Many of the methods and technologies discussed in the course are already implemented in our curriculum at Sheridan College. My primary motivation for taking this MOOC was to see if tech-centered/pluralistic approaches are being implemented in early music training (or if they're at least being championed). I do worry about upcoming generations of music majors. Even those who come through the traditional way…band, orchestra, choir, etc. …seem to be less and less notationally literate and more and more indifferent to art music that students of, say, 15 years ago when I was a teaching assistant in grad school.
I started the music technology program here for the very reason of reaching out to students who otherwise wouldn't consider getting a music credential. These are students who love to listen to and create music in settings a bit different from those of a traditional "classical" ensemble. And we've been very successful in servicing this "outsider" student audience. An unforeseen benefit has been the interaction between so-called traditional music majors and the music tech majors. There's great cross-fertilization of ideas, and sometimes, through peer interaction, students from one side of the path cross over to the other and experience the best of both worlds.
While I do advocate for this approach in music education at any level, I don't believe that implementing technology alone is going to suddenly bolster enrollment in music classes and programs to the point where our classrooms are overflowing. I felt like this course was optimistically suggesting that tech is going to be this pied piper that prevents the exit of students from music classes as they move beyond the elementary level.
One argument against this is that our art, the art of music making, requires not only great enthusiasm from the student, but dedication, concentration, and regular practice. This is applicable in everything from composition to applied performance to musicology to recording engineering. Technology makes it very easy for students to start making music with very little effort or prior training. And that's great! But a monkey can stack a bunch of loops and create something that, at least on the surface, sounds polished. Once the novelty of the tools wears off, then we're back to basics: techniques of composition; music theory; historical and cultural context; critical listening; and practice, practice, practice.
That's where we see retention slide. At least that's what I've seen. "What do you mean I'm not going to be able to just screw around with Garageband all semester? You mean I gotta produce something?!"
There's a line where music becomes hard work for a student. Some of us gleefully hopped over that line and busted our humps to get where we're at today. And for us, the reward has been so worth the effort. For others,however, they might just be satisfied with simply being connoisseurs of music that is created for them. I like to call it the Guitar Hero syndrome. It's one thing to mash buttons in time on a plastic controller. But it's quite another thing to play bar chords, bend strings, improvise, build up callouses, etc. with the real thing. Some stick with it, and some move onto the next screen-based distraction. For the latter, we can hope that an appreciation is developed for what it takes to become an instrumentalist (or singer or producer or composer, and so on).
So, definitely…let's give more time to contemporary popular music. Let's employ apps and websites that allow students to explore the elements of music, improvisation, and composition. Let's share our love of music and our enthusiasm and try to foster the same in our students. But let us also keep realistic expectations of what the tools of technology can and cannot do for us as we accompany them on their journey of discovery.
This was a great course. It challenged me with new ideas. The interviews, for the most part, were thoughtful and engaging. And the optimism of the course was contagious. It inspires me to advocate for many of the approaches it put forth. So I guess my action plan is to share my experiences with using tech at the college level with those on the front lines that are our elementary and secondary music classrooms. I've been meaning to propose a workshop for our all-state music convention that takes place in January. I know they're always short on tech-centered presentations. I would think a lot of people would be interested in knowing more about some of the ideas we've been discussing. Dr. Humberstone has definitely inspired me to quit procrastinating!
Thanks for reading, and best of luck in your future endeavors with your students.
First a provocation…now a manifesto. I didn't realize how radical this MOOC was going to be!
Well, this week I'm going to heed the instructions and keep this succinct. In fact, I'll paste the questions below and address each in turn.
You were introduced to the DAW (or sequencer), the step sequencer, and a range of notation software. Do you feel you would like to explore any of these technologies further?
These are pretty important cornerstones of my music technology classes. So, obviously I'll continue using the ones we currently employ in our curriculum, and will be exploring new programs as they are developed. I'm particularly looking forward to trying out the newest competitor in the notation market…Dorico…later this year.
Have you been persuaded that the DJ-producer does have an awful lot of sophisticated musical skills?
Absolutely not. As much as Dr. Humberstone seems to want us to believe that DJs are high-functioning musicians that have a wide breadth of knowledge in a variety of musical disciplines, the simple fact is that the software takes care of nearly all of those skills in a highly automated way. So much so that one barely needs to be aware of them.
Now, I'm not saying that there aren't some very competent musicians who use DJ-related software and gear. I'm just saying that to do what was shown in the example video does not require a knowledge of all of those skills listed in this week's rather wishfully-thinking quiz. But don't take my word for it. Here is a very persuasive argument…and another…(actually from DJs) about how mind-bogglingly easy the software makes it to produce dance music routines:
Do you agree with David Price that learning has gone "OPEN"?
