Importance of being computer savvy? - Should teachers have more computer knowl

Talk to others about making and writing music on a computer

Postby keithmusic » Thu Jan 31, 2008 4:00 pm

In today's changing technology age, what is everyone's take on being able to guide students to use computer resources (notation software, download sites, recording software) if the opportunity arises? I think sometimes it can spark a student to be given opportunities to compose and take technology for a test drive while making a deal with the student to balance out their learning experience with good piano practice also.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Fri Feb 01, 2008 8:40 am

Teachers have become much more knowledgeable about computers, software and technology generally in piano teaching than they were, say, ten years ago. One of the reasons we started doing software reviews (link in upper right hand corner of this or any other PEP page) of piano and music software was the fact that there was a lot more good software out there than teachers were aware of or could use effectively.

I think that situation has changed somewhat, though, if you read the many threads in these Forums devoted to computer-aided learning issues, you'll find many expressions by teachers of a desire to know more about the technology. It is developing so fast that even those of us with "techie" bents have a hard time keeping up with all of it. I have written many times all over the site about tech issues that I feel piano teachers and students ought to know something about.

For what it's worth, I think one of the most attractive technologies out there for aiding piano learning (aside from multimedia generally) is Virtual Private Networking (VPN), applied to distance learning. This technology, support for which is built into both Windows XP and Vista, allows the teacher to easily set up an encrypted network through the Internet that allows students to access her studio learning lab computer and software at any time, day or night. The hardware and software requirements are small. If you have a DSL Internet connection, that's enough speed. VPN's are well-established in business, but, as far as I can tell, haven't been implemented by many piano teachers.




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Postby Tarnia » Fri Feb 01, 2008 10:49 am

My teacher, who I love dearly, would be the first to admit she knows nothing about computers. I don't think she even owns one-and I know she doesn't understand email/the Internet. She would be in her late sixties, possibly early 70s I believe so she is older.

I think this is somewhat limiting however. I took a 'sight singing' course as an arts credit (I was doing my BSc) in university to improve my aural skills-which are one of, if not my very, weakest points. In that class, we were introduced to a website that will, for example, play a selection of intervals randomly. The student has to identify them, and gets told if they are right/wrong. I thought this was great! Though obviously not a replacement for practice at the actual instrument, it was a way for me to easily practice my intervals on my own. I have found it very useful and through my teacher passed it on to other students of hers. Similarly, another student of hers does a lot of composing-he's quite good. He uses various software to aid with this. However, he would have had to discover it and teach himself on his own. How much more efficient this could be with a teacher that was tech-savvy and could guide all of us in the appropriate directions. The flip side of that is clearly it has not prevented us from using technology ourselves.
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Postby Tranquillo » Sun Feb 03, 2008 1:49 am

I go to a technology highschool myself. Some software such as: notepad finale and Garage Band allow for composition.
It happens with a class. Students would have one laptop each and would work on composition. This is an excellent opportunity to teach composition and indeed very innovative.
Some teachers get students to visit a certain website for homework and to read certain pages.
Technology is a great tool for the use in a private studio. It seems to be small now but I guess in its time it will grow.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:29 pm

Becibu wrote:Technology is a great tool for the use in a private studio. It seems to be small now but I guess in its time it will grow.

Interesting observation, Becibu. While I wouldn't be able to say a majority of teachers in the U.S. use computers in teaching with any certainty, I would hazard an educated guess that a sizable minority do now. Most major teacher's journals and magazines here have regular sections devoted to technology for the teaching studio. I've written several times for them, focusing on PEP and the Internet.
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Postby Tranquillo » Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:21 am

Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:
Becibu wrote:Technology is a great tool for the use in a private studio. It seems to be small now but I guess in its time it will grow.

Interesting observation, Becibu. While I wouldn't be able to say a majority of teachers in the U.S. use computers in teaching with any certainty, I would hazard an educated guess that a sizable minority do now. Most major teacher's journals and magazines here have regular sections devoted to technology for the teaching studio. I've written several times for them, focusing on PEP and the Internet.

