Nov 2, 2016

How to Use Chromebooks to Record Playing Tests

Many schools now have a one-to-one Chromebook program which provides an excellent opportunity for students to perform and record their playing assessments. For directors looking for an alternative to traditional assessment methods, video assessments provide a viable option. Rather than using precious rehearsal time for individual assessments, directors can watch, listen and critique videos of their students playing tests at their convenience. It is an effective tool to assess playing skills like rhythmic accuracy, note accuracy, articulation quality, and dynamics. I have used it extensively as a way for my students to perform excerpts from their band music and for scale tests.

"My students often share how much time they spend recording their playing tests in order to record it perfectly."

In order to record a video on the Chromebook, your students will need to download a Chrome browser extension called Screencastify.  It’s free and can be accessed in the Chrome Web Store. Once installed and set-up, students can select the cam option to record using the front or rear-facing camera on the Chromebook. Mic level settings can be adjusted for optimum recording levels and videos can be saved to Google Drive or uploaded to YouTube.  It is important to instruct your students to save their video as “unlisted” for privacy purposes.

Your students will find it easy to record and submit their performance videos. So much can be learned from viewing and listening to your students individually perform. My students often share how much time they spend recording their playing tests in order to record it perfectly. Below are a few more helpful suggestions and advantages to ensure you and your students have a positive experience with video assessments.

Example of a student playing test as recorded with Screencastify and his Chromebook. (Yes he's playing the trombone correctly - video is mirrored.)

  • Students can record their performance as many times as necessary in order to submit their best work.
  • Some students feel less pressure recording a playing test by themselves, as opposed to in front of an entire ensemble.
  • Rehearsal time is not lost to in-class individual assessments.
  • Screencastify works seamlessly with Google Drive and saves all videos to one folder.  This allows students to record multiple “takes” of the same playing test while keeping the videos organized.
  • Video allows the director to assess posture and instrument hold in addition to music skills.
  • Videos can be shared with parents and students at anytime, as well as at parent-teacher conferences.

  • Take your time when teaching your students to install and set-up the Screencastify extension. Review again when assigning a playing assessment.
  • Practice recording a sample video in class and submitting or emailing the video link.
  • If your school does not have Google Classroom, students can email you a link to their video.
  • Provide written instructions to your students for recording with Screencastify. Here's mine!
  • Create a rubric to grade the assessments.  Quality feedback is essential to growth.
  • Brass players should focus the bell of their instrument away from the microphone for better audio quality.

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