This week’s reflection comes at an interesting time for me, as I have recently secured a new teaching position for this coming school year. Although I am coming from a general music background, my goal has been to focus professionally on choral instruction. Come September, I will be the Middle School Choral Director in my home town, where I first learned to love and appreciate music, alongside some of the teachers who helped me get to this point in my career. And I am thrilled about this! This time of transition also provides unusual opportunities for reflection on our class lectures, readings, and discussions. As I learn about implementations of technology, my inclinations are to first envision how I would use them in a familiar setting, that is my former elementary general classroom. However, I am also in the process of mentally transitioning into my new position working with older students in an entirely choral setting, where I am not as familiar with what technology will be available to me and my students.
This week’s lecture was a concise overview of some of the aspects of music notation software, which was helpful before diving into the much more in-depth readings for the week. Bauer’s (2014) discussion of MIDI technology was very technical, but I appreciated that it was presented in an accessible manner. Although I had a very basic understanding of MIDI files and have converted some in the past, this reading absolutely improved my technical understanding of how MIDI files function. Just like with any other subject, a deeper understanding is necessary as a teacher before being able to confidently instruct students in the topic.
As Bauer points out in Chapter 3, most activities in a music classroom engage with creative, performative, and responsive learning standards simultaneously. Technology in the classroom is an especially useful way to focus on creativity-centered learning objectives independently. Robinson (as cited in Bauer, 2014) argued that the development of creative skills for our students should be a priority in all areas of schooling. However opportunities are becoming more and more scarce as standardized testing continues to flourish and music and arts programs continue to be cut. In a choral classroom, collaborative creativity is commonplace. However, I believe it can sometimes be difficult to incorporate opportunities for individual creativity. Since I am unaware what technology I will have access to in my future classroom besides an interactive whiteboard, it is difficult to speculate what opportunities I will be able to incorporate that foster individual creativity, such as composition or improvisation. Even without one-to-one technology in the classroom students could complete projects at home using Noteflight that could be a later valuable tool in the classroom. For instance, once students have a basic understanding of sight singing skills, perhaps a homework assignment could be to create a tonal melody or simple two part composition at home to be used as a sight-singing exercise within the chorus rehearsal. This sort of assignment would expose students to valuable music technology, assess their understanding of melody and rhythm in a compositional form, provide a creative opportunity, and be scaffolded into a future lesson by incorporating the student work as a sight-singing exercise.
Bauer, W. I. (2014). Music learning today: digital pedagogy for creating, performing, and responding to music. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.