Developing the musician through Music technology (part 1)

by Liz Dunbar

Part 1: Thinking deeply about how to employ Music Technology to musical ends, and embed it in your curriculum thinking/ progression/planning.

In our KS3 curriculum planning at Huntington, we integrate pretty much all aspects of musical learning into every scheme - listening, analysing, performing, improvising, composing, arranging.

If it’s a unit where students have access to sequencing/recording facilities then we’ll think and plan differently to units where we are asking students to use Music technology beyond the classroom. In scenario 2, we’ve also got to take into account the range of devices students have at home, and for those who have nothing, the ways in which we can enable everyone to have access to meaningful musical learning of some kind.

Six questions to guide your thinking:

  1. What is it that Music Tech is bringing to this unit that we can’t achieve through live hands-on making and doing?
  2. What are we wanting student responses through Music Tech to reveal in a student’s understanding/handling of sound, that we might not have been able to see/hear through live hands-on making and doing?
  3. How can we take advantage of the fact that students can see, hear and manipulate music on their own screen?
  4. How can we use Music Tech to increase students’ musical autonomy?
  5. How can we use Music Tech to train ears?
  6. How might the use of Music technology help embed the language of Music?

Example answers:

  1. The ability to realise an idea in sound without the restrictions of physical technique.
  2. The ability to illustrate an aspect of discernment eg by thinning /lightening a texture.
  3. By enabling students to be able to experiment with ideas in a number of different ways  - recording live, editing, reworking, tidying up, making connections between sound and conventional notation or the graphics of an edit screen.
  4. By presenting students with tasks that means they have to dwell, and dig around for a solution - building resilience - also cutting down the frustration of hanging around or being moved on (I’d have got that with a couple more seconds thinking time…..) Building in the flexibility for that thinking time to take place.
  5. By presenting material with errors, and a gradation of errors from the glaringly obvious to the ultra subtle - again with students having the autonomy to work at their own pace/manage their time.
  6. By making paired discussion work a constant and necessary musical language conversation. By embedding key language in on-screen recording frameworks.