Survey: Game Changing Technology

Mike Lawson • Technology • April 8, 2011

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As tools like e-mails and cell phones serve to facilitate communication and accessibility in ways that would have been unfathomable a generation or two ago, the music world is filled with comparable advances. Devices like digital tuners and hand-held recorders, access to videos and playlists on YouTube, and the unceasing innovation of amps, tuners, mixers, synthesizers, notation software, and more have changed the way people, learn, practice, and perform music. In many ways, technology has changed how music is taught, as well: 96 percent of the band and orchestra directors responding to this recent SBO survey indicate that that have implemented significant tech tools into their classroom over the past ten years.

How different are the tools in your classroom today from the tools in the classroom ten years ago?

“I still have Blackboards and chalk, but I also have tuners and computer software that allows me to write music and parts.”

Mark Best

New Haven Middle School

New Haven, Ind.

“SmartMusic has changed the role of technology in the classroom. Instead of playing along with sequences, they are practicing and being evaluated.”

Michael Holl

Chartiers Valley Intermediate School

Pittsburgh, Pa.

What is your music department’s annual budget for new technology?

Which areas of your program have been significantly affected by new technological tools, and how so?

“I constantly use my Smartboard in conjunction with my music writing software in rehearsals.”

Bob Lewis

Phillis Wheatley Middle School

Bridgeville, Del.

“The use of digital recording devices and laptop computers makes certain tasks easier, such as the above mentioned show design, and giving the kids a chance to hear themselves.”

Kurt Stalmann

Santana High School

Santee, Calif.

“Creating lists, communicating with parents and students, creating programs, cataloging instruments and music, video to accompany performances, writing and animating drill for guard percussion and marching band are a few areas impacted by today’s music software.”

John New

Mattacheese Middle School

West Yarmouth, Mass.

Does your music program or any of the ensembles you run have a website?

“The band website is updated weekly with assignments and reminders. I also include pages that help with recruiting, maintenance, advocacy, and reoccurring documents such as practice logs, band manual, and so on.”

Windy Fullagar

Alexander Graham Middle School

Charlotte, N.C.

What technological improvements relevant to music education would you most like to see in the future?

“I would like to see more information or basic classes available to those of us that were not brought up in this latest wave of technology. It can be a challenge to learn how to use/incorporate this new technology in our everyday teaching. It would also be useful to know what can be done on limited budgets – and I do mean limited and or non-existent budgets.”

Kent Crawford

Maquoketa High School

Maquoketa, Iowa

“Less expensive music reading pads would make music distribution to performance classes much simpler and less time consuming.”

David Bean

Morrison High School

Morrison, Ill.

“I wish that there were more training programs for jazz and rock drummers. I would love it if there were a way for a drummer to use an electronic drum set in an assessment application the way that a clarinet or sax can use SmartMusic. If Rockband can assess a drummer’s playing (and that is what it is doing to give a score), why isn’t there an educational variation?”

John Mueller

Incline Middle School

Incline Village, Nev.

“I would like to see a better integration of video, audio, and recording technology that allows everything to be more compatible. While we are getting closer, we are not there yet.”

Ken Goodman

Sycamore High School

Sycamore, Ill.

Additional thoughts on integrating new technology into school music programs?

“Technology in music has made a significant impact on my teaching, as I am now able to teach music technology on a full-time basis at an elementary school. The music tech program has allowed many more students to be able to participate in an instrumental music class (using keyboards). Most of these students would not be able to take instrumental music (band) because of the financial limitations. Students of all abilities can participate in the class and work at their own pace. The class is an introduction to instrumental music that helps prepare them for middle school music programs.”

Karen Garrett

Central Park Elementary

Birmingham, Ala.

“Technology has become a significant part of Music Ed – one that must be embraced, not ignored.”

Richard Lundquist

Chautauqua Lake Central School

Mayville, N.Y.

“As exciting it is for us, it is not so much for students. They are not taking advantage of ‘new stuff’ to get better. There are fewer players, and therefore fewer good players. Somehow we need to reinvent ourselves again, to bring interest back to band.”

Thomas Kessler

Bacon Academy

Colchester, Conn.

“Technology comes with both benefits and issues. Trying to find the right fit for our needs can be challenging. Technology should only be used as a tool in assisting the teacher with instructional delivery and the student in receiving instruction. It should never be the primary tool for instruction or learning.”

James Shaw

Joliet PSD 86

Joliet, Ill.

“Technology is still just a tool in a bigger picture. It can’t take the place of an effective and passionate teacher. You can buy the best cookware and ingredients in the world, but if you don’t know how to cook, the meal is still going to taste awful.”

George Dragoo

Stevens High School

Rapid City, S.D.

“As wonderful as all of our current technological resources are, the ability to keep up with adequate equipment is a huge challenge. Our computers are all out of date and soon will be obsolete in many ways as the older operating systems are no longer supported. We don’t have funds to keep the stuff we use now upgraded, let alone upgrade software and include newer programs or newer applications and hardware.”

Carole Grooms

Freedom Intermediate Middle School

Franklin, Tenn.

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