Music Education for 21st Century Learners

There’s a lot of talk being banded around at the moment about the future of Music education. It scares me sometimes and I often have to focus on the ‘now’, rather than the ‘what could be’.

It does, however, get me thinking about how the subject may change and has changed already, even over the past 15- 20 years or so. The only experience I can draw upon is my own, which I have to say, is probably the reason I’m a teacher today. My school encouraged, engaged and enabled the musician inside of me to emerge due to the level and quality of teaching there. But not everyone has that opportunity or that experience. (I’m biased slightly because I am a musician; my peers may have thought differently.)

My school has a dedicated Mac Suite; a room of 21 lovely, shiny Apple Macs equipped with GarageBand, Logic Pro and Sibelius. I’m lucky to have such a facility and even better, the students are timetabled in there every other lesson. I genuinely believe that engagement in my students has increased due to the the use of Macs and music tech in their learning experience. The majority of music is produced digitally these days and it’s pretty easy to knock a dance tune together in half an hour, using loops. This is engaging for students – they find that they can produce good results with quite a bit of ease. Then there’s a stretch and challenge aspect, in which certain students then go on to record their own parts in the piece, or even start from scratch, depending on their level of ability.

I know for a fact that some students who have had their lessons in the Mac Suite have then gone home to produce music on their family computer and spend time exploring the program’s capabilities (namely GarageBand, it’s free = wow!). I’m not sure I would hear the same stories if we didn’t have these lessons. I’m not saying that my own lessons aren’t engaging and inspiring (ha ha!) but there seems to be a depth of engagement when technology is put in front of them. They are being asked to learn and produce results using the same kind of technology they enjoy and engage with every day (at home/social networking/home work/ video games etc.). I think when I was at school, the equivalent was the maths times tables being sung to popular songs of the time on CDs………..there’s probably an app for that now.

I probably have more to say about this, but I’ve since been to a meeting and lost my train of thought. Watch this space and comment if you want.


About timshel82

Living in Bristol, northern accent.
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