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It’s easy to write off music as a less important subject when compared to “more valuable” core subjects like English or Mathematics. This perspective is often borne out by experience; when funding gets tight, one of the first things to be affected in an educational system are the music programs, along with those of the other arts.
But the truth is, music is a critical part of a well-rounded education. It’s one of the key ways that students can learn more about themselves and discover how to function within their culture and society. Learning how to play an instrument, understand music theory, and operate under the rigors and pressures of a live performance—whether solo or with other musicians by your side—are all extremely valuable skills for students to learn.
Music education isn’t just an old-school, backwater subject slowly being dragged into the dustbin of history, either. It’s a lively, vibrant part of any school or educational facility—that is, when it’s allowed to be. A modern, well-equipped musical classroom no longer consists of a teacher plunking away on an old piano. Present-day music education, just as with all other aspects of learning, has evolved—and in many ways, improved—through the abundance of new technology that is becoming steadily more available.
This technology has served to change the landscape of music education for the better, equipping teachers and students alike in the process.
Below is a sneak peek at just a handful of the ways that the world of musical education is being dramatically impacted by the technology that is already available. And remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as technology is likely to become only more sophisticated and applicable in the years to come.
Utilizing the iPad
One of the best ways that tech has been busily transforming the music classroom has been through the iPad. Among a plethora of different uses, iPads literally give students access to a practically infinite stream of sheet music, music theory, and even music history. It can also be used to tune instruments, play pre-recorded music, and record/edit personal performances and creations.
On the teacher’s side of things, along with all of the same perks as the students, educators can also streamline things like delivering, grading, and storing assignments, as well as maintaining communication with students remotely when either party is not present in the classroom.
Another excellent application of modern tech in the musical classroom comes in the form of SoundCloud. The app is a wonderful way for teachers to upload audio recordings of their students for them to review or show off to their friends and family. This can also help more apprehensive students who may not wish to review a video of themselves playing, as it focuses purely on the audible part of their performance.
Other Apps in the Classroom
In addition to iPads and other tech gadgets, the use of various collaboration apps has made life much easier than back in the day, when everyone needed to be present in order to collaborate on projects or teach lessons.
For example, apps like Evernote and Google Keep allow teams to share thoughts and other notes; Trello and Doodle can facilitate the organization of assignments, recordings, and pieces of music; Slack, Asana, and Google Hangouts allow for communication from a distance; and the list goes on.
Finally, the availability of solid online education options for musical students is creating opportunities never dreamed of in the past. Many schools finally understand the need for music education, and are developing the means of teaching it without having to do so in person. Not only do online music classes allow for more students to experience music in different ways, it opens doors that otherwise might have remained perpetually closed.
Where the Future of Music Education Is Headed
From Beethoven to the Beatles and right on into the modern era, there can be no doubt that music has had a huge influence on society over the centuries. However, even though music itself has had a clearly profound impact throughout history, music education has had its struggles. But the good news is that this academic field that has come under so much pressure in recent years has shown a burst of new life, largely thanks to the impact of technology. Tech advancements have allowed the educational system to reinvent the entire way we go about teaching music to students.
With integrated teaching concepts like STE(A)M growing in popularity, music education should have no problem fitting snugly into the picture as part of a greater, comprehensive learning experience. From training one’s creative muscles to helping to develop arithmetic skills or teaching the importance of practice, music can—and should—continue to play an integral part in the wider academic world.
Music Education: Relevant and Rewarding
When the doubters inevitably give music students a hard time about having chosen their particular educational path, they should remember to point out that a degree in music is so much more than simply trying to be the one artist that “hits it big.” There are literally dozens of different career choices within their field, providing good-to-great salaries and a chance for those who are true musicians at heart to thrive within a field that they love. Add that onto the lifelong benefits that come with learning music from a young age, and there’s little doubt that music will be able to maintain its place in the modern, tech-dominated world that we all live in.