Palm-sized instrument makes creating music easy for Anaheim elementary students

The music-making tool might prove to be an effective way to deliver the cognitive and social benefits of music.
ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- A local public school district is piloting a program that teaches students how to use rhymes and melodies to express their feelings.

Studies show that students with four years of arts and music classes in high school scored on average 92 points higher on the SAT than students who took one year or less. Some schools have been reworking the music curriculum for the return of in-person classes.

"When we opened our doors from the pandemic, the first thing we focused on in our music classes were having fun and bringing students back, making music together," said Mark Anderson, curriculum specialist for the Anaheim Elementary School District.

The program, "Orba and Feelings," has launched at Paul Revere Elementary School and focuses on having students create sounds on an Orba - the newest music tech instrument from Artiphon that aims to make music approachable for children of all ages.

The music-making tool, priced at around $100, directs the children's energy into creating something shareable.

"The kids are already (fidgeting) with their devices. And so, it's just kind of a natural progression," said Rosalee Sparks, a music teacher at Revere. "It's just very spontaneous, or it could be structured. There's all sorts of applications you can use with it."

The tiny synthesizer can fit into the smallest of hands, and the ability to record and layer four different sounds can be learned quickly.

Emma Supica, an education coordinator at Artiphon, says the act of creating and making is valuable for children.

"There is this output that you created this true song, this beat this loop, whatever it is, that then can serve as foundation for even more creation," Supica said.

Orba is easier to use than traditional instruments and adaptable for each grade level at Revere.

Music therapists are seeing the potential of this new tech tool.

"The Orba is really adaptable to any student group," Anderson said.

Traditional instruments remain critical to the music program at Revere.

But music technology might prove to be an effective way to deliver the cognitive and social benefits of music.

"Trying to get them to persevere through math or through reading, maybe they're not as successful at those things," Sparks said. "But if they can be highly successful at something in music, then that's their takeaway for the day, then we're doing what we're supposed to do."

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