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Magic Pen and Fading Ink for Music Teachers

If you are a music teacher with a SMARTBoard, the Magic Pen tool and Fading Ink properties can turn an ordinary lesson into an engaging learning experience for your students. As a Certified SMARTNotebook trainer who is also a musician, I’ve found ways to make the SMARTNotebook features work optimally in a musical setting. Here are my discoveries: the Magic Pen and Fading Ink for Music Teachers.

Magic PenAdd the Magic Pen

There are two ways to customize and add the Magic Pen tool to the tool bar in SMARTNotebook:

  1. Right click on the toolbar and the Customize Toolbar will pop up
  2. Go to VIEW > Toolbar Options > customize

Magic Pen Fading Ink toolbar

While the Customize Toolbar window is open, drag and add the Magic Pen to the desired place on the toolbar.  “Done” closes the window.

Adjust the Magic Pen

Once the Magic Pen is on your toolbar, there are several ways to adjust the settings for your use:

Magic Ink properties tab


In the Properties Tab: Line Style > you can adjust the thickness and color of the ink.

In the Properties Tab: Fill Effects > you can adjust the transparency of the line and the fade-out time from 2 to 12 seconds.

Magic Pen fade properties settings

Use the Magic Pen to Spotlight

Spotlight exampleIf you draw a circle, it becomes a spotlight and everything else around the circle dims. This is great for drawing attention to a specific spot on the SMARTBoard. I use this feature often in my classroom as I’m teaching … just 5 seconds of a spotlight brings all of the attention and focus on one spot and I can regroup and move the class on together.   Often, students need our help in locating the very thing we are talking about and the spotlight does that and helps the lesson to flow more naturally. Students especially love to be the one to use the spotlight to locate things on the SMARTboard. Let the students touch the board!!

Use the Magic Pen to Enlarge

Draw a rectangle to enlarge the area. The enlarged area might be a tiny bit blurry, but the enlargement can be helpful in the music class when reading notes on the staff, intervals, rhythms, parts of an instrument, text, etc.

rectangle blow up example

Use the Magic Pen’s Fading Ink Feature

The fading ink feature of the Magic Pen is useful when teaching music: showing melodic direction, the magic stem activity, drawing to illustrate, etc. As shown above, the pen properties can easily be adjusted for classroom use. In a lesson, if I want to quickly add a bit of disappearing magic to the presentation, I’ll use the Magic Pen. The cool thing about the magic pen is how the ink fades away. I can completely markup the board knowing the ink is going to disappear in a few seconds. The kids get the point and then we can move on. I don’t have to stop and erase the ink on the board  to continue talking about what is on the board.  Fading ink is awesome!! However, there is a problem….

The Music Teacher’s Problem with the Magic Pen’s Fading Ink

Music teachers and Math teachers have a frustrating problem when using the Magic pen’s fading ink feature: Anytime a circle is made, a zero or a whole/half note, the spotlight activates and ruins the fading experience. Here is the solution:

Turn the Regular Pen into a Fading Ink Pen.

Regular pen enable ink to fade

Magic Pen and Fading Ink for Music Teachers

If you know that you want to use the fading ink feature, but you want to draw circles, instead of using the Magic pen, use the regular pen and adjust the fill effects instead. In the properties tab of the Regular Pen, enable ink to fade. Now, the music teacher can draw fading ink musical notes on the staff  without the frustration of the spotlight occurring every time there is a half note drawn.

Save Tool Properties

Fading ink save tool properties

If you want to have several options handy during your lesson delivery, I suggest giving one of the pen colors the fading ink property permanently. In this example, the green pen color is always going to be fading ink.  By changing the ink fade and saving the tool properties, the fading ink pen will always be ready to use without hesitation or losing lesson time. All of the other pen colors will continue to work normally.

Try these ideas using the Regular pen – fading ink features:

  • Rhythmic dictation: students will be completely engaged as they race to write the rhythmic pattern down before it fades away
  • Melodic dictation:  Write a melodic pattern and have students sing it once the ink has faded.
  • Play rhythm BINGO: Using a pre-made rhythm bingo game, have one students draw the pattern on the SMARTBoard and the class has to clap and find it
  • Using recorders, have students take turns drawing fading 3 note patterns as a warm up. Adjust the ink to fade out in 8-12 seconds for longer examples.

Magic Pen and Fading Ink for Music Teachers

Add some spunk to your SMARTBoard activities this week as you use the Magic Pen and the Fading Ink .

Let me know if you get stuck. I hope your week is Magical!!




Magic Pen and Fading Ink for Music TeachersFading ink for Music and math

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Cherie Herring

Music/Technology Integration at Hammond School
I teach elementary music, am passionate about integrating technology into my teaching, am obsessed with my SMARTBoard and iPad, and enjoy creating lessons and sharing ideas. I love technology almost as much as I love cheesecake, and with more energy and ideas than I know what to do with, I can't wait for the sun to come up each morning! I'm wife to Prince Charming and mom to three incredible girls who keep me balanced. . . sort of!

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