What if Mozart had MIDI?

After a professional development session this week, I was talking to one of our music teachers who does an excellent job of integrating technology into the regular band and vocal music course offerings. Classroom uses embrace composition, arranging, recording, sequencing, accompanying and theory instruction. Software packages used included packages for both Mac and Windows – Finale, Band in a Box, Garage Band and Sequel. This spun off into a conversation reminiscing about the ‘old days’ – meaning before MIDI, sound samples, loops, powerful notation software etc.

I told him about the WX5 MIDI wind instrument I had been playing over the summer (reaction = wow), he told me about new professional level sound samples he is using for some scoring work he is doing – cool.

As a technology user, it is easy to look at something as the next logical step of development. So yes, maybe a ‘cool’ factor to a new device or sound. Lets pause for a moment and step back. The changes in this technology area in the last dozen years is absolutely phenomenal = WOW.  Look at what you can do with  home/school level equipment and software. Truly amazing.

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Pictured above, are the WX5 MIDI wind instrument, an electric violin and an electric guitar equipped with a pitch to MIDI device.

Think of the impact Bach or Mozart had on the world of music. I wonder what would have happened to music development if this equipment was available in their time or they were alive now. One thing for sure, they would have as much fun with technology as we are!!!

Just wondering ….

~ Mark

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Engaged students: Have we lost the team?

This is certainly an exciting time in education. We have achieved much, we know more,  the learning environment is potentially richer than ever before.  Yet, as I continue to read about key educational strategies and issues, I note one disconnect.

Student engagement! It is talked about, and it should be. It is the focus of teachers and curriculum planning, and it should be. What bothers me is that it is often talked about in isolation.

In an earlier blog post where I weighed in on a 20th/21st century learning discussion I ended my comments with the following statement:

Our journey is all about the learner. Creating the best possible learning environment covers the ‘whole playing field’ – curriculum design, building design, teacher training, assessment, changing with the times, best use of technology and steady, reflective incremental improvement. After all, we are life long learners!

I will stick by this. Teachers, mentors, Boards of Education should play a critical role in engaging students. Why do we talk about this in isolation of parent/guardian roles and responsibilities, and personal ownership.

I had the wonderful experience of having my children study music in the Suzuki string method. Dr. Suzuki designed his entire curriculum, ‘talent education’ in his terms, a clear foundation of student, parent and teacher roles responsibilities were laid out right from the beginning. After finishing 12 years in the program, that foundation is centre of everything that happens. I believe this foundation is one of the keys to the success of the program. In parallel to the education systems, teaching training, resources, curriculum design etc. also play the same key functions. I have great admiration for the work of Dr. Suzuki and all of the wonderful teachers who deliver this excellent music curriculum to students.

Let’s not lose the team aspect of engaged learners in our systems. We must continue to excel in all of the areas that we control in the education systems. Team: students, teachers and parents – fully engaged learning communities.

Related Reading

Dr. Shinichi Suzuki
Introduction to Suzuki
Nurtured by Love

~ Mark