As the first blog post that provides a look into how technology is being used in a classroom at St Andrew’s College, it seems appropriate to start with a department that has been utilising the power of computers in teaching and learning for a long time. This is, of course, the Music Department.
Sitting down and talking with Head of Department Mr Duncan Ferguson it is apparent that technology permeates all aspects of music composition these days. He notes:
Mixcraft (composition software) reinforces traditional teaching of the elements of music by giving students a visual representation of abstract ideas such as ‘texture’ and they can literally see the structure of a piece of music by looking at the timeline in the software.
This works particularly well for junior students who have perhaps not been previously exposed to musical theory. With more advanced senior students, the technology enables them to create quite outstanding work. An example of this is a requirement for a Level 3 (Yr13) Standard, simply called Making Music (3.4).
This standard requires students to take inspiration from an area of the Visual Arts and compose an accompanying musical piece. An example of student work comes from Harry Guy who focused on this task:
- Compose an original piece of music inspired by a visual art work, which could be a painting, drawing, sculpture, photograph, or graphic art.
Check out Harry’s video talking through the connection between Michelangelo’s Last Judgement and his own composition:
Unsurprisingly, Harry’s interest and skills in composition started a number of years ago, aided by Mr Ferguson’s after school classes on how to use Apple’s Logic Pro software to compose music in 2011-2012. By 2013 Harry was capable of creating this level of work by himself. Mr Ferguson noted:
At one stage I was unavailable in the classroom to help with a question directly that one of the students had and rather than look in the Help section of the software, they mostly go straight to YouTube to watch online tutorials on how to accomplish their aims.
This is a classic example of students being able to instantly access expertise and knowledge when they have the tools available to them. It is quite common for many senior students at St Andrew’s College to bring their own device to class and consequently they are in a position to access these resources in class. With the introduction of a formal 1:1 programme with the Yr9 2014 cohort, more students will be able to do the same.
A future blog post will look at how junior students use software tools to develop their understanding of musical concepts such as pitch and rhythm.