Combining technology with learning in subjects like math, science and languages seems natural, but can technology also improve music lessons?
The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, technology has already had a noticeable impact on music education around the world.
Let’s explore some of the places where music and technology intersect, and how these innovations are making music lessons more accessible than ever.
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There’s an App for That!
Teachers who want to supplement their curriculum and students who are excited about going beyond their lessons will find plenty of options at their favorite app store. Search for music learning apps or games to reveal thousands of possibilities that range from reading music and learning rhythm to music theory. If you want to know more about playing a particular instrument, you’ll find apps for that too.
Find Sheet Music Online
Students who are excited to learn a particular tune will love the ability to find sheet music online. Websites such as Musicnotes.com, Ultimate-Guitar.com, SheetMusicDirect.com and Musescore.com feature a broad array of free and paid sheet music with a variety of arrangements so that you can find sheet music parts for your specific instrument.
Students Can Attend Online Lessons
In recent decades, it’s become possible and even common to earn a college degree online. Distance learning via the Internet also is becoming more common for music students. Online music lessons may have several advantages such as:
-No commute involved
-Time saved means extra practice
-The ability to record audio and video lesson files to review
-Fewer missed lessons
-The ability to continue a student/teacher relationship even when one party moves
Modern parents spend an inordinate amount of time chauffeuring their children from one activity to another. In terms of time, gas and wear-and-tear on the vehicle, this represents an enormous expense. Plus, it’s also worthwhile to consider the aggravation of sitting in traffic and the potential for adverse weather to lead to canceled lessons.
Online music classes do away with all of these problems. Mom and Dad no longer have to drive their children to lessons, which saves lots of time and money. This also translates to fewer missed lessons because of bad weather or lessons that start late because of traffic.
When it isn’t necessary to drive to lessons, then the time that would have been spent in the car is freed up for other things, like extra practice. Even if the student saves just 20 minutes each week by not having to commute, this translates to 17 hours more practice time over the course of a year.
It’s generally possible to record audio and video of online music lessons as well. This creates a solid, reviewable record of the student’s performance. Reviewing prior sessions can reveal just how far the student has come from earlier weeks. It also may help the student to recall helpful hints and tips from the instructor between lessons.
Perhaps one of the most valuable advantages of taking online music lessons is that students feel far more comfortable and confident when they are at home. This makes it possible for them to really engage with the process in a more meaningful and focused way.
It also is worth noting that taking music lessons online makes it possible to learn absolutely anywhere and under any circumstances. Even if a move threatens to part a beloved instructor and pupil, the break doesn’t have to be permanent. Continuing with lessons is always possible via Skype and other mediums. This also means that students and teachers no longer have to live in the same town, county, state or even country. Thanks to technology, it’s possible for students and renowned instructors to make connections that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
YouTube Provides a Platform
Statistics suggest that YouTube gets nearly two billion visitors every month. Many of those visitors are searching for something music-related.
While many of those searches are simply from people who want to hear a favorite song or watch a music video, others are looking for tips and pointers.
In fact, there are many online music lesson videos stored on YouTube. Accessing them is a breeze, and it’s a free or inexpensive way to gain exposure to new techniques.
While it can seem like YouTube videos provide a fairly comprehensive musical education, it’s critical that no student relies on this resource alone for their lessons. Not everyone who posts videos on YouTube is genuinely an expert or even proficient, and it’s easy to pick up on poor techniques, especially for students who are novices.
Instead, it’s wise to search for YouTube videos that are posted by respected experts in the field or to rely on the recommendations of your trusted instructor. This will prevent you from picking up any bad habits along the way.
Keep in mind that YouTube also can be a valuable means for vocalists and musicians to engage with the community and attract an audience. YouTube videos can serve as audition pieces or bring a talent to the attention of instructors and agents.
Sharing Student Progress with Family and Friends
It’s usually not possible for parents, friends and family to sit in on music lessons, but technology is starting to change that. Services like Berlin, Germany-based SoundCloud provide the means to upload recordings to the digital cloud. These recordings can then be accessed by anyone who has the appropriate password.
The result is that a student’s performance in their lessons can be recorded, uploaded and accessed by any authorized person. Not only does this provide family members with a chance to listen and enjoy the student’s work but also it provides a helpful record of past performances, making it easier to gauge progress.
SoundCloud also may appeal to students who are shy at the idea of making a recording that includes video. An audio recording may seem far less intimidating.
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An increasing number of music teachers are embracing the online seminar, which is commonly called a webinar. These make it possible for a teacher and students in disparate locations to come together for instruction. Effectively a group lesson, webinars are a low-cost alternative to one-on-one private lessons that may be prohibitively expensive for some students.
Bringing Tablets Into the Classroom
Tablets are basically inexpensive, super-portable computers, and they are revolutionizing music instruction in many ways. Teachers and students are using tablets to study music history and theory and to find rare sheet music. Various apps and tools that can be downloaded onto tablets can help instructors to introduce pre-recorded music, assist with instrument tuning or even fulfill the role of a metronome. Similarly, tablets may record the session so that students and teachers can quickly and easily review progress.
Fostering Young Composers
Sibelius is a well-known notation software that’s been helping instructors to teach composition for several years now. Also available is NotateMe, an app for iOS and Android that transforms handwritten staff notations into digital entries. This means that it’s possible to scan a score and then edit and share it in the digital world.
Using apps to learn more about composition may have several advantages. These include:
-Kids may prefer playing with an app to writing on paper
-Schools and studios may not have immediate access to all needed instruments
-Additional pitches and timbres are available in apps
-Apps can quickly and easily record and play back the student’s work
Putting the Finishing Touches on Performances
As recitals draw near, nerves tend to run high. There may not be time for additional lessons or rehearsals, but an app like SmartMusic makes it possible for a teacher to observe a student’s practice whenever it is convenient. This particular app has capabilities like assignment creation from a music library. When students complete the assignment, the app provides immediate feedback on their performance.
Accordingly, teachers can provide feedback on the student’s practice, allowing them to make slight adjustments and alterations that will result in an unforgettable performance.
Here at Prodigies Music, we believe that sparking a child’s creativity is vital to their success in school and beyond. Rather than sticking to the traditional method of delivering music lessons, we’re always looking for new and innovative practices that will engage students like never before.
Where will technology take music lessons in the future? It’s impossible to say for certain. However, technology is already having a positive impact in that it makes lessons available to students in distant places, no matter their skill level or financial background. What also is certain is that technology will continue to keep music alive for generations of students.