5 Ways to Use Technology for Music Education
As technology continues to advance, both students and teachers alike are growing passionate about implementing more tech-focused curriculum in the classroom. Luckily for music educators, music is one of the subjects that has expanded due to the ever progressing technology industry. Whether it is a music theory app like Nota, or DAW platforms like Garageband, there are a vast amount of tools and software that can be utilized in the classroom. Below, we list 5 of the best ways to use technology for music education.
Music Notation Apps
Music notation apps are a great way for students to learn music theory. Beyond teaching and practicing traditional notation writing, many of these apps have additional tools to help students become a master of music theory. Many of these apps include a scale chart, a note locator and even a quiz section so students or teachers can monitor progress.
While there are a wide variety of music notation apps, one of the most popular is Nota (https://itunes.apple.com/US/app/id333179169?mt=8). Nota provides an expansive list of tools and, knowing that its users will be at various learning stages, also offers features for both beginners and music theory experts. One of the greatest aspects of Nota is its Reference Library which contains over 100 different reference tools that explain music theory essentials like key signatures, the relationship between notes, dynamics and even the Circle of Fifths.
Although initially used by only professional musicians, digital audio workshops (DAW) have grown so popular that they are often included in a computer’s basic software package. Within these workshops, users have the capability for recording, editing, mixing and mastering audio files, whether they be simple jingles made for fun or advanced professional recordings.
While there are a variety of DAW platforms, one of the most basic for students would certainly be Mac’s GarageBand (http://www.apple.com/mac/garageband). This DAW comes pre-installed on every Mac and is extremely intuitive. Users don’t even an instrument or keyboard as Garageband comes with a variety of pre-programmed instruments and provides a “Musical Typing” feature which allows students to play their computer keyboard like a piano.
Utilizing MIDI & Sequencers
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) files are generally used with a DAW platform – like Garageband – and provide students with the capability to explore an expansive list of electronic instruments, as well as other devices that can communicate with each other.
By using MIDI files alongside sequencers, both teachers and students have the ability to manipulate music. So whether it is altering tempo or changing instrumentation, MIDI files and sequencers provide a unique opportunity to learn various musical elements through direct experimentation.
Using a Music & Ear Trainer
Any musician will tell you that having a musical ear is an extremely important skill for any musician or instructor. And like any skill, progress is only made with consistent practice. In the old days, students that were looking to develop their musical ear would have to schedule individual or small-group classes with an instructor. While this method is still applicable, there is now a more convenient and efficient method for ear training: using an app.
With an ear training app like Better Ears (https://itunes.apple.com/US/app/id284444548?mt=8), students can work on their music skills as they develop aural aspects like identifying notes and intervals. Furthermore, this app features a ton of different exercises for both beginners and advanced musicians. Some of the more popular exercises include key signature recognition, chord music reading and pitch recognition.
What makes Better Ears so popular with teachers and students is its flexibility. Better Ears does not force users to stick to any particular schedule, which relieves students of pressure and allows them to work at their own pace.
Although not as new or attractive as those mentioned above, the Internet still remains one of the best and most expansive technology tools that music educators can leverage in the classroom. Whether it is uncovering new teaching methods or having students search Youtube for a particular song, the Internet provides myriad educational opportunities.
Creative teachers may even wish to use the power of the Internet to create interactive music projects that combine many of the technologies mentioned above. For example, it may be a fun idea to use a DAW software to create a classroom contest to see who can write the catchiest jingle, or maybe you would like to keep things less competitive and instead have the entire class work on creating a song from scratch. With the technology, all of these possibilities (and more!) could be executed, so don’t be afraid to get creative.
As mentioned, music educators are quite lucky in that technology has made teaching music easier and more creative, so don’t be scared to try and incorporate technology into the classroom when and where it feels appropriate.