This semester I’m working as a research assistant to Alex Ruthmann at NYU. The job includes helping him with a new joint music education and music technology class, Designing Technologies & Experiences for Music Making, Learning and Engagement. Here’s the bibliography. The central class project is to create a music education technology experience — a lesson plan or classroom activity, a piece of software or hardware, or something outside those categories.
Everyone in the class has to maintain a blog documenting their design process. (Wouldn’t it be cool if every teacher of everything had their students blog about their class work?) My music education experience design is going to be my thesis, which I’m already blogging about. So instead I’ll use these posts for some public-facing note taking.
Most existing technology for music teaching is, shall we say, not good. Software designed for the pros is too difficult for novices. Even Garageband is too complex. The stuff for beginners is too often boring drills with a thin layer of game on top, exercises lacking musical context and any intrinsic motivation for playing. It’s rare for music ed tech to be tested in the classroom. The complexity of the classroom environment does make it hard to do conclusive tests that control for all the confounding factors, but anecdotal and qualitative observations are better than nothing.
All teachers are really experience designers — the experience is whatever takes place in the classroom. And experience designers are de facto teachers, whether they realize it or not. Interface metaphors, presets and defaults are all lessons that need to be learned. ....
Music participation plays a huge role in education. It prepares students for higher learning by stimulating every facet of their mental and physical faculties. Music teachers direct students to listen and hear in new ways.
"One area that I don’t have time to explore very often during the school year is creating music on my iPad. It seems with all the day to day activities of teaching that I totally loose touch with musical explorations and composing. I’ve been taking more time lately to do this and I am floored at what I can do with an iPad and a few apps. I am not going to give you a history lesson here but I will say that at one time in my career I dreamed of creating a wonderful MIDI lab outfitted with computers, keyboards, speakers and mixers for my students to use. That dream never happened because of the crazy cost involved. My dream has been reshaped. Here is what I’ve found…."
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