I think a small amount really do use technology with teaching. In my highschool I think it works effectively. Music is taught with the use of using differing programs tailoring composition and allowing students to experiement with differing tone colours and listening to their compostions through various textures.
I guess teachers today and the technology scene is something new. Websites like this allow for the use of technology to be extended. Magazines like the one you mention do promote the use technology. I guess to make it grow we all have our part. I as a student like to use finale to compose ... Also, sometimes the teachers are new to technology - many of the times in school I do assist other teachers in understanding the program and computer. I guess its a win win situation.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Tue Mar 17, 2009 8:23 am

Becibu wrote:I guess to make it grow we all have our part. .. I guess its a win win situation.

While the use of technology in the teaching studio is growing rapidly, I sense a certain degree of retrenchment going on among some teachers who have used it unsuccessfully or poorly. It's not that technology isn't a useful tool; it's that it has to be used thoughtfully and with an eye toward some specific result. In these days of economic recession, use of technology can make a studio more efficient and provide more benefits to students at very modest cost.

Aside from the teacher using technology in her own studio, one thing I haven't seen teachers do much of is to discuss the use of software in vehicles like studio newsletters. Having the student be able to go home and reinforce lessons using the same software he is using at the studio or supplement his studio learning with additional software (music theory for example) makes a great deal of sense. The problem is that most people don't know what to buy or where to get it. Although I'm pretty sure that there must be teachers out there who review and/or provide recommendations for software for students, I couldn't name anyone I know specifically who has done, or is doing, that. I suspect that only a fraction of any teacher's students would take advantage of such recommendations, those who do would likely benefit. :)
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:11 am

My lessons are an hour long, and there is not enough time to get done what needs to be done. Every minute is spent at the instrument. I use the computer to learn additional elements of theory such as in this excellent resource:
Teoria and I also use the Internet to learn extra things in music history, about genres including seeing audio and audio visual examples. For example, this is invaluable in understanding the history and some of the nature of Gavottes:
Gavotte - dance

What kinds of things can be learned during lesson time at the computer? Is it not possible to forego these in order to not lose the little time we already have?




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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:33 am

pianissimo wrote:My lessons are an hour long, and there is not enough time to get done what needs to be done. Every minute is spent at the instrument.

What kinds of things can be learned during lesson time at the computer? Is it not possible to forego these in order to not lose the little time we already have?

You are entitled to this view and/or concern, but it seems to infringe on the right of the teacher to make the decisions she feels are best for her students. Is it not possible that the teacher knows best how lesson time should be used? For example, she might choose to use computer tools extensively with beginning students, to a lesser extent with intermediate students and not at all with advanced students. The thousands of teachers who use computer tools to aid learning certainly know their students better than you or I. Of course, computer tools can be (and often are) used at the studio outside the normal lesson time as a means of leveraging the student's time in the lesson proper.

You seem to have missed the main point of my post as well: that teachers can provide their students a service by recommending software that students can use on their own time that the teacher feels would be most useful and compatible with lessons in the studio.




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Postby 112-1182392787 » Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:02 pm

I have not expressed a view, I asked a question. I am trying to imagine what kinds of things a computer program might do in a lesson. What kinds of things are learned via a program? The only thing that I know are the lessons that I myself have experienced, and that my child had as a child.
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:45 pm

pianissimo wrote:What kinds of things can be learned during lesson time at the computer? Is it not possible to forego these in order to not lose the little time we already have?

Your comments reproduced above seemed to express a view, even if phrased as a question. If I have somehow misunderstood where you were going or what you were saying, or if you're backing away from that view now, then I apologize for being confused by the nature of your questions.

Given the large number of times that computer software and what it does has been discussed in the threads of the Forums, I don't think that it's a good investment of time to recap all the possible uses of software in the studio and at home here. Instead, let me point you to our software reviews, which you can access from our main software reviews page. For each of the approximately 60 programs covered there, all reviewed by piano teachers or other knowledgeable parties, you'll find a brief summary of what the program does and how it does it. To get the full description, follow the links there to the full reviews themselves. You'll find descriptions in the full reviews of how the program works, what it does and how well it does it. Also in the full reviews are photos of packaging or screen shots of the running program that provide further information. I would think these would provide the best and most detailed answers to your "questions".




