Saturday, January 26, 2008

What Is Music Technology?

What is Music Technology when we are talking about a class with the same name?

There are many ways to answer the question but for the purpose of refining the focus of this blog and for the benefit of those who are left wondering, here's a concise definition.

Music Technology by itself can mean digital musical instruments such as digital keyboards and sequencers. In Education though, music technology refers to technological applications (computers, software, digital sound machines, keyboards, etc..) being used to learn about and to create music. The term Music Education Technology might be more accurate but Music Technology works just as well.

Most elementary classroom music programs in the U.S. are still called General Music. This is where basic fundamentals of music are taught and learned. Increasingly, music technology labs are being adopted in secondary music classrooms (Grades6-12). These classrooms usually contain MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) labs where computers are connected to digital keyboards. Software is usually loaded onto the computers that allow for the learning of music via the direct manipulation of keys on the digital keyboards or via the computer mouse.

Some Music Notation programs will actually display notes on the computer screen that a music student plays on the digital keyboard. In this context the keyboard is called a MIDI instrument since it is connected to a computer. Other programs are focused on music literacy and offer game-like lessons that allow students to learn about musical elements such as music notation, scales, key signatures, clefs, time signatures and timbre.

With the increased use of technology in Education and in student's lives, it is well worth a school district's time and expense to gradually adopt music technology programs. The ubiquitous nature of the i-pod is reason enough to go this route. Performing programs such as Band and Chorus should always be a part of every school in the country but music technology programs should also exist to serve the musical interests of non-performing students. In terms of enrollment, these students usually outnumber the performers 3:1.

To learn more, try giving a Music Education Technology Magazine a read. There are many articles and examples to sample.

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