Sure. It's pretty much been like that since mainstream embrace of the Internet. Price, in way, is probably preaching to the choir (music teachers) about this rather obvious fact. BUT, I don't think it means that a teacher that occupies the same space as the student and gives formalized lessons or lectures is obsolete by any means. A student might view a YouTube tutorial, but the uploader of that tutorial doesn't monitor the student's progress, provide suggestions beyond the video, or assess student learning. These are things that, when we try to teach ourselves, we must then do for ourselves. And that can be challenging. There's a lot to be said for the motivation of preparing an assignment for a mentor on a weekly basis.
What were the best examples of OPEN learning that you found either in the course content, in your own searching, or the work of your peers?
I really like Justin Sandercoe's guitar site. I've never studied guitar formally, but I love to zip around his amazing archive of lessons. I always learn something new with each viewing. And I recently subscribed to macProVideo. It's more technically-oriented with many music production courses, but there're also short courses on music fundamentals and theory (as well as extra-musical topics).
What does Project Based Learning (or the other BLs) have to offer Music Education? And what does Music Education have to offer Project Based Learning in the 21st Century?
In music classes and lessons, it's all pretty much PBL. Even in my theory classes I require an end-of-semester creative composition. I agree with Dr. Humberstone that we, as music educators, have a lot to offer other disciplines in hands-on project-based learning. And I loved how the final lecture video ended. The music…the floating titles…and the call to arms for music education to be the model on which all BLs should be modeled!
This week's assignment for “The Place of Music in 21st Century Education” is to write a "provocation" on media-rich content for the music classroom. Goodness, isn't there enough provoking on the Internet right now? Well, I'll do it, but I'm certainly not aiming to push anybody's buttons here.
Disclaimer: I teach college courses in music technology, so I'm a staunch advocate of implementing tech for, not only music production students, but for all music majors, regardless of speciality. Our program aims to maximize their "bag of tricks" so that they have the opportunity to enhance their teaching methods, and to expand opportunities for their personal expression and potential for income. We expose them to technology both as a create means of expression and as a utilitarian component to their toolset as future music professionals.
Now, as far as the effectiveness of technology in the elementary and secondary music classroom, I can't comment from personal experience. I think recorders (the ones you blow through) is as high-tech as it got when I was a kid (although I did first begin composing pieces using a handheld game with a crude 32-step sequencer called Merlin).
I'm very curious about recent trends in these classrooms, of course, and that's my primary motivation for taking this class. I'd assume that it would be chockfull of the same awesomeness that occurs in my college classroom, but I'll rely on the firsthand testimonies of the research and that of my peers in the course.
I thought that most of the material presented this week was pretty supportive of using tech tools to engage students and reach out to those who might be less interested in the traditional path to music study. I was, however, pretty stunned and concerned about the recommendation by several health organizations that there should be no screen time for children under 3 years old. I don't have (human) children myself. But I see relatives and friends plopping their kids down in front of electronic "babysitters" all the time. I'm definately relaying the Christakis mouse studies to them at the next holiday gathering ("How dare you tell me how to raise my kid(s)!!").
For more about tech in the primary and secondary music classroom, I uncovered some information in the form of Internet's perfect summation format, optimized for the limited attention span in us all: the infographic. What? It's a great way to concisely present information from a number of otherwise wordy resources. Look, Dr. Humberstone specifically said this wasn't to be a piece of academic writing. I make no apologies.
So the National Association for Music Education (NAME) posted and further summarized an infographic that apparently was commissioned or designed by californiastudios.com, which is a rehearsal/teaching space in…er…Chicago(?) that has some pretty atrocious Yelp reviews. Nonetheless, the data in the graphic, based on a PBS survey, is rather interesting.
In summary, a large number of teachers in surveys feel that technology supports and expands the curriculum, and that it motivates students to learn. The most commonly-used device is the interactive whiteboard (a really lame piece of overpriced technology in my personal opinion…students are just as happy to take a picture of my whiteboard notes with their phones). Other tools include tablets and e-readers. Notable is the use of web-based games, something mentioned in this week's videos.
Other benefits include easy access to connect with other teachers and musicians (also addressed in the Afghanistan school in this week's videos), access to new resources and concepts, and a means to creativity, specifically composition, rehearsal, recording, editing, and so on.
If the surveys on which this infographic are to believed, then it seems like a good percentage of classroom music teachers embrace technology. I'm certainly convinced in my own experiences that it's beneficial, and I'm happy to hear that tech is being implemented in the music education of younger students.
