Resources for Technology-Minded
by James Frankel
There are many sources of information readily available on how to use various pieces of music technology. These “how-to” books are rich with information on the capabilities and applications of the tools, but are often lacking when it comes to how to best use them in the music classroom. Make no mistake, it is crucial to understand the specifics of the technology in order to properly use it in the classroom. Furthermore, the possible applications of the technology in the music classroom is usually not the intention of the author writing the “how-to” book. Music teachers using technology in the classroom have had to use their own expertise and creativity to find and develop meaningful activities for their students.
Over the past few years, there have been a number of books published that address this very issue. These books not only describe how to use the technology in layman’s terms, many give detailed teaching strategies on the applications for the technology. The following are some of these resources, along with a brief description.
Teaching Music with Technology. By Thomas E. Rudolph. GIA Publications, Inc., Chicago, 1996. Softcover, $19.95.
Without question, if you are looking for a comprehensive resource about music technology, start with this one. Mr. Rudolph is an authority on technology in the music classroom. This book stems from the many clinics he has presented throughout the United States, as well as his numerous articles, and his own classroom use of technology over the past twenty years.
The book is divided into seventeen chapters, each one dealing with a different aspect of music technology. The main body of the book serves as a “how-to” guide for MIDI, sequencers, CD ROM’s, educational software, notation programs, and synthesizers. Within each of the chapters there are teaching strategies that suggest possible uses for the technology that has just been discussed. The strategies are just one or two sentences that serve as starting points. In one chapter, Computer-Aided Music Instruction, Rudolph gives very specific details on the various applications of technology, and the basics behind each of the teaching strategies. There are also chapters about administrative applications, the internet, and even how to fund a music technology lab.
Whether you know very little about technology or use it everyday in your classroom, this is one book you should definitely add to your library.
Experiencing Music Technology. By David Williams and Peter Webster. Schirmer Books, New York, 1996, 2nd Edition 1999. Softcover with CD ROM, $55.00.
This book is a thorough encyclopedia of music technology and its applications. Extremely detailed and very well written, Williams and Webster have created an invaluable resource for music educators. This book is quickly becoming the textbook of choice for music education majors in colleges and universities across the country.
Like the Rudolph book, this book is divided into many chapters (called “viewports and modules”), each dealing with a specific aspect of music technology. Unlike the Rudolph book, this book has less of a classroom oriented focus. Here the focus is more on how to best use each piece of technology. There is one specific “viewport” however, that deals with computer-assisted instruction in music. This section gives an overview of educational software titles that can be used in the classroom, and how they can be used. The main body of the book gives detailed instructions on how to use virtually every piece of music technology, from modems to CD players, from synthesizers to laser printers, it’s all here.
What is so refreshing about this book is that it makes an effort to stay away from using confusing jargon. Often, how-to books are just as confusing as instruction manuals, and we all know how confusing they can be. Another nice feature is the CD ROM that accompanies the text. Included on the CD ROM are hands-on exercises related to the text, as well as shareware and demo versions of many popular commercial software titles.
Add this to your library, especially the new 2nd edition. It will answer any question you might have, regardless of how much you think you already know.
Technology Strategies for Music Education. By Thomas Rudolph, Floyd Richmond, David Mash and David Williams. TI:ME Publications, Wyncote, PA, 1997. Spiral-bound, $14.95.
Created by the Technology Institute for Music Educators, TI:ME, this collection of 201 technology-oriented lesson plans is geared towards implementing the National Standards in Music Education. Aside from the specific lesson plans, there are sections on the importance of technology in music education, brief overviews of the various applications, as well as tips on maintaining your technology lab.
For each of the nine National Standards there are a number of student activities and teacher strategies outlined. Aside from the brief suggested activities, there is a short narrative giving an overall sense of how technology can be used with the standard.
After listing technology applications for each of the nine National Standards, the book goes into everyday uses of technology. These uses include administrative tasks, marching band show design, internet uses, and multimedia presentation suggestions.
TI:ME also offers courses and certification in technology uses in the classroom. The last portion of the book is an overview of what the certification entails, and how TI:ME can help you learn more about technology. Check out their website for further information:
Computers and the Music Educator. By David S. Mash
4th edition. SoundTree Publications, Melville, NY, 1996. Softcover with Media Tools 2.1, $14.95.
David Mash has long been an important figure in the music technology field. He has written both books and articles dealing with various aspects of technology, and with this book, he focuses completely on the uses of technology in the music classroom. What makes this book a little different than the others is that it names products, and gives detailed information about each one. Whether you are looking for a decent MIDI wind controller, or need to know which sequencing software to buy, you’ll find the information here.
The book is divided into three sections, an introduction, a look at technology in music education, and a reference guide. In the section dealing with technology in music education, Mash gives many suggestions for technology applications in the theory class, music history, composition and performance applications. He also gives us a look at what a music classroom of the future might look like (which four years later is pretty close to reality). There is also a helpful look into incorporating technology into the music curriculum, offering suggestions for possible courses.
The reference section of the book is extremely helpful if you are looking for phone numbers, website addresses or recommendations on specific products.
The book also comes with Media Tools 2.1, a plug-in program for HyperCard. This program makes adding audio and video data to a HyperCard stack quite simple. The software alone is worth the price of this invaluable book.
Applications of Research in Music Technology. By William L. Berz and Judith Bowman. MENC Publications, Reston, VA, 1994. Softcover, $16.25.
Written in part by one of our very own Tempo contributors, this book is the perfect start whether you are asking yourself whether technology in the music classroom makes sense, trying to convince your Board of Education to fund a technology lab or need suggestions for how to best use technology in the music classroom.
Every aspect of music education is covered in the book, as well as the practical applications of technology. Berz and Bowman site hundreds of research studies that concern the use of technology in the music classroom. In some cases, the research shows that with some aspects of music education traditional means are better, and in others, technology assisted methods prevail. This information will help greatly when determining how to implement technology into the existing music curriculum. There are some aspects of music education where technology just doesn’t belong, and some aspects where without technology, a great deal is missed. The sited research clearly shows the strengths and weaknesses of technology.
The strength of this book lies in the research sited. The authors look at technology in an objective manner, and let the reader decide the role that technology will have in their own music classrooms. In the fourth chapter, “Conclusions and Summary”, teaching strategies are discussed and points for consideration are offered. The authors also point out that there is a great need for much more research to be done in this fast growing aspect of music education.
Whether you are just getting into technology, or have been using it for years, these five resources are a must for your library. Some are available at online book retail sites, others are available through MENC. If you need help finding them, feel free to email me and I will steer you in the right direction.