities. Rob is also a successful singer, guitarist, drummer, music producer and sound designer, having worked with many artists including Talvin Singh and Mediaeval Baebes, who have previously topped the UK Classical Music Chart. Rob is an author and editor on a number of music-related books and articles, including Drum Sound and Drum Tuning, published by Routledge in 2021. His sound design work has been included in films by BAFTA Winner Shreepali Patel, and has been showcased and exhibited at Glastonbury Festival, The V&A Museum, The Natural History Museum and the Ruskin Digital Gallery.

Dr Mike holds a doctorate in hip-hop musicology and is an award-winning rap artist and producer (MTV Best Greek Act, 2008) with nominations for multiple VMAs and an MTV Europe Music Award. As well as beat-making and rapping, Mike also performs piano, bass, guitar, percussion, and a range of analogue synthesisers, samplers and electromechanical keyboards. He has led programmes in music recording, mixing, mastering and audio production at various UK universities, including London College of Music (University of West London), and has published extensively with Routledge, Bloomsbury Academic, and the journals of Popular Music, Popular Music Studies and Popular Music Education. Mike’s studio career began as a sound engineer at Vault Recording Studios in London, where he worked with pioneering British hip-hop acts, including Klashnekoff, Bury Crew, Skinnyman and Taskforce. Under his Stereo Mike alias, he has produced three critically-acclaimed solo albums, and numerous singles for international artists on labels such as EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner Music. His self-produced album, Xli3h, has been included in the 30 Best Greek hip-hop albums of all time. Mike recently released 69-track album KATALH3H (Beats Deluxe) to accompany his book Reimagining Sample-based Hip Hop, published by Routledge in 2023.

Let us know if you would like us to talk with your students!

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this course using Songzap, students who have engaged with taught and hands-on practical content will achieve the following learning outcomes:

  • Understand the importance of music recording for developing and professional musicians;
  • Understand and be capable of using simple audio recording software applications;
  • Be able to program drum beats in a number of time signatures and for a number of musical styles and genres, using a simple touch screen interface;
  • Be competent at multitrack recording of different instruments, voices and sound sources;
  • Be able to mix a multitrack recording using simple mixing processes and audio effects;
  • Arrange a song with sections such as verse, bridge, chorus, intro, outro, instrumental, etc.;
  • Be able to export mixed songs and audio data for sharing and archiving;
  • Understand the requirements of a musician in preparing for a professional recording studio session.

Teaching Methods

The best courses use a number of teaching methods that can be adapted to the specific needs of the cohort being taught. In the Songzap Course we encourage teachers to give students an interactive learning experience that incorporates:

  • Background theory and explanation of core concepts relating to the subject being discussed;
  • Demonstration of prior creative work (i.e. music examples) to inspire students;
  • Exemplar and student-led analysis of commercial music, exploring different drum beats, song arrangements, lyrics and approaches to songwriting and music production;
  • Hands-on exercises using Songzap to achieve particular goals or tasks;
  • Sharing, performance/playback and reflection of creations in class groups, with discussions and peer feedback;
  • Where relevant, extension research exercises – facilitating students in self-managed learning to extend their knowledge in areas of particular interest.

Note that this course, as provided, is not assessed. We believe that for a creative learning exercise the only summative measure should be engagement. If students engage in all aspects of the course and take part in the discussions, analysis and reflection exercises, then their learning will be consolidated. There is no need to judge one piece of music against another, or against an objective benchmark – learning with Songzap should be fun and rewarding without the need for grades or formal summative assessment. But of course, feel free to use Songzap in your formal assessments if you wish, too!

Course content

Lesson 1

Introduction: Songwriting and recording

  • Getting started with Songzap
  • The elements of song creation
  • Values of recording music
  • Musical collaboration

Lesson 2

Crafting drum beats and recording to a groove

  • Reviewing Songzap’s Groove Designer
  • Crafting beats
  • The value of rhythmic practice
  • Recording to a beat

Lesson 3

Layering parts and multitrack recording

  • Concepts of multitrack recording
  • Exploring Songzap’s Tracking page
  • The value of layering and recording practice
  • Recording multitrack layers (and importing a backing track)

Lesson 4

Crafting structure: arrangement and composition

  • Song arrangement and analysis
  • Exploring Songzap’s Arrange page
  • Elements of structure: rhythm, harmony and instrumentation
  • Arranging a song with Songzap

Lesson 5

Shaping the sound and pre-production/mixing

  • Exploring Songzap’s Mixer
  • Elements of a mix
  • Mixing a multitrack song
  • Bouncing down and sharing

Lesson 6

Exporting, sharing and collaboration

  • From demo to studio (… to release)
  • The studio workflow and personnel
  • Exporting Songzap data to a DAW
  • What’s next?