Monday, April 25, 2011
Technological Music Education: Computers Taking Over Instruments?
There is no doubt in how important technology has become in music education. Especially during a time when music education is under attack by state budget cuts, technology has helped tremendously in bringing music back to students outside of the classrooms. With these changing tides, music educators are teaching less in the way they were taught, and are instead taking the role of entrepreneurship in order to devise lesson plans and strategies that are modern and appealing to children of both today's and the future's generation. However, with that, certain technology has become more than just a complement to the pre-existing forms of music education. In some recent developments, the traditional, or "Classical" style of music is gradually becoming succumbed to popular genres and digital products, replacing acoustic instruments, music theory, and people altogether. Because of this, music educational technology has earned its criticism and has recently gained more opposition. Although these critics claim that technology is a potentially dangerous form of entertainment that can detract from real learning, music educational technology has its advantages as long as it is used as a way of embracing relevant, existing paradigms related to constructivist learning and a postmodern society.
Studies prove that the use of technology in music education aids students to think and learn better on their own without an instructor or textbook. This is not to say that technology replaces the teacher or classroom. But rather, instead of a teacher-centered lesson plan where the student copies the teacher, technology allows for students to reflect on their individual needs and freely create music on their own. An excellent tool that allows such education and creativity is the iPad. This mini computer fixed in a tablet form, makes learning portable, accessible, and enjoyable for students. With a touch of the fingertip, users have access to the Internet and encyclopedia of unending resources and lessons. Among the many apps provided for the iPad, Garageband is a very popular program that is free to download and suitable for the novice to expert musician. With this program, users can play with a variety of instrumental sounds, create, and record music. When students interact with music in this format, they can be fully engaged in the process. Webster described the use of technology in music education, "There is no better way to teach music as art than to routinely encourage our students to create music thoughtfully through performance, improvisation, composition, and active listening." Students can now create music as easy as playing in a sandbox and they can do it effectively at home on the computer.
Although the iPad is a great platform for music learning and creativity, it is by no means, a replacement for instruments as shown in the video, "iPad Orchestra", to the right. The ease of use of the iPad and other technology, has allowed computers to take over many "real" things including instruments and even people/musicians. There is no clear indication that these iPads are a major threat to Classical instruments just yet, but this growing trend of digitalizing real things has been a growing concern in not just music but all other industries.
Another piece of technology used in music education is the use of video recording. With video recording and the Internet, music lessons are more accessible and affordable than ever. Music educators and advocates post videos of tutorials and lessons on sites such as Youtube for free. Videos and other forms of technology is an attractive medium for students and much of the technology used in a music technology classroom can be purchased and utilized at home. Therefore learning via web can appeal to students more than learning in strict private lessons. In addition to posting videos on the web, many instructors utilize video recording to assess the progress of their students. From my own experience as a private instructor, I found this tool to be very effective in not only keeping track of students' progress for myself, but also in teaching the students because I can point out certain things while they listen and watch themselves perform. Since utilizing video recording, I saw drastic improvements in my students not only because they are teaching themselves as they listen and watch themselves play, but also because they enjoyed utilizing their video cameras and smartphones for better uses such as these
In conclusion, technology should be a complement that adjusts to the already existing elements in music education. It shouldn't replace or dictate how teachers instruct their students but rather aid teachers to effectively utilize the given resources on the web and elsewhere to the students.