Technology: Dynamic Music Solutions In and Out of the Classroom!

Mike Lawson • Technology • February 8, 2016

Share This:

TexasTEKSIn today’s world of expanding expectations and standards, achieving success with our students has to be more than just “practice makes perfect.” Perhaps because music is an elective subject, music teachers are in the vanguard of education. Consider this example of how creatively applied technology lifted a student with ease.

Marie’s school has begun implementing more technology in the classroom. In her band hall alone, there are computer stations in some of the practice rooms as well as each of her directors’ offices. Her band director, knowing Marie needed more help with her major scales, because she hadn’t watched the assigned videos and was struggling in class, let Marie work in a practice room with an iPad and the subscription music software program, MusicProfessor, for 10 minutes at the beginning of each class while the class was warming up. She spent five minutes practicing a particular scale, including fingerings and alternate fingerings at various tempos, and another five minutes studying how scales are constructed in the platform’s music theory course. Eventually, she passed of each of her scales, and was ready to move on with the rest of the class.

There are multiple variations of this scenario, when a student doesn’t understand a particular concept like embouchure double tonguing, gets stuck, and begins falling behind. An online music lesson library like MusicProfessor can also help students who enroll mid-semester or decide to change instruments.

At the other end of the spectrum is a student like Jane. She’s the best student in the beginning band, and given an etude book, a fingering chart, and a practice room, she’ll come out a prodigy. Jane has so much potential, but is being held back by the rest of her classmates. Her band director, trying to appeal to the majority of his students, has to maintain a manageable pace for everyone. So Jane gets bored and burned out. And whether she has access to private lessons or not, she spends the majority of band class lazily fingering through her method book. Recognizing that Jane yearns for a faster-paced environment, her band director sets up a tablet in his office and allows Jane to learn at her own pace where she’s given access to MusicProfessor’s massive library of online solos and etudes. She’s practicing all-state level etudes with the help of pre-recorded online lessons from a university professor. Her band director monitors her progress from time to time via online metrics and face-to-face assessment. Eventually, Jane has progressed well enough that her band director is confident that she’ll be first chair (of the high school ensemble) next fall.

Meet MusicProfessor

MusicProfessor is an invaluable music lesson supplemental experience. All music students can benefit from this online music education platform that delivers high-quality content taught by some of the world’s best music instructors. The expanded instruction for brass, woodwind, and percussion is taught via pre-recorded video lessons. Each instrument’s curriculum is carefully crafted to help students progress and meet national standards from entry level through high school with 5,000 integrated videos in 300 lessons. This curriculum is achieving success in over 100 schools and helping more than 14,000 students and teachers worldwide.

MusicProfessor is becoming a landmark method that lets students upload videos for critique, assessment, and mentoring with regular, interactive feedback. With MusicProfessor, teachers can see when students are logged in, what lessons they have viewed over a period of time and how much they are actually participating. An internal music practice record documents all activity and keeps the progress up-to-date so students don’t lag behind. This strengthens accountability and builds student’s learning ownership as MusicProfessor lets teachers know how well their students are learning, engaging and meeting core standards because performance is integrated into MusicProfessor’s web site.

One great feature of MusicProfessor is that it can encourage student critiques by allowing students to ask questions on specific lessons. It is also possible for students to evaluate other students through peer mentoring.

Many teachers use MusicProfessor in conjunction with Google Classroom for fle sharing and assessment. For instance, Google Forms are extremely easy to set up and share with students. Once enabled, students can type up their lesson critique and journal about their music experience, which is all measurable. When paired with Google Sheets, the information teachers gain from these interactions is extremely rich and helpful and can be kept in a spreadsheet for easy access and sorting.

The discussion tool on each lesson page of MusicProfessor’s website brings in a social component. Every time a student makes a comment, replies, or poses a question, everybody in that party is notified. This social engagement is an important attribute and promotes communal learning.

MusicProfessor Meets Standards

Another reason for MusicProfessor’s success is that it helps teachers manage the instructional process to meet core standards. MusicProfessor doesn’t just track students’ progress on an instrument, it also offers lessons in music history and music theory. Because the videos use master teachers and professional musicians as role models, the contents of the lessons go far past just teaching notes and rhythms. Musical nuances beyond just technical mastery are taught, such as trills in Baroque and Classical era and the differences of texture in different periods of music styles.

Music standards are a crucial part of today’s music education landscape, and MusicProfessor provides an easy and effective way to help teachers meet them. Take a look at how MusicProfessor addresses TexasTEKS Standards:

Texas TEKS Standards

For a description of the courses offered within MusicProfessor, go to

MusicProfessor Meets Flipped Learning

By now you have probably heard of the Flipped Learning teaching model, which emphasizes and enables higher student participation and ownership. Good music educators have more often than not already experienced impressive participatory percentages; and even more so with supportive technology.

Bloom originally laid the groundwork for these learning theories in the 1960s. Unfortunately without technology, implementing Bloom’s enhanced learning theory proved to be too time consuming for most classroom teachers. Fortunately, rapidly expanding technologies have brought Bloom’s theories to life in teaching and have significantly enhanced today’s classroom experience. Smartphones, tablets, and computers, all with Cloud interaction, make customized instruction possible, and national standards and customized meaningful projects are becoming standard fare in every student’s education.

For a quick review of the features of Flipped Learning, please look at the October 2015 technology column.

What makes MusicProfessor so effective is that how well it can be applied to any Flipped or Blended Learning model. Here are examples of easy applications in a learning environment of the first order:

       1. Establish spaces and time frames that permit students to interact and reflect on their learning as needed.

Each MusicProfessor lesson is about 3 to 4 minutes long and follows a strategic method of introducing a new topic, demon strating, and allowing time for call and response mimicking of that topic at a practice tempo. It is reinforced by combining with other familiar ideas in the form of various exercises and melodies.

