music educator

  • Front and Center

    Mike Lawson | July 24, 2007

    Every music educator's dream would be a school that put music at the center of the curriculum and coordinated the rest of the coursework with the music department. Perhaps in Math class the concept of fractions would be taught in the form of time signatures, History would provide a context for learning about the great composers, Science class might include musical instrument acoustics, and Creative Writing would involve listening to music with writing assignments. Most important, the children would learn to sing, play instruments, and perform in musical ensembles. According to an article in the May 30th edition of The Boston Globe, this utopian musical education is similar to a fully functioning elementary school already in existence in Brighton, Massachusetts: the Conservatory Lab Charter School. The idea for this charter school was conceived by faculty and administrators from the New England Conservatory of Music who believed the concept fit well within the state of Massachusetts' innovative framework for charter schools.

    This program is getting top marks from parents and community leaders and there is a waiting list of over 600 students for a position in this ethnically diverse, mostly lower-income, inner city school. According to the director of the school, Jonathan Rappaport, "The organizing principle of the school's curriculum is learning through music. The goal is not to produce musicians, but rather to use music as a way of educating kids in a very comprehensive way."

    A recent example of an interdisciplinary assignment at the school called for the Social Studies teacher and Music teachers to have the students write and perform their own protest song while studying the civil rights movement. The Globe article states, "Their words poignantly combine youthful idealism with a sense of the world's struggles: 'Let good be your guidance/Stop doing violence/ We should all get along/ Try not to do wrong/ Don't discriminate, it only makes hate.'"

  • Shortcuts: Time Is A Barometer For Success, Part One of Four

    Mike Lawson | January 5, 2007

    Time is precious for a music educator. Within the academic school day, rehearsals, concerts, planning, research, teaching, tours, festivals, committees, and extra duties all have to be taken care of. But the right short-cut technology can make all the difference. This article, along with the next three, will present some (hopefully) helpful technological time savers for those feeling the crunch.

    When I first got into technology in the early 1980s, I quickly recognized its unlimited potential for instruction and lightening the burden of endless responsibilities that an orchestra or band director deals with on a daily basis. Here are some of my favorite music and business software applications that can make a difference.

    Music Scanning Applications
    Word processing and music notation software have made a big difference in how we manage our time. But scanners and their related software applications have introduced "warp" speed to the creative process. Scanning recognition for both word-oriented documents and music scores has improved over the years and can save you countless hours of inputting by hand with over 99+% accuracy. In 1992, my first scanner had a list price of $2,200. Today, scanners have significantly higher quality and retail for under $100. Music scanning software has improved with every upgrade for nearly 15 years and is now the fastest way to import a score from scratch into a notation software application for further editing, printing and audio playback. I suggest downloading demos from the manufacturer's Web sites listed below and trying them with a school scanner before making purchases.

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