The Role of Technology in the Music Classroom
A good teacher will use all of the tools at her disposal to teach her students, but not all tools are created equal. Some tools become more of a crutch or actually hinder learning, while others create deeper engagement and improve the learning process.
Technology has often been left out of the music classroom for fear that it takes away from the human element or experience of music making. But there are many ways in which technology can actually ADD to this human experience and make the music classroom a more effective place of learning.
There’s no doubt, students these days are well acquainted with smartphones so using technology is a way of connecting with Gen Z. Additionally, there are many musical apps which make music education more effective.
If you think about it, even musical instruments such as the piano or flute are a form of technology. They are a tool used to make and enhance music outside of the human voice. Music has always taken advantage of the technology of the times, and today’s music educators should be innovators just like the people who came before them.
Another way technology has historically shaped music comes in the very spaces where the best music is performed. Architects and builders have taken the latest knowledge about acoustics to create performance halls.
In the 20th Century, music educators took advantage of technology as it developed to enhance teaching. Tape recorders were used when live musical accompaniment was impossible. Synthesizers were added to musical ensembles for a fresh new sound. Films were used to show great performances and teach music theory.
Traditionally, music education in the schools had more of a performance focus. Technology is allowing music teachers to improve such performance and expand self awareness by adding reflection to the performance circle. It also allows a shift to embrace music creation. Students are consuming and creating more music than ever. Embracing technology will attract more of these tech-savvy students into the music classroom.
Music teachers are excited about the possibilities tech is introducing into their curriculum. According to the National Association for Music Education, 74 percent of music teachers feel technology is helping to expand and improve the music curriculum. Similarly, 74 percent of music educators believe technology motivates their students to learn.
There are a number of high-quality apps that allow music teachers to bring technology into the classroom quite inexpensively including:
- Garage Band, which is a simplified recording studio with loops and sound effects and filters for Apple devices.
Soundtrap, which is a cloud based online music studio for songwriting and real time collaborations.
Symphony Pro, which allows you to write and edit music scores by hand and play it back.
Drum Set for Android and Windows, which gives you several different drum configurations to keep the beat alive.
WURRLYedu (I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention ourselves also), which provides a learning management system, lesson plans and assessment tools for teachers as well as thousands of songs (in any key and speed) with timed chords and lyrics, a high quality recording studio and even exclusive videos by Grammy Award winning artists.
Of course, technology is only as good as the teacher who uses it. The teacher who relies on tech to “wow” students but does not follow up with proper pedagogy will soon lose their students’ interest. The best use of technology is to enhance the curriculum rather than using it for its own sake.
In the end, when used properly, technology enhances rather than replaces a good teacher. Students may be able to learn the piano’s notes on a smartphone, but a good teacher is so much more than a keyboard instructor. She inspires students to want to learn, teaches them new skills and helps them practice and improve. She helps her student reflect on and interpret music. She coaches a student through his development and helps develop their self awareness.
Today’s students spend six and a half hours in front of a screen each day. We can choose to see that either as a threat or an opportunity.