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Postby 112-1182392787 » Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:19 pm

Thank you for the link. I've examined the programs and can see how they might provide one way of remembering and learning certain things. I can see how they could be used at home as part of practicing.



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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Tue Mar 24, 2009 5:29 pm

keithmusic wrote:I think sometimes it can spark a student to be given opportunities to compose and take technology for a test drive while making a deal with the student to balance out their learning experience with good piano practice also.

This comment by a piano teacher, which started this thread, makes the most important point: that technology offers opportunities for the student to be exposed to a broader set of musical activity. This may help the student be more motivated to practice the piano.
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Sat Mar 28, 2009 6:59 am

Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor wrote:
keithmusic wrote:I think sometimes it can spark a student to be given opportunities to compose and take technology for a test drive while making a deal with the student to balance out their learning experience with good piano practice also.

This comment by a piano teacher, which started this thread, makes the most important point: that technology offers opportunities for the student to be exposed to a broader set of musical activity. This may help the student be more motivated to practice the piano.

I would read it as saying technology is an aid in learning some of the skills of musicianship. With software, a student is able to hear what a composition will sound like and even choose the instruments. One can learn to compose using pencil and paper but it is a different experience - and certainly more difficult. Does the modern child have the patience to go the pencil and paper route?

I wonder whether any teachers use technology creatively in their teaching. Can they use software to produce teaching aids that in the old days would have been labourious or impossible?
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Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Sat Mar 28, 2009 9:46 am

pianissimo wrote:
keithmusic wrote:I think sometimes it can spark a student to be given opportunities to compose and take technology for a test drive while making a deal with the student to balance out their learning experience with good piano practice also.

I would read it as saying technology is an aid in learning some of the skills of musicianship. With software, a student is able to hear what a composition will sound like and even choose the instruments. One can learn to compose using pencil and paper but it is a different experience - and certainly more difficult. Does the modern child have the patience to go the pencil and paper route?

I wonder whether any teachers use technology creatively in their teaching. Can they use software to produce teaching aids that in the old days would have been labourious or impossible?

The quote doesn't really say anything about learning skills, though I would agree that that is one thing software can do. Your position here seems different from that you took earlier, "What kinds of things can be learned during lesson time at the computer? Is it not possible to forego these in order to not lose the little time we already have?", but perhaps you have changed your view.

I suppose that the way one might do composition has a lot to do with what one is used to. Someone schooled and used to composing on paper might prefer that mode. Someone who learned to use composing software early on would probably not be willing to do it any other way, given its substantial advantages (easy changes, ability to print clean legible copy, capability actually to hear how something will sound as you compose it, greater speed of composition, ability to share one's work with others easily, just to name a few).

In these Forums, teachers have repeatedly (at least twenty times) talked about examples of how they have used computer software to produce learning aids, compose, transcribe music, scan music and do a wide range of other, more business-related, parts of running a teaching studio. Just about all of these would have been "labourious or impossible" without the computer. Many of these same teachers market the fruits of their creativity to others, usually by computer! In all the posts that have appeared on this Board on this subject, I've never heard any teacher say that he/she would prefer to go back to pre-PC days, even though a few might find the technology challenging to learn. Indeed, without the computer none of us would be able to exchange information as we do every day here.

I might add that the personal computer has fundamentally changed the nature of lots of things we do, precisely because it is available to just about anybody. I have been using computers since the 1960's days of punched card input, time-sharing, and programming in Fortran IV and Cobol. I can sure tell you that the PC has changed dramatically the way computing is done, even for those of us who had access to mainframe computers.

To be honest, the question is really not one of whether the personal computer is useful to the teacher and her students. Rather, it is about how much time and effort the teacher is willing to invest in learning all the things it can do for her and how much creativity she can bring to bear in using computer tools to maximum advantage. In the end, human creativity is the key to both art and technology - as it always has been. :cool:




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