Monday, February 9, 2015

Accelerating Learning in Music Classes with Technology

Students in our schools are fortunate to be in a 1:1 iPad environment, where tablets allow technology integration to occur in all subject areas. Handwriting, annotating, scribbling notes in margins, sketching out ideas and drawing pictures are important components to learning, manipulating content, and creation of connections and new ideas. The iPad has provided us with multiple ways to do this.

For example, in our music classes students are using the iPad to enhance and accelerate their learning.  In this video footage recorded last week, middle school band students are annotating their music while their teacher, Paul Rosen, plays a song.  Students were to mark up their music as they heard errors he purposely made while playing.  They can then learn from these markings and annotations to prevent making the same errors when they played the music themselves.

Music students in band, choir, and orchestra regularly mark up their music on their iPad. They also use it in many other ways for their music studies.  Students can accessing recordings teachers have made and posted to Schoology as well as listen to recordings of the entire band/choir/orchestra with which they can play and practice along, making practice time at home more effective.  Students no longer repeatedly practice playing or singing a part incorrectly. 

The iPad is also used for assessments. Teachers have their students record themselves playing or singing a piece and submit this audio/video recording electronically to their instructor with their iPad to Schoology.  The instructor can provide each individual with specific feedback, either written, typed, or audio or video recorded, and post their rubrics in Schoology.

A teacher recently pointed out to me how much additional instructional time this creates for students.  Prior to 1:1 devices, the instructor would take days, sometimes weeks, to pull each student individually for playing/singing tests while the rest of the students had idle time or used the class as a study hour.  Now class time can be spent more productively, increasing the number of instructional days possible in the curriculum.  I have heard world language teachers speak of the same benefits and time gains when they have students record assessments outside of class.

Both music and world language teachers have also mentioned that students will often repeatedly re-record these assessments until they know they have it nearly perfect.  This was something that never was possible with the once and done performance assessments done in class for the teacher.  Repeated practice and self correction improves and increases the learning.  

There are a number of apps that students in our music program use on their iPads.  They can compose and write music with apps like Finale SongBookGarageband, SmartMusic, and Virtuoso Piano. They can tune their instruments at home with insTuner Lite, something my son has done with his viola.  And they can use an app like Pro Metronome to work on their timing and rhythm. 

To learn more about Minnetonka’s 1:1 iPad program, check out, which includes more videos of our students and teachers using iPads.

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