Making Music in Your Library

January 4, 2016

MusicFirst Student App
MusicFirst Student App

MusicFirst Student App

Digital music education company MusicFirst has created an app that streamlines music education for students and teachers, using cloud-based solutions.

The MusicFirst Student App allows students to continue their in-school music learning outside of the classroom. When connected to a school or library’s MusicFirst Online Classroom subscription, the app lets students view and complete assignments, using their iPhones or iPads.

To access the work, a student username and password must be set up by a teacher, librarian, or school administrator. Upon login, students will see a list of tasks assigned to them. If an assignment requires the students to make a recording, the app provides a recorder that allows students to play directly into the microphone on their mobile device. A metronome is built into the app, and time signatures and beats per minute can be adjusted to make music creation even easier. After they are satisfied with their recording, students can use the app to submit the finished project directly to the MusicFirst cloud for their teachers to review from a desktop computer.

The MusicFirst Student App isn’t just a standalone product; it is integrated into two of the most successful cloud-based apps that MusicFirst offers, with complete integration of additional MusicFirst apps in the works. Focus on Sound, an app that introduces the sound of musical instruments and voices and educates students on musical terms using hundreds of photos, recordings, music scores, videos, and a fully integrated testing system; and Noteflight Learn, an app that offers access to a private online community for music education, complete with performance and assessment tools, can be accessed via the MusicFirst Student App. Tasks that have been assigned to students with these supplemental apps can be completed and submitted to the cloud via the Student App.

The MusicFirst Student App is compatible with all Apple iOS mobile devices and is available for free at the Mac App Store. Download it at

Cantata Learning

Cantata Learning music books
Cantata Learning music books

Cantata Learning is an educational publisher that creates books and music audio that address content areas for pre-K through 3rd-grade students, using familiar and original music, simple text, and age-appropriate illustrations. Simply put, the publisher pairs stories with music to reach kids.

Cantata offers books in a variety of genres: fiction, language arts, life sciences, math, science, social and emotional learning, and social sciences, as well as series books on animals, shapes, sing-alongs, and science biographies for younger readers. The music for each story is tailored to its specific audience: sing-alongs for younger children and illustrative, story-based songs for older children. The music comes on an accompanying CD and is also accessible online. Each book is fully illustrated and features a glossary and sturdy library binding.

Cantata also makes a variety of resources available on its website that teachers and librarians can use to enhance both their classroom presentations of Cantata books and their overall teaching methods, including videos, additional music, lesson plans, grade-specific teaching tips for Cantata titles, research, white papers, presentations, and printable posters.

Learn more about Cantata Learning at

Case Study: Whisper Room

Jeff Beavers
Jeff Beavers

Product: WhisperRoom, Inc.,

Details: The WhisperRoom is a sound isolation booth that significantly reduces ambient and acoustic noise from outside the booth. It can be used as a vocal booth for recording music, voiceovers, and translations, as a broadcast booth, musical instrument practice space, as a medical or audiology testing lab, and more.

User (left): Jeff Beavers, Makers in Loudoun Libraries (MILL) studio coordinator, Gum Spring branch of the Loudoun County (Va.) Public Library in Stone Ridge

Photo: Ken Pham
Photo: Ken Pham

How do you use your WhisperRoom? This past June, we opened the MILL Studio, Loudoun County Public Library’s first formal makerspace. The WhisperRoom is a prominent feature and provides our patrons an area to record with professional-level quality.

How does WhisperRoom serve your library’s needs? The WhisperRoom is one of the main attractions for the MILL Studio. Our teen and adult patrons regularly use the room to record music and podcasts. Many have expressed their gratitude for the space, saying they were previously spending more than $100 an hour to record in a commercial studio.

What are the main benefits? The main benefit is sound reduction. The WhisperRoom is not completely soundproof, and those recording can often be heard from outside—at the volume of a whisper. Sound from outside the WhisperRoom does not get in, though, and this is where the real value lies. Our patrons are able to record without any background or otherwise unwanted noise.

What would you like to see improved or added to the WhisperRoom? I would have liked to see more sound dampening foam included in the cost of the initial purchase. We had to buy a dozen additional panels to fully cover the interior walls. Without these, the room barely muffled someone inside. The panels also came with only two adhesive Velcro strips each. This was not enough to keep them on the wall. After attempting several different solutions, we had to use a staple gun to keep the panels hanging.


A woman using the card catalog at the main reading room of the Library of Congress, circa 1940.

The Evolving Catalog

Cataloging tech from scrolls to computers