Archive for the ‘Discussion’ category

Required Comment 2: Reflect on the two assignments

April 15, 2008

Please take a moment and comment on the Audacity and GarageBand assignments. How would you revise them? What was the biggest challenge? What did you enjoy? How much do you like your final compositions?

You don’t need to answer all of these, but do take a bit of time to reflect on and comment on those aspects that were most meaningful as well as most problematic


CAI in Music Education

April 10, 2008

This week we’ll be investigating several CAI (computer-assisted instruction) resources that teachers use in music. Under the category of intelligent accompaniment, we will take a look at SmartMusic ( which is made by MakeMusic; the company that makes Finale. We will also look at Sibelius’ new counterpart called Starplay ( The different uses of these programs will be discussed in class, but I would encourage you to take a look at the demo videos, and even download the free versions to try each of them for yourself.

You will also be assigned several CAI software titles that we have available in our lab to write a review on. Your reviews should be posted here by no later than Thursday (4/17) at 2pm. In your review, you should try to answer the following questions:

1. How intuitive was the software? Were you able to navigate easily? Would students be able to?
2. How effective is this title in teaching music concepts? What concepts does the program focus on?
3. What level(s) would this program be best suited for?
4. Would you use this title in your teaching? Why or why not?

Your reviews should take the format of title of the program followed by a paragraph review. Example:

Music Ace
Music Ace is a fun and interesting program for learning basic music reading, etc.

Write these paragraphs as though they were going to be published as reviews in a music education periodical (i.e. Teaching Music or Illinois Music Educator). The programs to review are:

Music Ace 1 & 2
Music Lessons 1 & 2
Sibelius Instruments
Sibelius Groovy Shapes
Practica Musica

Quick Bytes: “no budget” music technology

November 29, 2007

In the interviews you conducted with music teachers, many of you noted that cost and availability are an issue. For just a moment, I want to focus on the wealth of technology resources that are available for next to nothing. If I were running a music program, and I did not have any technology resources, here’s what I would do:

1. Solicit donations of older computers (either Mac or PC). Particularly in industry, machines that are three or four years old are often retired, and many businesses and individuals love donating to schools. A machine that is three years old, or even five or six years old, often has more than enough computing capability. In fact, at the elementary school where I taught, one teacher collected all the old Apple classic computers she could get her hands on, giving her a complete computer lab within her classroom (she had about 21 machines, which he used mostly in teaching writing with her students). It used to be the case that it was hard to get a computer that could really do everything you would want to do, but these days it is hard to get a computer that can’t handle all the basic tasks admirably.

2. Load the computers up with free and open source software. We haven’t spoken about this much, but there are great free alternatives to many programs. Open Office is a great substitute for Microsoft Office, GIMP is an open source pixel editing program like Adobe Photoshop, InkScape is a free competitor to Adobe Illustrator, Finale Notepad has already been explored by us, and of course Audacity. All of these programs could be installed on a computer without spending a dime, and would allow students not only to learn to use them, but to download the same programs if they have a computer at home. If you or some of your students are Linux-savvy, you could install Planet CCRMA, which has hundreds of free programs and is focused on professional level audio (in fact, if you want to drool, look at how many free programs are included for everything from video work to DJing).

3. Carefully spend money on high impact hardware. A decent microphone would allow for recording nearly everything. A few electronic piano keyboards with headphones would be fantastic for students to explore music making. Once a basic lab was in place, it would be easy within most school districts to raise $500 or so to purchase some of this equipment.

4. For computers that do not have a MIDI keyboard, it is often possible to get an application that allows students to play the piano using the QWERTY keyboard (try this out: open GarageBand, and then hit the caps lock button.]

5. Use free services to set up a weblog, website, etc. The weblog for this class is a free account, and we haven’t had any problems yet (knock on wood). By contrast, the school of music website has been down for weeks (no comment).

By the way, speaking of free software, we have loaded open office, audacity, GIMP, and Inkscape onto these machines. Feel free to take them on a test drive!

Please Briefly Comment: Audacity Assignment

November 13, 2007

Today, we will have a chance to listen to the completed Audacity assignments, along with the pieces your groups made using GarageBand.

Take a moment to give Adam and I feedback for the Audacity assignment. Specifically, please briefly comment on the following:
1. This assignment aimed to give you experience exploring manipulating recorded sound. Do you feel that you have a better sense of how sound can be heavily manipulated? Is this something that you might do more with in the future, or an assignment you would assign to your own students?
2. What should we spend more time teaching with this assignment? What were the biggest problems in using Audacity? If you have other suggestions for doing an assignment like this differently, please let us know!

Where Did These Sounds Come from?
For those of you who are curious, here’s where the two sounds for the Audacity project originated. Both were recorded the daily assignment was given out using my Samson C10U USB microphone:
1. The percussive sound was none other than my trusty Swingline! I stapled a piece of paper. It actually took about 15 tries to get on that sounded really nice (in part because my office air-conditioning kept coming on, and the custodian was vacuuming around the office area).
2. Tawnya, one of the doctoral students here, said yes when asked if she would read a headline. I cut out the words “just pretending” from this story from the satirical college paper The Onion (I also have this on the door to my office, which is where she read it from).

On Forming Groups… (Please Comment)

October 25, 2007

One of you brought up a great question on Tuesday, “How are we going to form groups for this project?”

Here’s the answer: for this project, you should form a group that is three or four students in size, and you should work with people you haven’t worked with yet. You may not refuse anyone entry into your group, and the goal is to settle on a group quickly and get right to work as the assignment is due on Tuesday (at the end of class).

Teachers make these kinds of decisions for their students all the time. There are lots of ways to organize groups for working together, and which read as she works best depends on the students, the assignment, the teacher, etc. 

Please quickly comment: What are some of the ways that you have been asked to form groups in your own teaching or experiences as a student? Are there any group strategies that you particularly like or dislike for certain settings?

What music courses/subjects/units could we offer to attract all students?

August 28, 2007

In class, we talked about how the first reading pointed out that only around 12% of students participate in performance-based music programs. Matt raised the question, “What class could we offer that would appeal to all students?”

Please comment. Note: I’m not interested in a course that would merely be popular (e.g. “Let’s all watch MTV”); rather, this should be a class that students would love to take and be something that could be educationally valid.