Monthly Archives: January 2017

Ableton Isn’t All That Scary

With technology finding its way into classrooms, it is also making its way into music education.  While there are some that might be afraid of integrating technology into music classrooms, there are those that are seeing the benefits from it and are working on ways to make it work and enhance students’ experiences.  One such technology is Ableton.  On the website there is a resource for teachers to get ideas on how they can incorporate this technology into their classroom.  This article shows an effort to incorporate the Ableton Push into a classroom, and highlights some benefits and drawbacks to the effort.  The purpose of using technologies like Ableton (according to the article) is to get this new generation of students interested in music and creating it.

Any teacher that is wanting to or considering using the Ableton can go to many different sources to look for ideas.  As in some of the previously mentioned articles, there are a variety of ways to get students to use them.  Using the Ableton to teach music theory is innovative, and practical.  Sometimes using technology to teach students is the easiest way, because it is what they are used to.  Showing  YouTube tutorials about how to use the technology is one of the best ways because it allows students to learn at their own pace.  Things like Piano Roll Notation are probably best taught on an individual basis, and the video I shared is just one of many that students have available to them.  In a class students can take their own time and approach on how they want to learn and apply the different sides and uses of the Ableton.

This video is just one of many tutorials available on the Ableton YouTube account that are available to answer almost any questions teachers and students may have on how to operate Ableton Push 1 and 2 and Ableton Live.  Teachers that are not comfortable with the Ableton can use these resources to get help, and learn alongside their students.  Since technology is always changing and updating, no one expects every teacher to be an expert.  Sometimes it is refreshing to learn alongside your students because it can even convince them that is is just that easy, or even open up their minds to the different possibilities.  Doing this can allow you to explore the technology (not just Ableton) with them and find things that you might not have on your own.


Teachers and Technology

Teachers are always learning, and one thing that they are still learning about is how to incorporate technology into their classrooms.  Music educators might have a hard time figuring out what is appropriate to use, and sometimes even just finding something and trying to get ideas on how to use them to teach.  Technology should be about enhancing learning, not making it easier or replacing the teacher.  One elementary music teacher, Amy Burns is an example of this.  She is a teacher, author, and clinician (see her bio for more information) that has been working to incorporate technology into music education. On her website she has available many tabs and categories for people to get ideas for their elementary music classrooms. She even has a blog with specific projects and some history on other teachers that are working to make technology in classrooms more common and less scary for everyone.

I think that most teachers, especially ones that have not had exposure to different technologies recently or in their education, are almost afraid to even consider using technology because they aren’t comfortable with it themselves and they aren’t sure how it will be received.  People like Amy Burns are paving the way for teacher like this, people like me.  When I first started thinking about becoming a music teacher I never thought that technology had a place in a music classroom because I had never used it outside of a metronome and tuner over the speakers in band.  As I got further into school I realized that maybe teachers should consider using it more and give their students a “better” experience.  Maybe better is not the right word to use, but as I said, incorporating technology into the classroom should enhance the experience and help to have students get all that they can before they walk out of your classroom.  I began to be exposed to more and more technology, and even when I started university I was skeptical as to how I could use different technologies in music, and ensembles because I was not familiar with most of them myself.

I have talked to a lot of different people and of course, got different ideas and information (some through classes) on how to use different technologies.  Technologies don’t all have to be electronics.  Last year I attended AMEA and went to different seminars on how teachers are using different things and trying new things all of the time.  There were some things that just blew me away, like having students listen to a piece of music and draw a picture of how they perceived it, or give them a piece of art and have them write a song about it.  When I saw Amy’s blog I was reminded of things like that, where teachers are doing so much more than they used to and that there are so many possibilities in what you can do.  On her blog she has an article about “Flipping the Classroom” where teachers make a lesson available outside of the classroom so that they can further it the next time the class meets.  Ideas that I have seen and perhaps modified a bit are things like having students transcribe a song that they like and teaching them how to use music-writing software like Musescore to make it neat and help them check their work, or having them use in Garage Band to create an original composition, using the existing loops (or create their own) and record a solo or small ensemble piece over it.  They could even go so far as to make a music video in something like iMovie for something that they like in order to see what it is that they get out of it instead of drawing a picture.  The possibilities are endless when you approach this idea of “Teachers and Technologies” with an open mind.