Technology in Music and Music Teaching

  1. How do you use digital technologies for music making?:

I know that I don’t use nearly as much technology in my music making as other people, but I do use it in various ways, and mostly in my teaching more so than my personal music making. One of the main ways that I use technology with music teaching is in arranging music for my private students. When I arrange music for my private students I will use YouTube to listen to the songs several times over to start. Then I use Google to find any chord patterns that I have trouble figuring out on my own. I will then notate the arrangement, usually through the program MuseScore. Another way I will use technology in my music teaching is in preparing recordings for my students to practice along with. If I have a student playing something such as a symphony excerpt I will record myself playing the excerpt at various different tempos so that they can practice with them at different speeds that they are comfortable with. Something else I have done is create the recordings as a midi file. I arranged Bach’s “Minuet in G” for a saxophonist and flutist recently and I made midi files for them as recordings for their parts. I made midis of each individual part as well as one for the two parts together at different tempos to practice with. Mainly I use technology in the process of getting to the music making and mostly in a teaching situation, but I do not often use it in performance personally.

  1. How do you learn to use digital technologies?:

A lot of how I learn to use digital technologies is through experimentation and trial and error. I feel that I learn the most about how to use these programs when I am using them for teaching because I buckle down and do what I need to do to prepare materials for my students. In this fashion I also just experiment with the programs and figure them out as I go, and I do what I need to do to get it done, so it may not be the most conventional way of going about it, but I learn a way to use the programs that works for me. I also learned a great deal of how to use all of these programs through courses in college that focused on technology and music (Digital Lab and Mac Literacy for Musicians). These courses both taught me a great deal about how to use different technologies to aid in music making and music teaching. They introduced me to a lot of these things and I was able to build on that and learn so much more.

  1. In want ways do you see digital technologies being used in your internship?:

The most obvious use of digital technology I see in my internship is the Smart Board. My mentor teacher is very good at using the Smart Board for lessons, and there are some really amazing exercises the classes have engaged in with this technology. There was a program my mentor teacher actually just used last week or so called “Compose Yourself”. This is a program designed to get students creating and composing and it uses the Smart Board as a tool to do this in a fun and interactive way. It was really quite amazing and very fun, educational, and meaningful for the students. My mentor teacher uses technology in music teaching in other ways such as with PowerPoint to make backdrops for musicals, recordings to practice and sing along with in class, and other interactive activities run through the projector.

  1. What are Diana and DJRoomstar doing in these videos? Is it musical? Why or why not? How do you think these children learned to use these technologies? How might you help them with their musicking as a music educator?:

They are both layering different loops in different patterns to create combinations in various ways. I believe that this is musical. The different layers come together to form a unique musical experience. There are also important fundamentals of music that doing this requires and helps develop, such as keeping a steady beat and just generally listening. I imagine they probably learned how to use these technologies with the help of an adult who showed them how they worked. Then the children probably built on the basics of these programs and experimented with them to learn how to do more. These children already have a knack for making music, but there are definitely things I could teach them as a music teacher. One of the biggest ways I could help them would be exposing them to different music. I find a great deal of significance in that. Opening up students minds to what else is out there is so important. The students cannot know what they like or dislike if they have not head a variety of different things. I would also work with them on reading music, and I would love to build on this knowledge they already have and help them learn how to perform on these technologies in collaboration with other artists and musicians.

  1. What’s going on in these videos? Is it music; is it musical? Why or why not? How is the digital and other technology shaping the experience of these children? In what way might experiences like this have value, or not, in music education? Why or why not?:

It looks like these babies and toddlers are playing around with musical technologies. I think that this is musical. These children are experimenting with sound and their interactions with sounds and that is a musical experience for them. I think that the fact that they are experimenting through a digital experience is making it more accessible for these young students to be able to experiment in this way. It is much easier for these young children to make sounds happen through no more than pressing a button. I think that these technologies are providing avenues to musical experiences at earlier ages than they otherwise might start having these experiences. I think these experiences do have value in music education because they are exposing our students at an early age, and it is important for students to be able to experiment on their own and create.

