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Friday, March 27, 2015

               I found the first section of this week’s reading very confusing. While I find myself fairly proficient with using technology, I have a difficult time understanding how it works. The biggest question I have is; what is the difference between MIDI and Digital Audio? In my mind, I see them as devices used to compose, record, and playback music. I don’t understand what makes one different from the other. Is it the method of input? Is it the type of program used? Are they drastically different from one another?
                In contrast, the portion of the reading that focused on composition was very enlightening. Bauer did a nice job at explaining the pedagogy to composition as well as to composition using technology. The twelve interactions between student-composer and the teacher lay out the ideal qualities we would like to instill within our students. Bauer has listed these strategies (pp. 61-62), and each of them helps to develop multiple ways of thinking and problem solving. The following three strategies were the three I feel are the most influential.
                8. Prompt the students to engage in self-analysis.
                9. Encourage goal setting and task identification.
                10. Engage in joint problem finding and problem solving.

These three strategies are enabling and teaching students to become self-sufficient. This not only works in composition, but in all areas of education. A well-rounded education can be achieved using these types of strategies.

                While using music composition software can be helpful, it can also be detrimental to a student’s musical education if not used correctly. It’s not enough that students can write notes down on paper, they need to be able to expect what they want to hear in their mind (audiate) before it is written down (Bauer, p. 66). Bauer presents icon-based software that can be used for students, particularly younger students, who may not be fluent in reading music notation yet (p. 64). I see this type of software being useful in my class to help support the development of my students’ ability to audiate music and develop an expectation of what they want to hear. It also fuels the ability to reason and justify why specific choices were made in composition. Not only do these programs make composing more accessible for children, it can also take away some of the anxiety that teachers may have had about teaching students to compose. These programs present composing in a fun and simple way to promote student creativity and individuality.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Reflection to Noteflight

Noteflight is an online program that allows people to compose music without having to download anything onto the computer. The program allows users to input all items one might need in order to compose a composition. What is unique about this program, is that it gives users to option to share their work with others and possibly collaborate with others on each other’s work. These options make this program very useful in the music classroom. Students can compose their own music, but they can also check each other’s work and make comments and critiques. Also, the entire class could collaborate together to create one large composition. The best part about this program is the fact that is free, which makes it very appealing to educators. There are options to pay for the more advanced program however, for schools the free version will be sufficient. 
My first Noteflight project!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Reflection to reading - Music Technology Week 2

This week’s reading focuses on the “creating” process of music, particularly improvisation. Reading this portion of chapter three opened a window of opportunity for me. This past winter, I exposed my junior high choir students to some jazz music. As we all are aware, improvisation is embedded heavily in jazz. Next year, I plan on incorporating more jazz repertoire in my curriculum both in chorus and general music. The one element that I decided to spend the least amount of time on is improvisation. Bauer (p. 55) explains that the use of certain technology programs can provide accompaniments for the students to explore improvisation as well as record themselves to listen back. Through reading this text, I have discovered that technology can help to enhance students’ abilities and confidence with improvisation. Using this technology could expose my students to a whole new world of creativity. I appreciate how Bauer explains the seven steps for the process of learning to improvise as well.
The use of this technology is very valuable to music education. As stated in the reading from last week, students can take ownership of their own learning. Granted, teachers will need to be there to facilitate and answer any questions, but students can learn to improvise, record, critique, and revise on their own. Trying to get students to excel in creativity and critical thinking has become very important and this technology can assist students in developing those processes.  
One trend that I have found in my teaching is that a lot of my general music students do not particularly care to learn how to read, and write music, or study about the life and music of Mozart. However, most of them spend much of their time at home listening to music. At the beginning of chapter three, Bauer (p. 45) mentions a teacher who teaches the students how to take music and manipulate through the use of technology. I would like to look into these types of programs to see if perhaps I can connect with more of my students. My goal is to not train to students to become professional musicians, but to appreciate music in all of its forms. The use of this technology can help to engage students even more in the classroom and explore their creative potential.
I have heard of certain programs like SmartMusic, Sibelius, and Finale when I was working on undergraduate work, but I never imagined that these programs would be accessible for students that are still in elementary or high school. After reading these chapters and listening to the online videos, I have found that a lot of these programs can be used at the elementary, junior high, and high school levels. Bauer explains that a lot of these programs can and should be used in the music classroom pre-college because of the benefits that they haves on the education of students. It has never occurred that these programs would benefit the students that simply love music as a hobby, not as a career. I am beginning to see more and more the value of these technologies in education and how they can enhance the learning capabilities of students.

Reference list

Bauer, W. (2014). Music learning today: Digital pedagogy for creating, performing, and responding to music. New York, NY: Oxford University Press 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Reflection to reading - Music Technology Week 1

            Based on what I read in chapter one of William Bauer’s Music Learning Today: Digital Pedagogy for Creating, Performing, and Responding to Music, technology has become, and continues to become even more, an integral part of everyday life and education. People have the capability to socialize, and collaborate with people from all over the world through the use of social media and digital technology. Students are able to communicate with their friends and family members through social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many others. They can also communicate with each other through the use of video games either on consoles or handheld mobile devices.
Educators use technology in their classrooms every day, whether is through use of computers, whiteboards, projects, etc. The use of technology, particularly digital technology, has shown to slightly improve students’ learning capabilities (Bauer, p. 7).  In my teaching situation, every classroom at my school has an interactive smartboard setup. I typically only use the smartboard to post my objectives for the day and show videos to my students. There are times when I have students come up to the smartboard and use it as a learning tool. Bauer states that today’s youth are considered to be digital natives and are immersed in technology (p. 5). My students are quite savvy when it comes time to interactively use the smartboard or any other source of technology in the room.
I would like to expand on what Bauer writes in this first chapter. I have found the digital technology not only enhances my students’ learning capabilities, but it also helps keep my students engaged throughout the class. I appreciate the statement made by Bauer (p. 7) that through the use of technology, students can take control over their own learning. In our school district, there is a push toward student-centered learning. The teacher should not be the only one directing the learning, the students need to take partial responsibility for their own education. The use of technology allows students to take on that responsibility with a hands-on approach to education as well as keep students engaged.
A shift in my teaching style was made at the beginning of this school year. I really wanted to focus on the “creating” component of music education. This year, and in past years, I have had my students compose brief compositions using tradition staff paper and acoustic instruments. However, the lesson was always prefaced with an interactive digital lesson on the smartboard where students used a website to create a “hip-hop” style musical background. The compositions were then performed, typically on the piano by the teacher, using the background music. In reading this chapter, I have discovered ways in which students can compose music using something other than the tradition pen and paper. While I thought my students did well with their compositions, I feel like students might be able to tap into their creative sides even more using certain programs such as Music-COMP. Technology in the classroom is there for a reason: to assist the teacher and the students in creating a learning environment suitable for everyone.    

Bauer, W. (2014). Music learning today: Digital pedagogy for creating, performing, and responding to music. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.