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The practical guidebook to the

modern-day K-12 music
classroom and its students

Wesley W. Boynton

Where.Teaching Teachers Table of Contents Teaching Tech Contents Table of Contents 1 Introduction 2 Bleeps and Bloops in the Band Room: A Primer Where are we headed? 5 Part Two: What. Smart Boards. all rights reserved Cover photograph used under license from the Wikimedia Foundation 7 3 . Televisions Digital Production Software 8 Conclusion 10 Works Cited 11 Full Bibliography 14 Copyright 2014 Wesley Boynton. When. How? 7 Ear Training Software 7 Projectors.

The first goal is to introduce you to a brief history of modern computer technology in the music classroom. and talk about how you can use these to connect with your students and to re-invigorate parents with the learning process of their children. Boynton George Mason University B. this book can then provide some interesting thoughts on where that trajectory might be sending us a few or more years down the line. where. and by the end of this book I hope to help you to understand why. Class of 2015 2 . but how to engage with your students. as a musician. and explain how exactly we’ve moved so quickly from punch-card mainframes to one-man composition and production studios. With all the chatter about technology distancing us from one another. Hopefully. and even pockets of your students. especially if you yourself feel vastly unfamiliar with the resources available to you. and how it has worked its way into the homes. Music Technology.A. and how. Nearly every music classroom in the world could benefit from the introduction of some amount of technology. schools. friend. It is my hope that this manual will prove useful to you for years to come as an educator. If you think that Spotify might be a new brand of stain remover. From there. read on. Wesley W.Introduction Introduction This manual exists to help you. the K-12 music instructor. We will detail some of the many pieces of hardware and software available to you as an educator. and as a member of our increasingly technological society. we’ll move into a more practical portion which should assist you methodologically with applying new technology to your classroom. for any range of budgets and classroom types. This guide aims to teach you how to not only easily engage your students through technology. We’ll take a quick look at the development of accessible music technology. and how you can be prepared for that bright and shining future. Most Sincerely. it can seem incredibly daunting to start introducing even more techno-wizardry into your classroom. get in touch with your students by in turn getting in touch with the incredible world of technology. when.

9 As accessibility has increased.7 It was only a few short years before musicians began interfacing MIDI with the personal computer. and was introduced by Robert Moog of Moog Music Inc. As computers. the barrier to a student’s musical exploration with computers has quickly become the necessary skills. While enterprising young students can now begin burning the midnight oil readily. among others. synthesizer manufacturers and customers were becoming increasingly worn down by the inconsistent CV (control voltage) system of interfacing together different synthesizers.6 The MIDI standard was developed as a joint effort between major manufacturers including Oberheim. mostly for record-keeping.3 By 1986. are overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin with all of this new potential. leading instruments to be largely incompatible with one another.1 Headed into the mid 1960s. like you may be. however. even with the incredible potential of technology to keep students engaged 3 . but that was more-or-less the extent of things.5 Each manufacturer had their own interpretation of the system. the Elementary and Secondary Education Act under President Johnson began to put enough funding into schools to begin the use of mainframe computers. Some classrooms had televisions. In addition. 25% of high schools were using PCs in preparation for higher education. in 1982. especially laptops. many of those students. the resources required for an average student to begin using a computer to compose music with the benefit of a full virtual orchestra ready to tirelessly interpret it on-the-fly become fewer and fewer.4 A Primer Meanwhile. and the process of creating music became more accessible and personal than ever before.8 Sound banks and samplers – collections of recorded notes and chords and the hardware and software used to sequence them back into music – soon allowed musicians to compose.2 While university and some vocational schools had begun teaching computer maintenance. and Yamaha. Roland. ­­­­ Unfortunately. instruments might become obsolete as their proprietary methods of signal transmission became unused and unsupported. record and play without the help of a full band. have become all the more ubiquitous. in the music world. Korg. The number of options and average cost of the software and equipment required to synthesize and compose music in the home electronically has more than doubled and halved respectively in the last thirty years. it wasn’t until ten years later in 1975 that Apple donated a number of Apple 1 PCs to schools and many institutions began to abandon mainframes and minicomputers in favor of the PC over the next ten years. primarily the Apple II.Bleeps and Bloops in the Band Room: A Primer In 1950. the classroom was technologically sparse. rather than the requisite equipment.

