My accidental discovery

I was using the Explain Everything iPad app a couple of weeks ago (Explain Everything allows you to make “explainer” videos quickly and easily on your iPad) and it occurred to me that the red laser pointer which can be used to point out things when you’re recording your video looked just like the red bouncing ball in the “follow the bouncing ball” lyrics videos I remember from childhood. Are they still around now?

I put together a quick test-song. In the app I typed the lyrics of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, with the syllables separated (the way I would type lyrics into a notation program such as Sibelius or Finale) and then locked them in place on the screen.

After selecting the laser pointer option, I pressed record, started singing and pointed to each syllable with the laser pointer.

Magic! When you play back the video, the laser pointer appears to move across the lyrics on its own!

Video example

Here’s my example:

I decided to poll Facebook-land to see if other music teachers would find a tutorial on how to create your own bouncing ball videos useful and the answer was a resounding “yes”!

Step-by-step instructions

Here are the step-by-step instructions [free downloadable version with pictures below]

BEFORE STARTING: download the Explain Everything app

1. Open Explain Everything, go to Settings menu and on the Record tab, next to Screencast recording quality, select 60 frames per second

2. Tap the Start a new project button (plus sign at top left) and select the first colour template.

3. Select the Text tool, tap on the empty slide and type the lyrics of your song with hyphens between syllables and a space underneath each line. You can tap and hold your finger on the Text button to select a different font and font size. Resize the box using the blue corner arrows if you need to spread the lyrics out. You may need to continue the lyrics on the next slide – that’s OK, because when you make the video recording you can advance through the slides

4. Lock the lyrics in place on the screen (this will stop the block of lyrics moving around later on): select the Inspector tool, and then tap on the block of lyrics. Tap on the Lock tab and then tap the Lock icon to lock them down

5. Get ready to record! Select the laser pointer (I used the middle-sized option)

6. Press the Record button at the bottom of the screen

7. Sing the song and drag your finger (the laser pointer) along the screen, pointing to each syllable in time. Advance to the next slide if necessary.

8. Press the Record button (or the Pause button) when you’ve finished to end the recording

9. Save your project: tap the folder icon at the bottom right of the screen, name your project and tap Save

10. Tap the Export Movie button and select your preferred option. I chose Movie to Camera Roll, but you might like to export directly to Dropbox, Google Drive or one of the other options

11. Locate the video and play it back to admire your handiwork!

Other ideas

1. One of the teachers on Facebook asked whether you could include guitar chord symbols. No problem – just type them in at the same time as typing the lyrics. You’ll need to make sure everything lines up the way you want it to, but it’s definitely possible. You could even create a chords-only version if you prefer a clearer screen.

2. Instead of lyrics, import a image of a score so that the bouncing ball can follow along with the notation.

3. Have the students draw their own stick notation using the pen tool in Explain Everything and then create their own bouncing ball video which shows them following along with the rhythm as you play it.

Download a printable copy of the instructions (with pictures!)

IMPORTANT PLEASE NOTE: As mentioned above, you will need to download the app Explain Everything to create these videos.  The instructions below show you how to use the app to create the bouncing ball videos.

Click on the button below (or the image) to have a printable copy of the instructions sent to your email inbox (you’ll also be sent a useful weekly tech tip article just like this one!).

Download instructions

More iPad Music Project Ideas!

iPad Projects for the Music Classroom includes 22 step-by-step projects you can use straight away with your music students. Take the guesswork out of choosing apps and discover how you can use iPads in an engaging and meaningful way.

Click on the image below for more information.

iPad Music Education Ebook