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music educators

  • Music Literacy Applications

    Mike Lawson | September 1, 2006

    A new frontier for music educators is interactive Web-based instruction and assessment. Why? Because there aren't enough hours in the day let alone class time to do all the great things music educators can accomplish. And now with music technology, it is possible to successfully augment your curriculum as well as cleverly assess all those pressing standards.

    Interactive Web-based instruction and assessment can bring you and your students together with 24/7 flexibility. Band, choral, and string performance techniques now have home instruction options because programs such as Makemusic's SmartMusic and Pyware's iPAS can improve the quality of home practice and provide accountability data.

    The most recent development is numeric data assessment on your Web site that is not easily obtained in the classroom setting where teachers are overloaded with so many responsibilities. I can't think of anything more precious to busy music educators than more efficient use of their time.

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  • More Free Stuff for the Looking

    Mike Lawson | August 1, 2006

    A journey of a thousand miles beings with a single step. And all of us music educators who have taken a single step into technology have seen wonders in spite of the obstacles. It can be difficult to start the journey, though, when you're in survival mode with limited resources. The previous article in this series may have helped you cut through the expensive technology hoopla and there's more good news. Read on.

    Shareware Vs. Freeware
    Shareware and manufacturer product demos have certain advantages over freeware because their products usually get upgraded faster and can be superior over to freeware applications because of significant product research and development. More personal technical support is another advantage. There are also more shareware applications available than freeware. The cost for shareware and manufacturer demos can usually be justified once success is imminent, especially when your students are "buzzing" about them. In the case of shareware, the cost is usually rather nominal with a $20 to $30 fee per workstation after you have fully tried it and are satisfied after 30 days of use with yourself or your students. Updates are sometimes free as well, making shareware even more attractive.

    The main difference between shareware and freeware is that shareware is not free software. If you continue to use it after the trial period, you must send the author your registration. This is described in the documentation that comes with the software and states the terms on which the software can be used, such as education or non-commercial use, for example.

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  • Shareware

    Mike Lawson | August 1, 2005

     

    A journey of a thousand miles beings with a single step. And all of us music educators who have taken a single step into technology have seen wonders in spite of the obstacles. It can be difficult to start the journey, though, when you're in survival mode with limited resources. The previous article in this series may have helped you cut through the expensive technology hoopla and there's more good news. Read on.

    Shareware Vs. Freeware
    Shareware and manufacturer product demos have certain advantages over freeware because their products usually get upgraded faster and can be superior over to freeware applications because of significant product research and development. More personal technical support is another advantage. There are also more shareware applications available than freeware. The cost for shareware and manufacturer demos can usually be justified once success is imminent, especially when your students are "buzzing" about them. In the case of shareware, the cost is usually rather nominal with a $20 to $30 fee per workstation after you have fully tried it and are satisfied after 30 days of use with yourself or your students. Updates are sometimes free as well, making shareware even more attractive.

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  • UPCLOSE: THE MAGNITUDE OF MENTORSHIP

    Mike Lawson | July 1, 2003

    It's the first day of school for the 22-year-old music director, and it's also his first day on the job. This small town has but one high school and he is the only music educator in the building - teaching band, orchestra and chorus. The empty music hall that awaits him seems large and unwelcoming as his solitary footsteps echo throughout the concrete room. The nearest high school is 15 miles away in the neighboring school district. Not surprisingly, the new director feels very alone - but not unprepared.

     

    His undergraduate courses have trained him well for the tasks at hand. His lesson plans are in order, his grade book organized with all the names of his new music students. The director has selected, researched and memorized every piece of music each ensemble will be playing this term. He's even survived the week-long marching band camp - although a few unexpected situations had arisen, and at the time he had looked around for someone to help him, to answer his questions...only to realize that the solutions must come from him alone.

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  • Strings Section

    Mike Lawson | January 1, 2002STRINGS SECTION: Clinicians Clinic Trends: On-Site Consulting? For many music educators — particularly at the high school and college levels — the learning isn’t limited to their own classrooms. During summer breaks and for brief stints throughout the year, these music educators take on the role of clinician, bringing innovative ideas and refresher courses to […] Read More...
  • Computer Music Lab 101

    Mike Lawson | August 1, 2000

    You can create and teach music with your computer! Music educators are in the best position to take advantage of computer music technology in their classrooms. Prices for both hardware and software are incredibly cheap, compared to prices only two years ago. And the instruction and creative capability you get is vastly superior. If you are new at this, consider establishing a computer music lab at your school with just one workstation. You can always expand later as you gain more experience and understanding of computer music technology. There are four or five different levels of computer music labs. We'll focus here on getting started with basic MIDI components and selecting MIDI software applications. More advanced computer music labs are really upgraded MIDI-based labs with capabilities in burning CD-ROMs, video production, Internet Web making, digital audio production and other applications. Traveling teachers might want to consider a mobile computer lab in which component parts of the lab travel with you to different buildings and plug into a master computer in each school you teach.

    MIDI can control sounds and effects, synchronize sequencers and recorders and has even been implemented in lighting control and video/graphics applications. Unlike audio, which actually "stores" the sound as a digital representation for the sound wave, MIDI stores only the name of the note that was hit, how hard it was struck, which effects or sounds were used and the number value of all your levels. This means three things: (1) MIDI music can be stored in incredibly small files, which are perfect for fitting on small disks or playing over the Internet. (2) MIDI is easily editable after the fact, with all tempos, notes and levels available for change in real-time. And (3) MIDI relies on the sounds in your synthesizer, the controls available to you in your keyboard and the software, so the equipment you use to create and enjoy MIDI music will greatly affect the way you hear the production.

    Sound Philosophical Roots
    Don't put the cart before the horse. Never purchase computer hardware first without considering the software applications that you will primarily use. The software will require different hardware configurations at different expenses. Don't be over or under sold when purchasing hardware. I will describe three levels of operation in this article in which hardware configurations certainly differ. So do your software homework first before purchasing hardware and you will be safe.

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  • Acquiring & Updating Used Computers

    Mike Lawson | March 1, 1999

    As an elective, music frequently gets the short straw in school budget allotments. Consequently, music educators have few opportunities to incorporate technology in their curriculum. But with a little networking, music educators can obtain used computers via donations and grants as well as updating computers. There are a lot of useable 386, 486 and first-generation Pentium computers available in the business world waiting to be recycled. As a middle and senior high school teacher, I have had many successes over the years in getting nearly 60 used computers donated. I will share with you here several recommendations of where to purchase used computers at bargain rates and music software that really works with these computers.

    Strategies for Used Computer Donations
    Begin by contacting local civic organizations about providing entertainment for their weekly or monthly business meetings. Your music groups are excellent sources for stimulating awareness of your organization. Businesses look favorably on donations that put their name before the public. After you do a short music concert for their luncheon, for example, you can present a proposal about technology needs that the school district is not able to support for creative instructional purposes. The Kiwanis Club, the Lions Club, the Elks Club, the Moose Club and the Rotary Club are local organizations that have responded very generously to my proposals. I have also gone to government agencies, such as HUD and to organizations such as Martin Marietta for generous donations. The result is that I have been able to put together two complete computer labs with over 50 recycled computers. Imagine getting over 50 computers donated to your school with only two phone calls and setting up computer labs for your students to actually use!

    Let's not forget about your school's PTA for a donation of used computer equipment or money to purchase technology equipment. Many teachers I've talked to have had great success working with the PTA. For one reason, the PTA as a national organization is a strong supporter of arts in education. Plus, members of the PTA are connected to the business community and can provide necessary links between school and business, such as a contact at their company to solicit hardware donations.

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