• Sound Equipment For Studios and Concerts

    Mike Lawson | January 26, 2015

    Sound Equipment for Studios and ConcertsThis exciting lesson plan in understanding and using sound equipment for your concerts and studio projects is excerpted from Music Tech 101 - A Group Study Course in Modern Music Production using Audio Technology, by Brian Laakso, a new curriculum for teaching music technology programs in high school, available January 2015 from Alfred Publishing, published in cooperation with TI:ME - The Technology Institute for Music Educators.

  • Technology: DAW Workstations

    Mike Lawson | December 9, 2014

    Customizing Beyond the Bundles

    While the idea of buying a new digital audio workstation (DAW) bundle may be appealing, for many educators it might be more feasible to incorporate existing pieces of hardware and software into a customized solution. Fortunately, there are many different ways to accomplish this, as well as numerous resources available to help educators choose how to customize these workstations for their specific needs.

  • Technology: Percussion Practice Software

    Mike Lawson | November 23, 2014

    ​​Did you know that there are over one million apps each on Apple’s App Store and Google’s Google Play store? And it’s not just that there’s a boat-load of apps to chose from, it’s that there seems to always be something being released that does the “it” better (or differently) than the others. Take drumming, for example. There are many apps that you can use to learn how to play rudiments, drum set, world percussion, and even mallet keyboards. Their goals may be similar, but different app developers harness unique features of the device and provide creative interaction that can make it seem engaging and useful for specific needs and learning styles. This month we’ll look at some apps that are geared toward learning rudimental and drum set performance.

  • Technology: DAW Bundles

    Mike Lawson | October 18, 2014

    Hardware & software kits for school music educators

    The term “Digital Audio Workstation” (DAW) refers to an electronic setup for recording, editing, and producing audio files. You might think of it as a complete recording studio connected to a computer or tablet. These workstations often bundle hardware with software that may have a published curriculum including lesson plans designed to work right out of the box. Here’s what a basic DAW might include:

    • DAW Software (Magix Music Maker, Studio One, Pro Tools, Logic, and so on)
    • Notation Software (such as Notion, Sibelius, Finale, or Encore)
    • Audio Interface (AudioBox USB, M-Box, MicU Solo, Scarlett) Read More...
    • Technology: Rehearsal Software II

      Mike Lawson | September 17, 2014

      Practice software roundup #2: The Jazz Edition


      In my last article, we looked at three software packages used for performance training. These practice aids have advanced assessment options that “listen” to the performer and evaluate for correct pitch and rhythm. While each has its strengths and weaknesses, they all could find a place in the student’s toolkit of practice aids.

      SmartMusic, the most full-featured of the three, provides an ever-growing library of titles of both solo and ensemble music as well as a cloud-based grade book solution for the teacher. The cost, while not outrageous, is a subscription model that the student would need to pay every year in order to gain access to the SmartMusic library.

    • Technology: Ear Training

      Mike Lawson | August 14, 2014

      Six ear training programs for classroom and at-home use

      "Garbage in, garbage out” is a guiding mantra for building computers and apps. It’s also true for our students’ brains. We are in the business of empowering young minds with healthy, useful information. Thanks to significant new developments, music educators can effectively combine music theory and aural training to empower students with ownership of their music creating experiences.

      Ear training can cover a broad spectrum of useful music tools. These include pitch recognition, intonation, rhythmic drills, harmonic understanding of how music fits together vertically, better understanding of triads, complex chords, intervals, scale recognition, and how chord progressions are linked together.

    • Technology: Rehearsal Software

      Mike Lawson | July 21, 2014

      Practice Software Roundup #1


      "Practice makes perfect!" That’s what my fourth-grade band director said as I struggled to play a BH major scale on my trombone. Practicing was boring – and quite frankly, the only thing I wanted to do was play the glissando at the end of the song. Now that was fun! But practice I did. In between weekly lessons, I diligently went through the scales, exercises, and songs from the Rubank Method book each day, never really sure if I was doing anything correctly because I was too wrapped up in the process of playing; holding the horn, moving the slide, breathing, embouchure, and so on. This was way too much for a fourth grader to be thinking about, let alone evaluating what was coming out at the end of the bell.

      Wouldn’t it have been great if there were somebody or something that could listen to me practice and at least tell me if what I was playing was correct? Well, today, with the ever-increasing power of computers, the patient “listener” can sit beside your students and let them know if they’ve played correctly – to a point. Let’s look at three software applications that purport to do just that.

    • Technology: Drill Prep Apps

      Mike Lawson | June 18, 2014

      The secrets to OSU’s paperless marching band rehearsals, increased efficiency, and much more

      Have you ever dreamt of a paperless marching band rehearsal, perhaps during a windy day that had printouts flying across the field? Or thought about a way to decrease the time and expense of printing and coordinating sheets for every step and set of a drill design for each student? Fortunately, technology can now make these dreams a reality. New apps for iPads and Androids make paperless instruction easy, so you can funnel all of your creative energy directly into the marching band show.

      The marching band at The Ohio State University took the world by storm when their extraordinary marching routines of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk and T-Rex walking across the field were featured on national TV news spotlights. Their innovative introduction of iPads on the rehearsal field paid off. The band’s Oct. 26 performance of “Hollywood Blockbusters,” including Jurassic Park, has received more than 15 million views on YouTube:


    • Technology: Hearing Loss

      Mike Lawson | May 19, 2014

      Protect Your Ears Without Losing the Sound


      About a year ago, my family had had it with me always asking them to repeat themselves whenever we were talking together. While I thought it funny to learn how to say “What?” in multiple languages, I brushed off their complaints until a recent visit with my doctor; without prompting, she asked if I had trouble hearing her questions. That’s when I decided to act.

      Now, I’m a drummer by training and grew up playing in marching band and drum and bugle corps, not to mention regular jamming in garage bands with my friends and going out to clubs and concerts. Then followed years of teaching drum corps where we would rehearse in indoor spaces such as high school gyms or auditoriums, especially in the winter months.

    • Report: Online Lesson Opportunities

      Mike Lawson | April 21, 2014

      From video curricula to videoconferencing, technology expands the options for private instruction  


      Having a hard time finding good private lesson teachers in your area? While that used to be a major obstacle for school band and orchestra directors, particularly those in more remote locations, innovation in what is now commonplace technology has dramatically shifted the private lesson landscape. Remote lessons and interactive learning through videoconferencing, video instruction, and related online offerings have created an incredible opportunity for sharing information, no matter where students and teachers may be located.

    • Technology: Music Ed Apps

      Mike Lawson | April 17, 2014

      The Best Music Apps for Educators 

      These are exciting times for music educators. Desktop computers and laptop notebooks have slowly changed our modes of creating, teaching, and assessing music. But tablets and smartphones have ramped up the music experience faster and farther than we could have imagined. The iPad and table computers are destined to change the way we teach and interact with students and technology. Today’s touchscreen sensitivity, which eliminates the need for a mouse, has also changed the way we work. This is important because it is gives us a more tactile surface which directly influences how we interface with data and music.

    • Technology: YouTube

      Mike Lawson | March 17, 2014

      Using YouTube in the Music Classroom

      YouTube is among the most popular and ubiquitous sites on the Internet. According to the site’s own statistics, more than one billion unique visitors use YouTube each month, and it reaches more adults than any single cable network. Almost half of the traffic on YouTube can be accounted for through mobile devices such as phones and tablets. It is a powerful tool for storing video, communicating, marketing and promoting music, and tracking social trends in media. YouTube use in the classroom has recently been shown to positively influence several types of educational engagement.

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