suburbs and cities showed the highest adoption rate of technology-based music classes.11 the same 2012 study reveals symptoms of throwing money at the problem rather than addressing it thoughtfully. It is imperative that teachers learn to adapt and use the resources available to them. and claim A Primer schools is actually higher in schools with 81-100% of students on free or reduced lunch than in overwhelming numbers that the vast majority of their understanding of the resources available to them comes from self-study and self-sought external coursework and in-services. 4 .16 These findings combined paint a picture of money spent primarily on equipment before training. adoption in the American K-12 classroom has been dismally low.S. leaving teachers overwhelmed and struggling to utilize the available resources. with only 28% of suburban secondary schools and 17% of city secondary schools having even one course to take. teachers from those same districts report feeling unsure of how to use resources.and exploring inside and outside of the music classroom. and learn how to become educated advocates for district support.12 However.13 In addition.14 In-Service training. the challenges of a macintosh-based lab sometimes rendered district technical support useless. Financial support was shaky and varied. In a U.-nationwide sample taken in 2012. teachers surveyed continue on to note that district support is disappointing at best.10 In addition a misappropriation of funds has become evident in American schools. generally inconsistent in source and amount from year to year. we see the opposite of what one might expect. was rated at a 1. on a scale of three. While technological underdevelopment in schools has been acknowledged and repeatedly addressed since President Johnson and before.09 on average across all demographics surveyed.15 Teachers also reported that. In table 3 on page 79 of Professor Dammers’ study. while district hardware and software support was generally present and well-funded. the adoption rates of technology-based music classes in American secondary it is in schools with the lowest fraction of students on free or reduced lunch.

18 With new technology like the SmartMusic software. The ability to make musical exploration and improvement more accessible and more convenient is crucial to leveraging technology to bolster our students’ performance. the students’ phones would remain in plain sight. A simple Google search for “school band tape test” returns over 168.17 In my time consulting.Where are we headed? The places where computers and technology see the most use in the modern music classroom seem to be in texting behind the cello.” or recordings of their individual parts for evaluation. there is no reason why we as educators shouldn’t be capitalizing on the tiny computers in each student’s pocket.000. and their being a distraction could actually become more apparent when it occurs.19 Results can be sent directly to the course supervisor who can identify not only how well each student is doing. a metronome. Furthermore. Without the resources to give individual attention to each student. even without a luxurious resource budget. where the use of technology is actively discouraged by policy. by introducing the use of phone-based tuners. and perhaps some kind of music player for reference recordings. teachers like Gary English formerly of Chantilly High School inform me that these policies are in place because it becomes difficult to manage so many students at once without additional staff and resources. and the technological use returns to. the ubiquity of the personal computer is finally improving accessibility. In addition. 5 . at most.000 results. but also how best to address that student’s specific learning deficits and areas of weakness. In addition. with the first ten pages comprised overwhelmingly of PDF guides from different schools and school districts on how and how best to record and submit a tape test. the opportunity to play a test in private as many times as is necessary to play it well has shown to actually encourage good practice habits and self-evaluation under the guise of an opportunity for a ‘free’ good grade. the directors of some Fairfax County secondary schools could instantly ensure that every student has a tuner on their stand during rehearsal. many teachers have spent the past many years requiring students to send in “tape tests. a keyboard for tuning or accompaniment. Students who might otherwise use their cell phones as tuners and even as musical instruments are instead hushed and disciplined. With free websites and ninety-nine-cent apps at the ready. unlike previous decades. A Primer However. students can now have a computer evaluate their rhythm and pitch accuracy from home without a capable parent or other figure to give strong musical feedback.

