If you're here, it's probably because you've signed up for a licensed subscription with Upbeat. Welcome! This guide will help you get started quickly and effectively. Here are some of the most important things to consider before you get started:
Particularly if you are using a Chromebook (but even if you aren't), it is important to follow each step in the first section of the troubleshooting guide. Following these guidelines will ensure that you get the best possible performance out of your device.
To get everyone to understand how the product works, and the multiple benefits of the platform, they should see it in action. If possible, get a colleague or group member who knows the application, or a student who has a bit of experience with it to show everyone in live demo. Perhaps start in Zoom, share your screen to an Upbeat Music window, and do the whole thing: create a room, setup, virtual tour of the app, record a short video, download it, and submit it (to Schoology, Google Classroom, etc) if applicable. Members may be eager to just get going, but the more they see the product work successfully, the more they will be likely to push through the technical learning curve of their first few recording attempts.
If you have a lot of students, using the school email accounts will be helpful with all aspects of organization with Upbeat Music. When you get your school’s license keys, being able to connect which key goes to which student via their school email account will prove helpful when it comes to managing their accounts, and connecting projects to their Google Classroom, Schoology, Canvas, and more platforms. It will also be helpful with troubleshooting any new issues that arise, knowing that all students are connected to the same (Google) suite.
There are several ways to do this. Consider having members record and submit a video themselves doing a "set up" that you can watch it back to provide feedback. You could also have everyone complete a setup edpuzzle such as this one, which may help them understand how the calibration works. Another suggestion is to create as small of groups as possible, and have them record something where they just clap 8 times. There is no quicker way to determine if your calibration is correct than seeing a single clapping sound wave.
Teach members to create rooms. Consider creating a Google Sheet, such as this one, with all the information (groups, room ID) to help organize all the information that your members need. Let room leaders edit this document to input their room IDs for the rest of their room. This also allows the you to jump from room to room as needed. Finally, have leaders notify you when everyone is in the Upbeat room.
The instrument provides a barrier that may get in the way of a successful first recording project. The magic of this application lies in the first time a recording lines up, and this can be achieved with a very short counting exercise, such as "1&2&3&4&", or even just counting quarter notes. To try to get a precision recording right away, use claps, and you can determine some of the nuance specifics of your machine.
With any application using a camera in a school setting, issues of privacy can come into play. Note that as a function of Upbeat when you record, the camera automatically turns itself on even if their video is off in the Upbeat room. Make sure everyone know about this. If participants have privacy concerns with their camera being on for recordings, you can work around this by placing a sticky note or paper over the computer’s camera.
Upbeat can function as a rehearsal space, similar to where you can mute everyone else, and have one player be the leader player for the room to respond to. When approaching this app with a new group for the first time, making sure they know each other’s names will be helpful — the icons do not show the student names in Upbeat. Standard chamber music rehearsal strategies can still apply. This includes holding discussions on how to address each other in such a setting, how to discuss areas of improvement in a professional way, and how to build to a goal of a final musical product all can be happy with. The new layer of course is being able to troubleshoot any technological errors that come up by practicing patience and kindness.
New users might have trouble with uploading their recordings, slow internet, balance due to practice space, and so forth. Have everyone focus on the MUSIC and aim for a product they can be proud of. That said, they are recording for smaller projects, have them limit themselves to 2 or 3 attempts any time they go into the recording button. This will keep the pace of the rehearsal going. If the skill isn’t learned, it won’t be fixed by just recording it several times. They will need to practice! During rehearsals, targeting musical elements such as subdivision, notes/intonation, and rhythm will inevitably make recordings better and is rewarding.
For large groups, when your users are in an Upbeat room, it is possible they will not be in direct contact with you if you are helping another room rehearse. Considering you will likely have closed any Zoom/Meet/Teams video chat session to save on your bandwidth, consider having a Remind.com or similar text chain with your class to communicate and troubleshoot as needed. If that doesn’t work, perhaps a FAQ page or shared Google doc would be helpful.
The days of having the nice auditorium with a shell, and forgiving reverb are gone, at least temporarily. Recording in Upbeat Music will show you exactly which areas of your musical development need the most work, specifically your rhythmic integrity and intonation. Those who have these struggles will need to reach a certain level of proficiency in the music being recorded for the product to work. This might mean doing more rhythmic warmups than usual, or using more drones in rehearsal. I would heavily encourage anyone making recordings for a concert on Upbeat to use grade level literature that is one, if not two steps below the level of the musicians skill set, at least, for the first performance. By doing this, you can establish the precedent that quality will take time and a dedication to detail. There should be no shame in the first “performances” from Upbeat Music being only 30 seconds, 1 minute, or 2 minutes long.
If you have not made a recording with Upbeat that you are proud of, it is hard to appreciate the value of the tool for education and rehearsal. There is truly no other tool out there that allows you to create an "in the moment" recording that provides instant satisfaction for a group of people. Once you get this feeling, you won’t turn back!
We hope you find this guide useful! Feel free to Contact Us if you have any questions.
Thanks to Jonathan Glawe (Pioneer High School) and Amadeus Twu (Michigan State University) for contributing the initial version of this guide.