The A in STEAM: Music on the Educational Stage
Music is like breathing, like our very heartbeat – we can’t do without it. It’s a universal language that crosses cultural barriers and brings people to a closer understanding.
It’s a challenge for a music teacher to inspire and motivate students and engage them musically. And in today’s technological environment, teachers must teach music expression in conjunction with 21st century skills like critical thinking and problem solving, so students will succeed in the labor market.
There is a way to accomplish these two goals. It can be done through technology, and in the case of music tuition that means electronic music.
Creating electronic music
Electronic music making is a great way for school children to express themselves using technology, which they are familiar with and which most of them love.
Creating music electronically is inspiring to young generations. Children love to get in front of a computer and tinker away – it’s much more exciting than learning to play an instrument: they can make their own music! Challenging but also rewarding.
Students can start out by remixing some of their favorite music and move on to composing their own pieces.
Students who get into electronic music usually work tirelessly on their music and are eager to share their creations. Creating music becomes an all-absorbing activity that they passionately share with anyone who will give them the time of day.
The sharing of music and ensuing discussions naturally facilitates collaborative learning, which has many benefits.
In the process of sharing and discussing each other’s work, students develop a deeper understanding of the subject and they have to use critical thinking skills to solve problems. They also develop confidence in their own work and in expressing and defending their ideas.
While all of this is going on, they’re building relationships that will support them in their school years and often beyond.
There are many resources available to teachers that teach the basics of music and its composition and recording. And many of them are free, so teachers don’t need to apply for funding.
The digital audio company Ableton is an invaluable resource for individuals who want to learn music and schools that want to teach music.
In one initiative, the company provided old refurbished DJ equipment (Push 1 units) to schools that had applied for them. Secondary school, Alec Reed Academy in Northolt received 15 of the units.
Traditionally, the music curriculum has been more classically based.The thing is, most children are not exposed to classical music and very few learn to play musical instruments.
It’s much more effective and meaningful to teach them about the music that they are already listening to. With the new DJ equipment, the students can now actually get hands-on experience about how electronic music is created.
Today’s music technology offers programs that are simple and easy to use. On the Ableton website, anyone can access lessons right from their browser to learn the basics of music making.
Some teachers use the Soundtrap online recording studio. With this tool, students can continue working on their projects from their mobile devices when they leave the class.
Soundtrap works on Mac, Windows, iPad, iPhone, Android phones and tablets, Linux and Chromebooks. All music projects are stored in the cloud.
The thing about creating your own music is this: you want it perfect, the way you hear it in your head, so you keep practicing, you keep rehearsing with your friends.
Exposing students to the possibility that they can create their own music inspires them and keeps them engaged.