and one of the fastest-growing ways of doing that is by use of the Wiki. Providing students an A Primer and eat it. not to replace it. and is the most central practice giving computers the bad rap of being distractions rather than productivity tools. teacher training remains a necessity. The same software that runs massive informational websites like Wikipedia can be downloaded and installed for free and run on a personal or school system for access by students to share videos and recordings of themselves. neglecting to assist students with time management and organization in precisely the same way. kinesthetic and aural activity with the potential for more trial-and-error and discovery than ever before. 6 .25 There is no reason to believe this trend will curb itself any time soon.rather than limiting tools only to students with middle-class or better financial means.23 We live in a society increasingly concerned with sharing. a student with a computer will often gravitate to games or familiar off-topic opportunity to post their efforts collaboratively appears to be one of the next big steps in the use of technology in the classroom.24 Over the last ten years. the use of technology has elevated the practice of composition and musical experimentation to an accessible. it becomes important to stress that while the trajectory of technology in music education seems to be ever-more disconnected from classroom instruction.22 In much the same way that a small child plays with food if not first shown and diligently shown again how to use a utensil resources if not guided. and to facilitate student involvement and discussion in an engaging and un-forced way.21 To correct this. and it is vital that anyone who plans to teach becomes familiar with the concepts involved.20 these new methods and tools are intended to supplement good classroom instruction. compositions. At this point. The all-too-common habit of leaving students alone with the computers while grading papers is the neo-technical equivalent of the “worksheet teacher” of the 1990’s.

sight-training. I hope to pose a few different use cases and provide practical and affordable solutions for engaging students successfully. When. all it takes is a television or some kind of display and a laptop to keep students occupied as a group. MusicTheory. Technology available freely or cheaply: Web Applications Web applications are among the most useful pieces of technology available. How? simple exercises like interval included (alongside websites like Teoria. In the same way that a sight singing classroom might sing together and then separately. called Aurelia. and even singing evaluation with a very high level of customization. Where. and their pitch. the option of moving class once a week into a general computer lab may not even be practical or probable. 1 Ear Training Software In many cases. Popular tools like MusicTheory. How? During this portion of the guide. Software like Sibelius’ offering. Where. as well as well as Ars Nova’s Practica Musica allow students the opportunity to follow entire lesson plans interactively and develop their ear.2 most companies will offer lab bundles or educational and institutional pricing. so that students can complete lessons while on the bus or out and about. come with their own free or low-cost mobile apps.Part Two: What. Many of the apps will make use of the phone microphone in order to evaluate What. In situations like this. Smart Boards. They are generally available free of charge. activities like 7 . or at home as a homework assignment.1 Many popular free sites and webapps. While copies can be expensive. and software like this can often be used one student at a time on a single classroom computer. allow ear-training. sometimes exceeding one-hundred and fifty dollars per machine. Televisions For a lower-funded classroom environment. in a regular nonmusical computer lab with and Reddit. and can be used over one system with a projector as a group classroom activity. their reading. dedicated ear training software proves more effective than other means. because they can be used in nearly any classroom’s popular music instructional community /r/musictheory). When.

The ability for visual learners to assign printed intervals to the sounds in the classroom immediately upon hearing them adds a much-needed visual component to the ear-training classroom. Using simple exercises like these can help to both mold a classroom where technology is used as a transparent method of instruction. a kind of musical note-input device.4 The onboard microphone in the computer can be used to record sound in. and individual singing included in high school coursework like AP Music Theory3 can be better evaluated and can be learned while covering a greater scope of the learning-styles spectrum when using audio-visual equipment. When. the music creating intensifying fear in what might otherwise be a happy helicopter ride over a pretty mountain landscape. or incredibly cheaply. sight-singing. the GarageBand software can be used for free. How? into classroom instruction. and allow students both a musically-inclined input method and an introduction to keyboard-based music theory. One such useful lesson may be to play the introduction of the movie The Shining both with and without Additionally. It creates an incredibly stark contrast. music appreciation classes and units can benefit immensely from demonstrations and analysis of effective film scoring. and help ease the introduction of computer use into the curriculum of a teacher with limited technological experience. such as the Casio CTK2300. The most basic licenses of Garageband begin at only four dollars and ninety-nine cents on the Apple iTunes store. Digital Production Software Perhaps seen by many as the most expensive of the technology available to incorporate accessible. or even with new audio superimposed from a nearby stereo. Indeed. Where. and the use of prerecorded loops can help immensely to simplify the process required to learn about concepts like mixing and arranging audio in a multitrack timeline.5 Keyboards like this can produce sound by themselves or be muted on-board in order to be used as a controller for instruments in the computer. Keyboards like this are relatively inexpensive and full-featured. While the computer keyboard itself can be converted into a MIDI keyboard. I highly recommend if at all possible exploring the option of finding a USB- What.interval recognition. if a Macintosh computer is available. if they do not have it already. 8 . digital production software is becoming rapidly more affordable and MIDI enabled keyboard. this one selling for only one-hundred and thirty dollars on SamAsh.

