Why Music Educators Should Embrace Music Apps, MIDI Instruments, and Pro Audio Equipment
If you’ve been teaching music for a long time, there’s a good chance you currently view technology in your classroom as a dreaded foe instead of a cherished asset. Tech addiction is real, afterall, and students are especially susceptible to it because of their age and inexperience. But while smartphones, tablets, and a constant digital connection to the outside world poses serious challenges to today’s music educators, there’s an important silver lining we should be paying attention to in music education. When it comes to tech’s relationship with music, there are exciting benefits to be found for teachers and students alike. In this article, we’ll argue that music educators of every age and teaching style can and should utilize technology in their classrooms, and we’ll share actionable tips on how best to incorporate it.
Why music educators should adapt to new technologies in their classrooms
If you’re leery of technology influencing the way you teach music, your feelings are justified. Handheld devices like tablets and smartphones give today’s music students unfettered access to the internet, and that makes for a constant host of distractions that many kids simply aren’t able to resist. There’s no denying how much of a headache technology gives modern music teachers, but there are incredible educational benefits to be found as well. Everything from wireless keyboards to fun and savvy music theory apps are helping today’s music educators teach more efficiently and effectively in their classrooms. According to a music education survey conducted by PBS, seven out of 10 teachers surveyed claimed that educational tech allowed them to do “much more than ever before” for their music students.
It’s natural for some educators to resist change, especially if it comes in the form of apps and devices, but doing so leaves music teachers at an increasingly wide disadvantage in comparison to their peers. Smart and effective tech integration is not only now the norm for music classrooms, but is also an invaluable resource for modern music students. Swearing off tech in your work will leave you and the students you teach far behind other music classrooms.
Tips for adapting to new technologies in your classroom
While some educators cite tech-related distraction for why they haven’t adapted to new technologies in their classroom, many simply feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. The good news is that you don’t have to make a tech-forward transformation overnight. Here are some practical tips to help you get started:
- Ask for help - Chances are, there’s more than one person within your own music program who can help advise you on bringing tech into your classroom. If you’re unsure of something tech-related, ask someone for help.
- Add in one new element at a time - Incorporating too much new tech too soon is a recipe for getting overwhelmed and burnt out. A better approach is to gradually add in new tech one piece at a time and mastering new elements as you go along.
- Learn more about tech in music education by attending conferences and researching online - An excellent way to get introduced to tech in the music classroom is by learning from experts featured at conferences and webinars or by watching videos online.
- Be patient with yourself and your students - Embracing education-related tech for the first time can be frustrating and humbling. Be sure to show patience not only to yourself through this process, but also your students.
- Match your needs with your program’s budget - You might want to run out and purchase 30 iPads for your program, but your budget may not allow that. By matching your program’s specific needs with your budget, you’ll be able to incorporate tech into your classroom in a meaningful and sustainable way. It’s also important to note that just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it will improve your role as an educator in a significant way. Before you make serious purchases, make sure to do your research.
How tech is improving the music education experience
Tech has more of an impact on music education than it does in other educational fields. From sight-reading to intervals, technology makes music education more accessible and easier to understand for students. On behalf of educators, tech saves time and stress by making it easier to communicate ideas and set up exercises and lessons.
Here are just a few of the ways modern music educators are using tech to enrich the teaching experience in their classrooms:
- Music-based apps - From tuners and metronomes to fun games based around ear training and music theory, apps can enhance your teaching experience significantly. For the uninitiated, apps are short for “applications,” and they can be used on tablets, smartphones, and computers. If you’re teaching music-reading, for example, apps can help provide visual exercises and lessons for your students.
- MIDI instruments - MIDI stands for musical instrument digital interface. Something as basic as a small MIDI keyboard will allow you to upload sequences of music into your computer which can then be edited. These instruments are phenomenal not only for teaching, but also for learning on behalf of your students.
- Music reading - Books and sheet music are bulky and often tricky to navigate. If your program has tablets like iPads, your students will be able to read music straight from their devices.
- Software - Modern music software allows teachers and students to compose music, record and edit sounds, and do much, much more.
- Pro audio - Ideal for projecting otherwise quiet music lessons, speakers and mixing consoles help music educators get heard when they need to be. Microphones and wireless systems allow music educators like band directors to lead their students outdoors and in noisy indoor situations.
If you’re an especially unsavvy music teacher when it comes to tech, some advice you’ve almost certainly given your students comes to mind: be patient, you’ll get better with practice, and always remember to be kind to yourself. It may be tough in the beginning, but you’ll learn how to make things work over time, and eventually the teaching experience will improve both for you and your students.
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