What is a MOOC? If you've missed the movement, it's a Massive Open Online Course, and I've been studying one these last few weeks. We've been set a few questions this week and I'm finding it tricky to tie them all together, so here they are as individual points.
- In the MOOC, we were introduced to the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) or sequencer, which apparently were different things but now are basically the same. Notation software and its capabilities were also discussed. I have a lot of experience with Sibelius (notation software), Garageband, and have also used Soundation in schools that didn't have suitable software available. These are such fabulous tools, especially Sibelius, which is my number one in music technology.
- We've also had a few videos throughout the MOOC trying to convince us that DJ-producers have "an awful lot of sophisticated musical skills", which they do. 0've chatted with a few colleagues about this who have pointed out that DJ-producers 'produce' music from pre-existing music and my limited experience with DJ-producers is that they are trained at places like artschools or DIY rather than conservatoriums. Regardless of the debate, I am considering buying a Launchpad just to see what it's all about - my kids also like the look of it. See the video below for an example.
- In this week's MOOC, we were also introduced to David Price and his insight into the future of education. I was lucky to hear him back in 2007 when my old employer, the Music Council of Australia, began to work with him and his 'Musical Futures' project is now widely used in Australia. In the MOOC video, Price points out that open learning, where amateurs and experts share knowledge via online environments such as YouTube, is not a future but is something that has already been. I know I've relied on expert/amateur online advice, most recently when I had to remove over 20 'Molly Bolts' from our lounge room walls. I didn't even know the plugs I needed to remove were called molly bolts until I found the videos! I've seen open learning happen a lot in my own studio, where students bring in something they've learnt via YouTube videos, and I also encourage them to share their own performances online. Other open learning happens via places such as this MOOC's Coursera, where top universities can be accessed for free by anyone who has a computer and access to the internet. Some examples of open learning in music include:
- how to play a basic samba
- too many tutorials of how to play on the guitar 'Love Yourself' by Justin Beiber
- how to conduct a choir
And the page I will need when I buy a Launchpad...
In this exciting environment, one of our main jobs now as teachers is to help students develop quality filtering skills so that they recognise a good course or video when they see one.
- My final point for this post concerns PBL or project-based learning. This type of learning already exists in music as students often undertake large-scale projects when composing, performing, or researching. These are real-life musical activities that require individuality and initiative to succeed. Musicians also work together and learn from each other so are used to solving problems from several different angles. However, the online environment offers so many option for worldwide collaboration across classrooms and technology allows for efficiency in completing projects. Musical projects such as the Virtual Choir demonstrate just how successful the blend of these can be and are leading examples for other subject areas.
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.