and students who become more interested in the software may not have a compatible machine at home on which to continue their exploration.10 Reaper takes design inspiration from other workstations like Logic and industrystandard Avid ProTools.8 This can be helped with the use of a ‘wrapper.7 In addition. a workstation used internationally in professional studios. keyboard and drum parts and suddenly have a full band. While the skills learned here are easily transferrable to any other ‘big-name’ DAW. Alternatively. and are not always stable or suitable for use inside a music classroom. When. a student who plays the guitar to write-in his own bass. Logic features an incredibly well-designed integration of audio recordings with MIDI and virtual instruments. the choices become more numerous. and can allow. Where. these are an advanced decision to make. and will be available to any of your students with a computer at home. under which many important Virtual Instruments are still released. the next logical step may be to move into Apple Logic. however. but for students and noncommercial use is only $60. is that it. still fully-featured.11 9 .’9 a piece of software intended to house one kind of software inside another What. Reaper is priced at $225. If you are evolving from a GarageBand-based setup and classroom. but based on much of the same software as GarageBand. It includes many of the same editing tools and niceties as ProTools and Logic. Logic is not compatible with the Steinberg VST (Virtual Studio Technology) standard developed by Steinberg. I will list a few of the options available across different platforms and price ranges.If funding for a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is available. but remains fairly simple to learn and comes with top-tier documentation and support. is only available on Macintosh computers. Logic opens GarageBand files and allows students to slowly learn the more advanced concepts available in a very streamlined way. so the recommendation is to stick to compatible software. However. I must emphasize that many professionals frustrated with other workstations have chosen to begin working professionally in Reaper with great success. How? incompatible piece and act as a bridge between the two. like GarageBand. available for both Mac and PC is the incredibly versatile and affordable Cockos Reaper.6 The downside to Apple Logic. for instance.

Conclusion I hope the contents of this guide have been helpful in bringing you an understanding of the vast technology available to your classroom and to your students. and to helping you understand it at the base-level enough to investigate and learn more. you open your students up to an incredible mentorship and a wealth of opportunities. rather than simply when they are sitting still inside of your classroom. By understanding these technologies well enough to teach them yourself. and you help give them ways to be inspired by and to connect with music throughout their day. Conclusion 10 .

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The manual suggests that key fac tors in student success in a technological classroom are the continuing par ticipation of the instruc tor and parents. The first por tion of this manual explores this histor y in a way relevant to understanding how the climate of music technology has arrived at its current state. as well as the freedom to explore new technologies fairly uninhibited. Since the introduc tion of the Elementar y and Secondar y Education Ac t in 1965. concrete methodology for the incorporation of technology in the modern American K-12 music classroom. computers have proven both an invaluable tool and an incredible distrac tion in the K-12 classroom.Teaching Teachers Teaching Tech: Technology in the K-12 Music Classroom By Wesley Boynton The purpose of this projec t is to produce a useful manual which ser ves the roles of both exploring contex t and providing useful. . and the second por tion determines a trajec tor y for the effec tive use of music technology in the classroom in order to provide useful insight in continuing to use technology to keep students and educators ac tive ly engaged in their classrooms.