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Music Technology in the Classroom
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Author: Barbara Freedman
A Blended Learning Experiment in the High School Music Technology Classroom: Part 1

I have been teaching in a music technology classroom at Greenwich High School for twelve years. In that time, I have developed an extensive curriculum with four levels of classes. My Introduction to Electronic Music class is a one-semester class that is so popular we have five to six sections each semester with up to 20 kids per class. Given this is a one-semester course, I am under a strict schedule to make sure I deliver the curriculum with specific benchmarks. I am usually pretty good with lesson planning and scheduling to make sure students have enough time to accomplish the assignments but sometimes things don’t always work out as planned.

I have been teaching in a music technology classroom at Greenwich High School for twelve years. In that time, I have developed an extensive curriculum with four levels of classes. My Introduction to Electronic Music class is a one-semester class that is so popular we have five to six sections each semester with up to 20 kids per class. Given this is a one-semester course, I am under a strict schedule to make sure I deliver the curriculum with specific benchmarks. I am usually pretty good with lesson planning and scheduling to make sure students have enough time to accomplish the assignments but sometimes things don’t always work out as planned.

Back in 1999, after the Winter Break, I found that we were a bit behind due to incurred snow days and an outbreak of flu that kept many kids, and myself, home. There were several kids in each class who had missed the lesson in which I explained, in great detail, the Final Project. In one class, I gathered the previously absent students around one computer to explain the Final Project while the others worked on the assignment. It then dawned on me that there were still some kids who were absent and I would need to repeat the explanation for them when they returned. This issue could be multiplied over all my classes. Was I now going to explain this Final Project ten or more times? I remembered I purchased screen-casting software so I could record my voice and a video of what I was demonstrating on the screen. I opened the software, pressed record and began my explanation. I took that video and put it in the Shared Folder (we use Remote Desktop by Apple, a network management software). Now, all my students, would have access to the video when in class. I could refer the absent students to the video when they returned to class and, if any other student had a question, was confused or forgot how to do the assignment, I could refer them to the video, too. To my great surprise, it worked well. For the next few years I used this video and a few others I created for this and my other courses.

This year, I am teaching a graduate course entirely online (Teaching Music with GarageBand) and learned a great deal about “best practices” in creating demonstration videos. I have also been doing a lot of research and reading on Blended Learning, Hybrid Teaching, and The Flipped Classroom. These types of courses offer both online and in class learning experience. Often in a Flipped Classroom the demonstration/explanation videos and other materials are given to review as homework. Students then come to class where the teacher can be present as a “coach” or mentor or explain further as needed and they do work or projects to demonstrate an understanding of learned materials. The issue teachers encounter is that if your school is not a 1:1 school and does not provide each student with the technology to retrieve video demonstrations or software to do the assignments, we cannot expect students to do this kind of work at home. In a music technology classroom, mostly, teacher explanations, demonstrations, and student assignments are done during class time where all the materials can be provided.

This year, I decided to do an experiment with my Introduction to Electronic Music classes. I created an entire unit where I would give very little “live” explanation about the assignments but provided students with detailed assignment sheets, complete with graphics, and corresponding video explaining and demonstrating how to do each assignment in the software. All the teaching and work would be done in class just as always except, this time, they would be listening and watching me explain and demonstrate via video screen-cast. The unit I chose was the Final Project.

The Final Project for my introductory course is made up of several parts. Students create a melody and then five variations on that melody. The melodic variations are very

 

Read the rest of A Blended Learning Experiment in the High School Music Technology Classroom: Part 1

Barbara Freedman

Barbara Ann Freedman has been teaching music since 1997, and teaching Electronic Music & Audio Engineering at Greenwich High School in Connecticut since 2001. She is the Co-President of the Music Educator Technologists Association/Technology Institute for Music Educators (META/TI:ME), Connecticut Chapter, an association of music educators founded in 1989. Barbara is the recipient of the 2012 TI:ME Music Technology Teacher of the Year. She is an author, consultant, trainer, and frequent presenter/clinician at local, state, and national in-service conferences and events. Her book, Teaching Music Through Composition: A Curriculum Using Technology is published by Oxford University Press. She is a professional timpanist and percussionist working regularly with the Ridgefield, Bridgeport, and Norwalk (CT) Symphonies, and has worked with other New York Tri-state orchestras, opera and ballet companies. In addition to her work with orchestras, she has performed on Broadway, in popular and folk bands, and Renaissance ensembles. Barbara is the Music Director of the Sound Beach Community Band of Greenwich, Connecticut, one of the nation’s oldest community bands. She holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Music in Performance from Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music City University of New York and a Professional Studies Diploma from the Mannes College of Music. She studied conducting at the Hartt School of Music, Westminster Choir College, and The Julliard School. She is TI:ME Level 1 certified.

For more information about Electronic Music at Greenwich High School, please click HERE.

 


 
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