Students can repeat entire lessons, or any portion of our lessons by using our custom built video looper tool, as often as needed. Additionally, at the end of nearly every lesson, our instructors introduce various problems students may encounter and how to troubleshoot those issues.

     2.  Continually observe and monitor students to make adjustments as appropriate.

MusicProfessor teacher subscribers receive daily and weekly reports on student participation, progress, and topical feedback.

      3. Provide students with different ways to learn content and demonstrate mastery.

MusicProfessor’s massive content library provides multiple approaches of the same topic, many times over, from many different perspectives. You can add newly introduced objectives in a chain of progressively difficult exercises and melodies all while utilizing a repetitive call and response / listen and mimic teaching style.

       4. Give students opportunities to engage meaningful activities without the teacher being central.

MusicProfessor was created to be used on an individual basis so content can guide someone foundering through flute mastery without any outside assistance; hours worth of fun exercises, melodies, and etudes for each instrument are provided.

    5.  Scafold these activities and make them accessible to all students through differentiation and feedback.

MusicProfessor’s content is self-paced and idiomatically focused; is not a ‘one size fits all’ method. All MusicProfessor students have access to a robust music theory curriculum.

As for feedback, MusicProfessor students can utilize the comment tool and pose questions and comments that go directly to the MusicProfessor admin team, instructors, and the Music- Professor community.

    6.  Prioritize concepts used in direct instruction for learners to access on their own.

MusicProfessor provides multiple curriculum guides that not only visually demonstrate where specific topics can be located within our library, but also pair content with some of the most popular method books used in music classes throughout the U.S. MP teachers can use these guides to create assignments without altering existing curriculum.

    7.   Create and/or curate relevant content typically viewed by my students.

Written guides allow teachers to custom craft their own curated playlists and syllabi.

    8.  Differentiate to make content available and relevant to all students.

MusicProfessor content begins on Day 1 with an instrument, assembly, and care, and extends to advanced etude lessons with a massive wealth of curriculum in between. A new video can be introduced a new video to a student every day from 6th grade through 12th grade. With this large pool of content, along with our curriculum guides, teachers, and students can easily find lessons that cover just about any topic.

  9.   Make myself available to all students for individual, small group, and class feedback in real time as need.

MusicProfessor is available on nearly any device that connects to the internet. Whether used in a classroom setting, in front of small groups, a practice room, at home, one-to-one devices, etc, MusicProfessor provides multiple methods for ‘flipping’ the classroom. The popular flipped models, Flex, Face-to-Face, and Rotation, are all currently being implemented by MusicProfessor Teacher subscribers.

For instance, teachers can assign new topics to be learned at home via Music- Professor and then review those topics in class the following day. Similarly, teachers can provide more focused attention to students by using MusicProfessor in front of a class, thus providing highly specialized instruction, and freeing teachers to troubleshoot with individuals or small groups.

     10. Conduct ongoing formative assessments during class time through observation and recording data to inform future instruction.

MusicProfessor provides thorough participation data to teacher members, allowing them to craft lesson plans and individual curriculum tracks.

The advanced comment tool encourages participation and engagement. The comment tool is available on every MusicProfessor lesson page and permits users to draft comments and questions, upload video performances, follow and respond to other MusicProfessor users, vote on relevant comments and responses, and receive notifications when their own posts have been responded to. The MusicProfessor admin team moderates 100% of the posts on the site.

   11. Collaborate and reflect with other educators and take responsibility to transform the practice

MusicProfessor sends out monthly updates to teacher subscribers. These threads have led to some phenomenal ideas shared with the entire user base. For example, utilizing Google Forms and Google Sheets for students to provide written feedback for MusicProfessor participation. This not only helped the teacher meet additional CORE standards, it provided an easier method for grading. This idea was quickly adopted by dozens of other MusicProfessor teacher members.

Mini-Lesson Plans

MusicProfessor’s lesson plans are presented in an attractive, concise video tutorial format that models specific performance standards to be taught, practiced, and mastered. The curriculum guide for each instrument offers a detailed breakdown of what is taught in each and every lesson in the entire curriculum core. In terms of performance standards to be learned within each lesson, peruse under the headings of the instrument and musical concepts to be performed. Also provided are essential supporting lesson plan guidelines dealing with the notes in both their note names and in music notation along with their key signatures and major scales and rhythms to be performed and in what time signature from the embedded music to be performed. The videos are ideally suited for students as their duration are approximately 3 to 4 minutes good for retention and well-conceived with an excellent delivery system that includes the ability to loop the videos for more concise playback practicing. Musical performing standards cover in an array of technical and music concepts. For example, the tuba curriculum includes basic care and keeping of the instrument with basic rotary and piston care, breathing, buzzing exercises, daily warm-up routines, tone production, phrasing, articulations, extending one’s range, and much, much more through advanced high school for auditioning for college honor bands.

Closing Comments

Yes, there is a paradigm shift in music education where music is truly for everyone thanks to music technology. Students from every corner of the globe can now access quality music instruction and the life-enriching experiences music brings. Music educators are at the forefront of modern education, attracting thousands of students to the creative wonders of music.

For over 30 years, Cremona has been a leading supplier of high-quality string instruments by consistently exceeding the expectations of parents, teachers, and students alike. Our expertly crafted instruments not only sound amazing, but are also easy to play—assuring that the learning process will be fun and rewarding.

So visit your local retailer today to discover Value like no other and experience Quality, Tone and Playability that sets Cremona string instrument apart from all the rest.


The Latest News and Gear in Your Inbox - Sign Up Today!