Interview with Drew Burns, creator of SongTorch

Drew Burns at TMEA
Drew Burns demos his materials at the Music in Motion booth at TMEA

Drew Burns is a music education specialist from Perth, Australia, known for his innovative teaching tools including Black Belt Recorder Karate. He has recently released a cool new music platform called SongTorch, which he’ll demo at the upcoming Texas Music Educators Convetion in San Antonio on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, 1:45pm – 2:45pm. We interviewed him about SongTorch:

Tell us a little about yourself. What is your background, and how did you get started?

Many of my family members are music specialist teachers in education system in Perth, Australia. I followed in their footsteps and got my degree from Edith Cowan University. After working for 10 years at various schools I started helping others teacher music. I went on the start a company called IJAM Music. We supply books, CDs and workshops. Recently we added software to the mix. It’s has made my job very exciting. The innovations we have developed have had reaching implications for education, music and publishing.

What is Songtorch?

Sample of music in zoom view (viewing one line at a time, bouncing ball style) - from Jam 2016
Sample of music in zoom view (viewing one line at a time, scrolling) – Taylor Swift’s “Mean” from Jam 2016

The original idea was to make a better version of the old bouncing ball. Remember that ball that appeared over the lyrics as you sung them? 🙂 But that was just the start. The idea was to make it work in away that anyone could create scrolling music easily and share or sell it to everyone. We are all creating amazing resources everyday. Why not have a format that will allow us to share or sell our awesome ideas? So I created SongTorch, a free app that allows you to create, share, sell or buy great songs and multimedia books and do it on any device– PC, Mac, iPad/iPhone/iPod, Android, Amazon, Data projector and IWB.

I see that SongTorch allows you to create a “Multimedia Book.” What is that, exactly?

Basically it’s a digital book that you can open on any computer or mobile device, and can contain almost anything: Songs, text, pics, worksheets, website links, video links, animations, talking characters, interactive activities, student instrument testing, sounds, colorful art and so much more. They are easy to create with our free software. Even better, you can access the same multimedia book from multiple devices at the same time! After you create a book, you can share them for free — or sell them, if you wish– on Apple’s iTunes AppStore or the Google Play Store. Students can get free student versions, teachers can track student progress, and free help is always available. There are also publishers out there looking for people who have SongTorch skills, so the opportunities are endless.

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Jam 2016 sample screen

How can SongTorch help me in my classroom?

Imagine no longer having to printout lyrics or worksheets. Whole choirs can see the notation and lyrics scroll by while singing to the vocal, instrumental or harmony versions of the songs. Students can complete fun interactive activities on their computer or portable device and teachers track their progress without having to make or print worksheets (but if you like worksheets, multimedia books allow you have them, too).

What has been the response from teachers and students to your products?

In the last 3 years it’s gone from almost no use of IWBs in school music rooms in Australia to almost every room buzzing with constant use. And the non-music staff have hooked onto it as well. A school can have 99 devices logged in at once. So a music teacher can suggest a song for a class to practice for a small performance and class teacher can login within seconds and have it going on their projector, TV or IWB for the class to sing along with.

How can I create my own multimedia book with SongTorch?

It’s free and easy. Just download SongTorch from the direct links below. Then register on Songtorch.com (or if you’re already registered with one of our other sites, you can use your existing registration from www.ijamed.com, www.blackbeltrecorder.com, or  www.songbackings.com).

For desktop computers:

For phones and tablets:

The application is easy to use, and includes help videos. For free technical assistance, I’m available via email: drew@ijam.com.au or skype: drew.i7

Where can I buy your materials?

You can get our products from Music in Motion. Here are the direct links:

Can I see you in person to ask questions?

I’ll be in San Antonio, TX for the week of Feb 8, presenting at the Texas Music Educators Association annual conference. I have a great clinic on Wednesday, Feb, 10, 1:45-2:45pm.  Ill be in the Music in Motion booth (2000 aisle) on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, so come see me and I’ll show you how it all works. Answering questions and helping people is what I love. Bring your device or laptop. :0)