Music Gaming and other Intro-Level Learning Tools

Mike Lawson • Archives • June 4, 2008

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We music educators would be well served to keep abreast of music developments in the popular gaming world. Beyond better understanding our students’ extracurricular preferences, we might see that music-based games can be useful educational tools. Popular music video games involving karaoke, guitars, rhythm and drumming, music sequencing, and dancing are all growing in popularity. Let’s look at several types of popular music video games and tools, and explore bridging them into the music classroom.

Mixcraft for the Classroom
In a time when much of the music we hear on a daily basis is produced in studios using all kinds of computer technology, it’s a shame that so little formal musical education has anything to do with computer-based music production. Sequencing is one particular venue in which students can create music without formal music prerequisites. The biggest obstacle for educators is the lack of lesson plans that allow instant implementation of somewhat sophisticated software applications into the classroom. Now there are curriculum guides for three awesome sequencing programs that music educators might consider. These guides offer superb lesson plans for a semester or an entire school year.

Looking for sequencing-oriented courseware? Mixcraft for the Classroom by Zig Wajler and Steve Riddle, distributed by Acoustica, integrates the software with student-driven activities for one or two semesters of instruction at middle or high school levels. It contains step-by-step, field-tested lessons integrating the sequencing application Mixcraft into the classroom by fusing music, technology, and interdisciplinary subjects. This serves to expand student thinking, learning, creativity, and communication. For those not familiar with Mixcraft, it is basically the GarageBand for the PC: very user-friendly to the point that is easier to use than most sequencers with built-in loops and very affordable at $49.95.

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