I've seen a few interesting videos recently that show in an exciting and innovative way just how technology can be used in education. Each video, such as Mitra's engaging presentation on his concept of a 'School in the Cloud', would make it seem that teachers in the traditional sense are no longer needed. This is not true. Teachers are leaders in pedagogy and any technology success in educational settings only comes from their skill in choosing and implementing it as needed. For me, any incorporation of technology in a music course must enhance the musical output and so I see technology as a tool that teachers can use, rather than an outcome in itself.
Informal pedagogies in music education and their incorporation of technology tend to set themselves up around pop music. One article by Don Leblar on the master-less studio is an example. However, I am worried that informal pedagogies that validate and promote pop music methods may lead to more pop music, rather than artistic music - yes, there is a difference, and society is becoming less and less aware of the difference. Any technology used in education needs to support the type of music being studied. Informal pedagogies can be used across all types of music education, because they are informal, but they will not necessarily lead to musical mastery and skill.
Below is my 'creative' response that outlines in a practical way my position on technology - a choral composition titled Provocation. In writing this composition, I used the following technology:
- Sibelius 7.5
- an online translator
I used Sibelius to notate my composition. As music teachers, we should be able to call ourselves 'masters' in our discipline. My training in music allowed me to compose the piece, including setting of text, voice leading, choice of key and harmonic progression, and understanding of the instrumentation used. I relied on my ear rather than the software to inform the sound. All the compositional choices, whether appreciated or not by the listener, are conscious and educated choices. For the text, I used an online translator to translate my thoughts in English to Latin. However, I have no training in Latin so have relied on the translator to do an accurate job for me. I've tried translating the Latin back to English and have found that it makes no sense. Therefore, my conclusion is that technology is only useful as a tool if you know what you're doing in the first place. I need to find a master in Latin.
The original English text basically is:
"Who writes the information? Who publishes it? Teachers are more than holders-of-knowledge. They inspire, question, encourage, are authentic, passionate, articulate and intellectual. Technology is a tool for lifelong learning but is not something that can model, question, inspire, create passion, demonstrate authenticity, think for itself or articulate what it wants to say. Technology is 0 or 1."
I chose to write this for a choir, not only because it involves text, but also because of my background in the Kodaly method and its reliance on singing, Richard Gill's 'Counterpoint' thoughts and my recent viewing of Wide Open Sky showcasing Michelle Leonard's work with her outback childrens choir. This demonstrates my priority on music-making as an acoustic, living experience, as well as my love for the classical choral tradition. For this reason, I haven't recorded Provocation. The only way to experience it (if you really want to!) is to perform it live with a few other musicians - this can be done in real-time whether in the same room or connected virtually.
If you can't see the file below, you can download it here.
Reflections/news on music, piano and music teaching, and anything else that pops up.