I was browsing the Microsoft Education website the other day and came across Songsmith – which is a very clever application that will develop a soundtrack to accompany a singer’s voice. Songsmith will allow the composer to choose from thirty different musical styles from Rock, Hip Hop, Dance, Techno, Jazz and Blues. Users can download a free trial which will work for six hours of actual use before purchase online from the Microsoft store (it costs $25 or €29) is necessary. However there is even better news for educators and schools. Microsoft offered it free of charge to educators in the UK some time ago and following on from the positive responses from teachers there, they extended the free offer to the US and other countries. In order to avail of this free offer all you need to do is sign up for a Windows Live account and download the Academic version from
(If you find that clicking on the link above doesn’t work, copy the shorcut and paste the link in again after signing into Windows Live)
Songsmith will run on a pc with Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or higher, Windows Vista or Windows 7. It requires 1gb ram and a cpu of at least 1ghz. I found that I had no problem running it on an older XP machine with a 1.8 ghz cpu and 1 gb ram. It requires that the Microsoft .NET version 3.0 is installed but will prompt you to download and install it if required.
I am looking forward to playing around with Songsmith during the holidays and trying it out in school with pupils next year. Not only does it have great potential for the Composing strand in the Music curriculum but it could also liven up lessons in other curricular areas such as Gaeilge etc. when children write their own songs, advertisements and poems and add a music track to them. I see it as another great creative tool for the development of oral language in the primary classroom which could be used not only in langauge lessons but also in other subject areas. How about getting children to record their own tables rhymes in Mathematics? To find out more about Songsmith and view some videos visit the Microsoft Research Sonsmith page at