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 Published On: 22 Jan, 2024

Content Development

My name is Joe, and I am the content developer at Junior Jam. My role involves coming up with creative, engaging, and informative resources for both children and staff. Given that these resources are shared and taught to children of all levels, it's crucial to generate fun ideas for all ages and abilities, all while enhancing their musical and creative skill set.

My venture into content development for Junior Jam began with crafting fun, short videos for our social media. These videos showcased me playing famous songs on various instruments we teach, using editing to play multiple instruments simultaneously, creating recognisable melodies and harmony. For instance, one video featured me playing all parts of TOTO's "Africa" on the Boomwhackers, the Glockenspiel, and various percussion instruments. This format sparked the idea for a new course, where children would play different instruments together to form well-known and popular songs as a class—later known as Class Jam.

And so the development of Class Jam started, aiming to design a fun and interactive course teaching children to play confidently and competently as a full class. Our goal was for children to learn a variety of well-known songs within just 7 sessions. To achieve this, we introduced play-along videos, a key component enhancing children's engagement and learning. Drawing inspiration from the Guitar Hero video game series, these videos featured notes traveling towards a play zone, prompting the player to strike the note at the right time.

Firstly, I created custom backing tracks featuring the instruments of which the pupils would be using, this would serve as a guide for crafting the note paths as well as making the backing track feel more relevant and informative towards the instrumentation of the course. The software used to develop these backing tracks was Ableton Live, a music production software. Once all of the backing tracks were created, it was now time to work on the play-along videos.

To create these videos, I used a combination of Adobe Photoshop and Telecast Screenflow. I used Photoshop to generate note paths, later animated in Screenflow to scroll along the screen in sync with the music. The note paths represent the entire melodic and harmonic content of the songs laid out horizontally, with each row representing a new instrument. I measured each note musically, then converted the measurements into pixels. Since most children were playing at a beginner level, the melodies were transcribed to be on-the-beat, translating visually to 80 pixels per 1/2 beat or 160 pixels per beat. This ensured accurate mapping of notes, preventing the note path from slipping out of time with the backing tracks. I timed the paths to sync with the music by animating the note paths to move between the first note and last note and aligning this to the first note and last note within the backing tracks, this process occurred in Screenflow.

Additionally, Photoshop was used to create engaging overlays, features, background, and branding for the video that would be exciting for pupils and staff leading the sessions. The course features a total of 15 play-along videos across 4 levels, with each session breaking down the melody, harmony and percussion parts in preparation for the performances of each video. The course has been a great success across many schools, with children coming away from it feeling confident in their abilities and competent in their musical skills within a group setting.

In conclusion, my journey as a content developer at Junior Jam has been immensely rewarding. From crafting engaging social media videos to innovating the Class Jam course, the evolution has been both creative and impactful. The success of Class Jam, with its play-along videos and interactive approach, has resonated well in schools, fostering confidence and competence among children in a group musical setting.  

Looking ahead, my commitment to creating content continues with the introduction of an online training system. This system, featuring informative videos and interactive quizzes, ensures that our staff are well-equipped and confident in delivering an exceptional Junior Jam experience every time. The positive reception from the team affirms that we look forward to even more success in bringing the joy of music and creativity to schools and students in the future.

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