  1. What musical problems does this app allow the children to explore? In other words, what musical things does this app allow the children to engage with? Melody? Rhythm? Form? Etc.? What can’t they do with this app? What kind of an experience might you create for children in which they would use this app?:

This app seems to be mainly focused on rhythm. There may be a capacity for melodic components too, but in this video it just looked like it is mainly focused on rhythm. They can put different sounds into loops that all layer on top of each other, and they can manipulate when it plays and such. They can learn a good deal from this such as how different rhythms come together to form composite rhythms. They can also figure out what different sounds they like putting together, like the kid in this video said, “let’s use…. a cowbell, just for effect.” I loved that remark, “a cowbell for effect”. I love hearing kids speaking like that and clearly thinking about what different effects different musical decisions make.

  1. In this video, the students are demonstrating the “Soundbeam” as part of an interdisciplinary project (for visual arts and writing). What types of musicking does the “Soundbeam” (the red microphone-looking sensor and sound console that you can’t see in the screen) allow for? If you were to get involved in a project like this, how might you use your music education skills to expand or change this experience?:

This definitely allows students to create music in non-traditional ways, which can be very meaningful in exposing students to musical experiences at young ages. All they have to do to produce a sound is run in front of the sensor or wave their hand in front of it. This is simple for a younger student to do, so it is making their music education more accessible. Additionally, they are learning the idea of playing with sound and playing with music, making it a much more organic experience. What I think would be really cool to do with this technology would be to choreograph movements as a sort of dance that would create a musical experience. I think this would be really interesting to see a choreographed dance that produces the music. I would still very much like to leave some improvisation in there because this would give the students time to explore and create, but the choreographed movements could give the students ideas to work off of as well.

  1. Find a video of an elementary or younger-aged child using digital technology to make music and post it. Explain what the children are doing. How did they learn how to use this technology? What is the music educational value, or not, of engaging with this digital technology?:

http://thegrio.com/2013/03/22/brooklyn-elementary-school-offers-digital-music-production-class/#comments

In this video these students are learning how to use technology to record and produce music. They are learning how to use this technology in an after school program in their elementary school. They have a teacher there who is showing them how to use all of the programs and materials, and he is having them learn kinesthetically as well. He is having them record songs to actually learn it through doing it. I think this serves a wonderful educational purpose. Learning about music producing and recording is very useful. If these children want to be musicians they will have to record themselves at some point, and knowing how to do so, even if it is just the basics, will come very much in handy for them. This also may spark an interest in these students in going into music business and production, and this would give them strong foundations for that.

  1. What are the good, the bad, and the problematic of using digital technologies in the music classroom with children?:

There are definitely “plusses” and “minuses”, if you will, in using technology programs in the music classroom. There are so many wonderful doors that various different technologies open up to students in music making. It can be a very positive resource for teaching and can help engage the students and keep music relevant and fun to the students. It can also be problematic depending on how it is used. I know some schools that require their students to do tests and practice sessions with Smart Music, and this can be a problem if not properly addressed if there are people who do not have this program or even a computer at all at home. If it is not specifically addressed the use of technology in some instances can exclude some students from the experience. It is also important to note that the teachers must be careful to specify that electronic based music making is a wonderful addition to live and acoustic music, but that is does not replace it. Neither one or the other is above the other, but rather they are both valuable in their own ways. This is something that I feel like we, as teachers, must be very careful to specify.

  1. To what extent do you value digital technologies for musicking in music education settings? How do you see yourself using digital technologies in your current or future practice?:

I find the use of digital technologies in a music education very useful and resourceful. I think it can really help in aiding the process of music making, and as I said earlier, I think it can help make music education more relatable for students in this very technology-based society. Also like I said earlier, I think it is very important for music teachers to think ahead about issues that can arise form the use of these technologies in music teaching and be proactive in addressing them as needed. I already spoke about how I use technology in my current teaching with my private students, and I think that is a pretty good indicator of how I will continue using these technologies with these students. My use of technology in a classroom setting will depend greatly on what kind of music classroom I am teaching in. I think that my use of technology would be different in a general music class than it would be in an orchestra class. I could see using many Smart Board programs with a general music class throughout their lessons for example. In an orchestra class I think my use of technology would reflect much more like what my use of technologies looks like in my private lessons. I would use different programs to help facilitate the process of learning the music. I could also see myself using more technology in creation-based activities in an orchestra class. They could use different programs and experiment how to create different things in the different programs.

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