Sunday, September 20, 2015

Week 4 in review

This week's module was a great one in that it got me thinking about all the potential technologies that we music educators can use in day-to-day classes.  These technologies focus primarily on performance-related activities.  In addition, we had a chance to work with the Audacity program.

My favorite technology that was mentioned by Bauer (2014) was SmartMusic.  I have used this program for the past six years and find it very useful.  I primarily use SmartMusic to aid my students' preparation for solo contest as the software provides piano accompaniment for most standard solos.   I know of many band directors who use the program on site at solo and ensemble events.  In addition to solo accompaniments, I have used SmartMusic with students who are learning an instrument and are trying to catch up to the rest of their class (a beginning 8th grade student for instance).  I have also allowed students to use the program to practice music that we may be preparing for a concert or honor band.

One aspect that I have not utilized with SmartMusic and would like to is improvisation practice. Improvisation is a major weakness of mine and is something that I would like to improve on myself in order to help my students become more comfortable and successful.

Other technologies used in my class include tuners, metronomes (including internet based), digital audio recorders, and playback equipment.  I would like to have a SmartBoard in my class as I believe the door would be opened to use certain music theory programs for my classes.  I could also utilize YouTube much more than I do now.  I currently use YouTube to play recordings for my students.  It would be great to also be able to show them the video of performing ensembles.

I used Audacity to do a remix of the Mahna Mahna song from the Muppet Show.  While it was fun to work with, there were some challenges.  It was very tough to get certain tracks to line-up.  The piece has a groove that is set by a drumset.  When I tried to mix certain tracks together, it was very difficult to get the groove from the two tracks to line up.  The special effects are plentiful and fun to play with.  The user can get as detailed with the effects as they wish.  From an educational standpoint, I am not sure how useful the program could be for secondary students.  I think that it would be fun for them to mess around with, however, I feel that they would get much more out of other composition programs.  

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