As far as being in too big of a rush to embrace new tech, I don't think early adoption is a bad thing. Unless it's a case of the tech being forced on teachers by I.T. or administrators, I would think that music teachers, being creative people, would enjoy trying new things to increase student engagement and interest. If it works…great. If not, it won't catch on. It's testing in the field that determines what is going to make it into the mainstream of tech. The crests and troughs presented in the chart on early adoption in this week's videos makes for an interesting snapshot of trends, but I don't think it's alarming in any way.
I thought this module was a bit behind the times with suggesting that the inclusion of popular music in contemporary music study is somehow novel or revolutionary. Now, it might be that Australia has more conservative or traditional pedagogy methods. Or, it might be a bigger issue in elementary and secondary levels. But a lot of these music topics are rather commonplace in U.S. colleges and universities.
Undergraduate jazz studies programs, speciality colleges such as Berklee, certification courses such as the one presented in the Liveschool video, history of rock/rap/country courses, music production courses, appreciation courses that devote equal time to popular and art musics…all of these things have been around for years
It seemed like the message is, that students are bored by art music, and therefore quit studying music, and if we teach them music via repertoire of the Billboard Hot 100, we'll have overflowing numbers of students studying music through high school.
Just because a student enjoys something in a passive, consumerist mode, doesn't mean that he or she wants to actively create it as well. And can we possibly anticipate the personal preferences of every single student? For example, in the in the Xavier video, we have a DJ who was actually bored by the inclusion of pop music (i.e. The Doors) in his high school education!
Fortunately, the module ended on a strong note with the delightful Richard Gill postulating what I think is probably the best approach: music study needs to be a mix of approaches (singing/instrumental), techniques (performance/composition/improv), styles (art/folk/pop), and, I might add, cultures and traditions (Western and non-Western). This is most likely the best way to reach and engage a wide audience of learners.
I watched/read two suggested sources. The first was Daphne Koller's 2012 TED talk on what the Coursera founders have learned about online educations from their offerings. I was a bit distracted when she described all the cool things that Coursera had in place in the beginning that no longer are part of their platform. Getting a (free) certificate and mid-lecutre quizzes were two that I really miss.
But anyway, one interesting and very beneficial thing about delivering content to a global classroom that hadn't occurred to me was the sheer amount of data that can be mined from the thousands of assessments and how one can use that information to tweak learning strategies, pinpoint pitfalls, and provide more personalized feedback for students.
Dr. Koller was really proud of the peer-grading system that has, unfortunately, become a standard with Coursera offerings. I, as a student, have never found this particularly useful for learning as very often the students have little or no guidance in assessment, resulting in feedback that is based more on uninformed opinion rather than understanding of an assignment's intended outcomes. She offered no firm data, but only anecdotally said that thousands of students are grading each other "quite successfully, I have to say." I would have appreciated an example or two of this.
The second source is close to the discipline I teach. It was the opening chapter to Andrew Brown's book Music Technology and Education: Amplifying Musicality. In this chapter, he examined briefly how technology in the music classroom can be viewed as any one of three metaphors…it can be a tool, a medium, or a musical instrument.
As a tool…an aid to "get something done," he cited the piano as a compositional device that helps one test out ideas. He then likened this function to today's notation and DAW programs, describing them as a sort of virtual sketchpad for working out musical gestures and other ideas.
Technology as a medium can be seen in the modeling of acoustic instruments by synths and samplers, and in the easy manipulation of symbols (music notation) with computer engraving programs.
Finally, the concept of tech as a musical instrument was discussed with the author concluding that, if the technology is approached in the same way as one approaches study of a traditional instrument…with methodical practice and the reward such practice brings…, then a greater potential for a meaningful learning and music-making experience can be had.
Unfortunately, I'm not challenged by any of Brown's introductory remarks. I wholeheartedly agree with them, so this reading didn't get my critical thinking process going for this assignment. But I'm very interested in further exploring his book.
I feel a bit constricted by this assignment because there has been so little time allotted to exploring the research, so I don't feel like I can really address some of the issues presented in a truly objective way yet. I found the comparison of the NBCS music classroom and the Orff classroom at Kamaroi fascinating. But without more detail on the pedagogy used in the former (do they just "jam?" They used that word a lot!), it's difficult to draw meaningful conclusions at this point.
However, in pondering "how much technology and the cultures around digital technology should influence education, and music education, in the 21st Century," I really think that it depends on the the outcomes of the course or program. In a recording arts class, one cannot be without it. In an aural theory class, although there are fine technology tools, a lower-tech approach might be just as valuable to certain students than a high-tech one.