Final Paper-Draft

Just realize I didn’t post my updated outline to reflect the changes I made. I’ll make that edit by 1pm 4/23/13

 

Disclaimer: This is REALLY rough and the ending is horrible.  I’ve been sick all week and haven’t had the focus to work on it.

USING TECHNOLOGY TO TRANSFORM THE SECONDARY MUSIC CLASSROOM

In 1967, the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) sponsored a conference called The Tanglewood Symposium Project. This symposium assembled business and labor leaders, scientists, sociologists, musicians, and educators. These participants came together to discuss the role of music education and ways to improve music instruction. The Tanglewood Symposium met from July 23 to August 2, 1967 and was summarized in the Tanglewood Declaration. It states:

a. Music serves best when its integrity as an art is maintained.

b. Music of all periods, styles, forms, and cultures belongs in the curriculum. The musical repertory should be expanded to involve music of our time in its rich variety, including currently popular teenage music and avant-garde music, American folk music, and the music of other cultures.

c. Schools and colleges should provide adequate time for music programs ranging from pre-school through adult or continuing education.

d. Instruction in the arts should be a general and important part of education in the senior high school.

e. Developments in educational technology, educational television, programmed instruction, and computer-assisted instruction should be applied to music study and research.

f. Greater emphasis should be placed on helping the individual student to fulfill his needs, goals, and potentials.

g. The music education profession must contribute its skills, proficiencies, and insights toward assisting in the solution of urgent social problems as in the “inner city” or other areas with culturally deprived individuals.

h. Programs of teacher education must be expanded and improved to provide music teachers who are specially equipped to teach high school courses in the history and literature of music, courses in the humanities and related arts, as well as teachers equipped to work with the very young, with adults, with the disadvantaged, and with the emotionally disturbed (Choate)

In addition to the declaration, Tanglewood recognized that fewer than 20% of high school students studied music as an art. (Choate, 139) Among several recommendations, the symposium felt that MENC should work to engage the “non-performing” student, approximately 80% of the high school student population. More than 40 years later, these numbers haven’t changed.

Research findings show that 21% of graduating seniors in 2004 participated in music ensembles. Ensemble students were overwhelmingly white native English speakers with a higher socioeconomic status and not representative of the high school population at large. (Abril, 2011)

Typical music offerings at the secondary school level fall into two categories: performing and non-performing. Within these two categories we can break it down further. In the performing category, band, choir, and orchestra are most commonly offered.

Perhaps the most well-known performing group is the high school band. It is also the most commonly offered ensemble. (Elpus and Abril, 2011) A band is a collection of musicians who rehearse and perform music together under the direction of a conductor. Specific types of bands are available to students and among these are marching band, concert band, and jazz band. Choir is another popular and commonly offered performing ensemble. Choir is also a collection of musicians who rehearse and perform music together under the direction of a conductor. The difference being choir students use their voice to make music. There are many choir options available to students including concert choir, women’s choir, men’s choir, madrigal singers, and jazz choirs. The third ensemble offering is the high school orchestra. Orchestras generally play classical music using stringed instruments.

To accommodate students who cannot, or choose to not, participate in performing ensembles schools offer several classes that are non-performance based. More often than not, these classes are music theory, music history, and music appreciation. Sometimes these three offerings are combined into one class. More commonly only music appreciation and history are joined.

Music theory examines the language and mechanics of music. Music appreciation is learning what to listen for in music, such as specific techniques and style characteristics, and understanding the value in different forms of music. Music appreciation also includes music history. (Scholes, 2005) Music history can mean the study of any type of music or period of music, however it is usually taught with a focus on Western classical music. Popular music is often excluded. (Lipman, 1984) All three of these non-performance options still require some amount background knowledge of music on the part of the student.

Students today have a musical life that is almost totally independent of their school life. They cannot read traditional music notation, and they most likely do not play a musical instrument. (Williams, 2007) However, walk down any hallway in any high school and count the number of students with iPods blasting in their ears. These students have a great love of music. How to we engage these students who were a concern even in 1967 at the Tanglewood Symposium? The answer is technology.

Music educators are users of technology. While technology is used sometimes used for instruction in the traditional music classroom most time is spent on administrative tasks. (Taylor & Deal, 2000) These tasks include basic record keeping such as grade books and attendance. Music teachers also maintain data bases of their music libraries. Non-administrative tasks may include searching for new music to use with their ensembles online or disseminating information to students and parents. These uses, while necessary, do little to engage students. In order to engage high school students who shun traditional music classes music educators must rethink and reimagine how technology is used.

There are many critics on the topic of technology in education. Opponents argue that using computers or gadgets is not “real” learning. (Stoll, 1999) Another concern is that teachers will use technology for play and to pass time. (Healey, 1998). Cost and access for schools and students is a more practical concern. Social media brings its own set of issues with online safety and student privacy. All of these are valid concerns. However, proper instruction on technology use and safe internet use can address the concerns.

Technology allows the non-traditional music student the opportunity to create and experience music. It makes music more accessible by removing the need for traditional notation which is a barrier for the majority of high school students.  Programs such as Garage Band, MixCraft, and other looping software allow students to compose and create simply by clicking and dragging. No longer is the creation of music something that’s limited to those with a background in music. Technology makes music more democratic.

There are many ways technology can be integrated beyond looping software. YouTube not only allows educators to show educational videos and musical examples, but there also many music lessons available at no cost. Students can also share their own work and compositions for a worldwide audience. There are a lot more examples that involve social media, digital music, and creativity tools that I’ll add later but I have shingles I’m in pain and can’t think anymore.

In West Virginia, enrollment for these performing ensembles has dropped. In 2007, 14.8% of high school students were in band (7.7%), choir (6.9%), and orchestra (0.23%).  In 2011, the number is 13.23%. (WVDE, 2012)  It is imperative that the music education community finds new and innovative ways to use technology to reach the rest of the student population.

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