Popular culture and digital technologies
It's been fascinating reading this article by Susan Young on digital technologies and children's music experiences.
Young (2007) refers to Carrington (2004) who points out that pre-digital teachers tend to shy away from using technology in their music lessons. It is Carrington's opinion that traditional music curriculum is now irrelevant in today's society precisely because it does not incorporate the popular music culture and digital technology.
Young seems to suggest that the reason behind the reluctance to embrace digital technologies by specialist music teachers could be because they feel a need to demonstrate in their practice their own musical abilities. Is this reluctance to use digital technology somehow a feeling that it could be seen to be "cheating" to play digital music instead of sitting down and playing the instrument themself? Or is it instead more that they haven't received specialist training in digital technologies, and they feel flabbergasted and uncertain on how to operate the technology and therefore decide it's not for them? Or could it be a mixture of the above?
But why should the music teacher be adopting technology into their lessons? Young observed that the gap is increasingly widening between how children participate in the traditional curriculum of music at school and their everyday musical experiences and popular culture.
Young states we need to move away from an "aural experience only" to integrate "multi-media experiences" where there is more opportunity for "self-initiation, for autonomy and control".
For myself, I have taken this advice on board. And have started to re-write my own lesson plans to incorporate digital technology into my preschool piano classes. In doing so, I've realised this is very much a good thing. By pre-recording my content into video to play in my classes, it means i can be present with my students, face to face to give them directions on our musical tasks, instead of having my back to them as i sit down behind the piano. I also feel this will give my teaching more structure and the digital technologies will have the benefit of appealing to a wider range of learning styles, and particularly the visual learner. I am also taking advantage of the wonders of digital technology with my new homeschool piano course for preschoolers, with the use of a private facebook group for parents of our students and pre-recorded lessons on our membership website and utilising video-conferencing facilities for online lessons in real time. The benefits that technology allows us as educators, parents and students, is something not to be missed!