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Bringing Technology into your Music Classroom

The advance of technology has gotten a bit of a bad rap lately with the killer robot movies and technology-is-going-to-take-your-jobs mentality. I’m not saying those aren’t legitimate fears (it’s already becoming all too real) - but there are ways to leverage what’s available and appealing to the younger generation of today without giving up any of what you do as a teacher. A teacher hits the nail on the head in this article about a school that integrated iPads into their classrooms:

'"It allows us to extend the classroom beyond these four walls," said Larry Reiff, an English teacher at Roslyn who now posts all his course materials online. More practically, he said, it also takes away students’ excuses for not doing their work. "It moves beyond the traditional scope of homework: go home, read, write," he said, referring to video and multimedia elements. "I’m expecting a higher rate of homework completion."'

Let’s face it: kids love technology. It’s interactive, allows them to be more independent, and moves quickly enough to capture and hold their attention. No doubt your young students are growing up surrounded by the ever-evolving technology of the time - but is your studio keeping up? Traditional piano-teaching is a string of books, books, and.… more books. It’s a constant cycle of “Here’s a piece: learn it, check it off, and repeat”. It’s no wonder some students lose motivation and interest.

You could make this year easy, organized, and more dynamic for both you and your students by introducing technology into your lessons. It could be as simple as using YouTube backing tracks in-lesson, or as integrated (and eco-friendly) as the switch to a paperless music classroom.

Here are some ways technology can help your music teaching business:

1. Have you considered using a practice tool? Know what your students are doing outside of lessons and give them help when they need it! There are practice apps like Better Practice that help you take lessons beyond one day a week. All you have to do is open up the app, and see immediately who’s practiced and if anyone’s sent you any messages. Students can send you questions right from their assignments, so any roadblock questions that they come across can be resolved before the next lesson. You can also type in assignment notes and attach sheet music, introducing a possibility for a paperless (or less-paper) classroom. Also, Better Practice uses advanced pedagogy strategies to enable your students to be active learners which improves their practice.

2. Capture their attention. Students learn best what they’re interested in. Take advantage of all of the videos and recordings that are so widely available in this age. Play a recording of or show them a video of a professional performing the piece they’re about to learn. It’s a quick and engaging way to give them a bird’s-eye-view of the piece (planning) and show the possibilities of it played well (setting standards). You can also attach it directly to their assignment on a practice app so they have a reference point while learning.

3. Store materials and notes without the clutter. We’re all familiar with the sight of a musician’s desk - sheet music strewn everywhere, covered with hand written notes, messily erased and rewritten. But a music teacher’s desk - that’s a whole other story. On top of the usual mess, there’s lesson plans on lesson plans, sheet music and notes, reminders of who is doing what…
But what if you could eliminate that? There’s dozens of great sheet music apps out there, not to mention apps that store your assignments and assignment notes for every student (like Better Practice!). So if you can’t remember what John was working on a month ago, just look it up - and everything’s there: your lesson plans, completed assignments, your notes, sheet music. And, on the flip side, students can’t lose or forget their sheet music anymore, either. Making organization easier helps you focus more of your energy toward other (more important) things like teaching.

Better Practice was made to make teaching easier - when you can lesson plan, communicate, and assess on a single screen, you have more time left for the fun stuff!