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.

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 (or if you’re already registered with one of our other sites, you can use your existing registration from,, or

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: 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)

MUSIC MEMORY CONTEST: A Four-Generation Texas Tradition

FOUR GENERATIONS OF MUSIC MEMORY When Mollie Tower-Gregory got the idea for a Music Memory Contest in Texas elementary schools in 1977, encouraged by her father’s elementary school music experiences, she never dreamed that it would one day involve thousands of students and spread across the country. The Music Memory program now encompasses thousands of… Continue Reading

Opera at the Movies: Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD 2012-13 Season

2012–13 Live in HD Schedule Enjoy another spectacular season of the Metropolitan Opera in movie theaters around the world. Find a movie theater near you. Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore–New Production October 13, 2012, 12:55 pm ET U.S. Encore: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time Canada Encores: Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm local time Monday, November… Continue Reading

Metropolitan Opera at the Movies, 2011-12 Season

Take advantage of “front row” seats at the Met’s new 2011-12 HD Live opera season, and watch opening day performances (or encore evening showings) at local movie theaters throughout the world. Although nothing beats a live performance at the Met in Lincoln Center, these simulcast live performances on screen are the next best thing, and… Continue Reading

SING ME A STORY: The Musical Approach to Children’s Literature

Jill and Michael Gallina share news of their exciting new musical that highlights the importance of literature and reading: If you are interested in a musical that takes place entirely on risers and integrates music and children’s literature into one easy-to-produce package, we hope you’ll consider our latest “Rise and Shine” musical SING ME A… Continue Reading

Olivier Messiaen – Dec. 10

“I give bird-songs to those who dwell in cities and have never heard them. . .and paint colors for those who see none.” —Messiaen. He used birdsongs and colors as no musician ever had before, bringing beauty and hope even to fellow prisoners in a German POW camp. Continue Reading

Domenico Scarlatti – Oct. 26

  Painting by Velasquez Born Oct. 26, 1685 in Naples, Italy Died July 23, 1757 in Madrid, Spain Domenico Scarlatti was born into an illustrious musical family, auspiciously in the same year as two other great Baroque composers,  J. S. Bach and Handel. He received early training from his father Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725), chapel organist… Continue Reading

Opera for Kids: Free Resources from the Met

 Educator Guides to the Operas Plan an opera study unit for your students based on one of the operas in the 2010-11 Metropolitan Opera season, climaxing with a Night at the Opera in a local movie theater or at your school. The Met Live in HD series offers free opera-specific educational guides you can use… Continue Reading

Catch the Met’s 2010-11 Operas in Movie Theaters

The fifth season of the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series is coming to a movie theater near you! Enjoy front row seats at these live opening night productions. It is so easy to feel more engaged with opera on a large screen, where you can see everything “up close and personal.”  Feel the pre-performance… Continue Reading

World Cup Music: Shostakovich’s Soccer Match

Don’t underestimate the power of either sports or music when it comes to exciting a crowd. Even as a tormented composer writing under the harsh restrictions and demands of Communism, in his 1929 ballet  The Golden Age big-time soccer fan and sometime soccer referee Shostakovich recreated a soccer match. In this ballet, a communist soccer team… Continue Reading

Hidden Musical Code in Plato’s Writings

A scholar in England just announced his discovery of a secret music code in the writings of Plato.  As a closeted follower of Pythagoras, whose heretical beliefs threatened traditional religion, Plato believed that music and mathematics were closely related, and that music was a reflection of the mathematical principles that governed the universe. Pythagoras codified… Continue Reading

Copyright Laws vs. Teens: The Battle Rages

When famed Broadway songwriter Jason Bert Brown discovered his songs were being “traded” freely online by those who had never purchased a legal copy, he thoughtfully requested that the traders stop the illegal trading. Read this fascinating exchange with a recalcitrant yet extremely bright and articulate teenager. Eleanor’s teenage sense of entitlement is absolutely breathtaking.… Continue Reading

Jazz Festivals 2010

Here are links & dates for jazz festivals around the world, so plan a trip around an  enticing jazz venue that beckons you to kick back and enjoy live jazz at its convivial best. Jazz Festivals in USA Jazz Festivals in Canada UK Jazz Festivals European Jazz Festivals Worldwide jazz festivals are also listed geographically,… Continue Reading

Vienna Vegetable Orchestra: Veggies Never Sounded So Good

Since 1998, the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra has performed on musical instruments they make from fresh vegetables. (I couldn’t make this up.) They shop for veggies at the local produce market, spend a few hours making their vegetable instruments, then after their concert, they throw them into the pot and serve up vegetable soup. Contrary to… Continue Reading

The Met Brings Opera into the Classroom

Bring full-scale Metropolitan Opera productions into your classroom! The free Live in HD school program from the Met is now available in some school districts around the country, and online educational guides put the icing on the cake.  Teaching guides for each Metropolitan opera production include classroom activities, musical highlights, story synopses, accompanying audio clips,… Continue Reading

The Fine Art of Listening: for Musicians & Audiences

Listening skills should be stock in trade for musicians, but experienced musicians face the same challenges of concentration and active listening that audiences do.  Timothy Walker’s keynote speech at Great Britain’s ISM (Incorporated Society of Musicians) hopefully didn’t fall on tin ears. Walker, Chief Executive of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, realistically addresses the difficulties musicians… Continue Reading

Arts & Language Requirement for High School Graduation at Risk in California: Fight Back!

These are hard times, especially in nearly bankrupt California. But are we content to see the California legislature gut the heart (i.e., the arts) out of education? The arts and foreign languages are fundamental to education, especially in the world we live in today. If creative thinking and global communications were ever needed in this… Continue Reading

Enjoy Operas from the Met: At the Movies or Online!

Can’t go to the opera? Does your busy schedule or a pinched pocketbook or an illness make you miss the magic of the live performance? While there is nothing like the excitement of being in the theater for the real event, there are now 2 wonderful and affordable alternatives: Option 1. Opera Night at the… Continue Reading

Boomwhackers on Steroids: Plastik Musik

If you thought boomwhackers were just for kids, think again. Better still, listen to the percussion group Plastik Musik in their astounding Boomwhacker performance: The first time I met Craig Ramsell, creator of the Boomwhackers, was  in Phoenix, Arizona, about 15 years ago at a music education conference.  At the time, I knew his newly… Continue Reading