As my final posting for the MOOC entitled The Place of Music in 21st Century Education by Dr James Humberstone I wanted to reflect on how possibly I can move forward in my own teaching practice.

Whereas the last four posts have been challenging and thought provoking I need to find a path forward. Despite the inspirational use of technology in the schools presented, I keep coming back to the need for sound pedagogy. And yes, the Orff approach is an amazing way to involve students in the music making process but where does the use of technology fit? Is it even a question of making it fit?

Blogger and assistant principal Jose Picardo has written an excellent article on how ‘Not all screen time is equal time‘ when looking at technology with children. Most of the research or keynotes at international conferences point out the negatives of screen time. But this article honestly strikes at the core of the issue which is the intent and/or use of technology in the process of learning. Arguably, good pedagogy should also allow meaningful technology integration.

In Week 2 I included a video of Richard Gill teaching a primary music class and every step involved the students thinking creatively. Upon reflection, music technology would not ‘fit into’ such a lesson but could be integral to continuing such a lesson. Lois Choksy, author of The Kodaly Method, challenged me further by emphasising that “…techniques do not stir the imagination; sofa and ti-ta’s never set anybody on fire; pedagogical processes do not give excitement and purpose to life. Ideas do.” (Chosky, L The Kodaly Method II, Folksongs to Mastery. Prentice Hall Inc, New Jersey 1999. Preface).

So maybe the way forward is to build on the practices and pedagogy of good practitioners while imaginatively integrating technology?

Week 2 with Richard Gill, Dr Lucy Green & Flume.

My main take-away from the five weeks of this MOOC was that a blended approach can be powerful. Armed with these experiences I want to address three points over the coming year:

1. Music Technology: What do I need to adapt or adopt?
2. Education: What skills do I need?
3. Pedagogy: How can I bring the connections to the classroom?

Point 1 will address where my teaching began and what I need to do now. The video below was one of my first demonstrations of music technology and so much as changed since then!

Whereas the technology is exciting, the teaching needs more scaffolding. It is also too teacher driven and there is not enough experimentation or play-time for the students. As of finishing this MOOC I have the opportunity to create and pioneer my own curriculum and learning experiences with music technology in Vienna.

Doug Goodkind is his TED Talk entitled ‘Learning through Music and Art‘ shows just how much music is a part our lives through unique questioning. He also states that when teaching with an Orff approach, an important aspect of music instruction is not so much learning the notes, but engaging with it as if learning a language – immersed, playful, experimental. This got me thinking about integrating technology meaningfully.

…you don’t begin with the symbol you begin with the sound…

If I could provide the same learning experiences of improvisation, creativity and playfulness that the Orff approach embodies with technology, what would my classroom look like?

Incidentally, this same approach was echoed in Bassist Victor Wooten’s Ted Talk when he describes how he learnt music.

Point 2 is more specific. How can I educate myself and be an advocate for good music education with integrated technology? One way is to continue engaging with online learning and the variety of courses at Coursera. I have since undertaken courses from Hong Kong University on Chinese Opera Kunqu and a Introduction Course on Ableton Live through Berklee College. Both seem to be at different ends of the content spectrum (old vs new) but what if I developed a lesson for recording Chinese style themes in Ableton? (see cover image).

To be an advocate I will continue developing integrated lessons that not only have iPads but other subjects woven into the learning process. I believe that with creative scaffolding I can develop lessons that utilise the content from Math, Humanities and Science curriculums to integrate technology meaningfully. Sharing such experiences can only help others develop their own approaches and demonstrate the connective power of Music:

Finally, Point 3 will be an ongoing research topic to bring all of the above into an authentic framework of “What does good music education, with technology, look like?” It cannot be argued that the Orff approach and Kodaly method are powerful music pedagogies. And whether you are a doomsayer on screen-time or a revolutionary, you cannot deny that the accessibility of music technology offers new ways of creative learning – learning that can and has resulted in students authoring original works.

I want to develop a philosophy, a framework, even a rubric, on how to create a play-based music technology pedagogy.

Within the next year I intend to blog, share and improve my understanding of PBL structures so that I can create lessons that students are passionate about: Lessons that lead to student authored materials and works for real-world situations. I’m not sure that this will look like just yet, but I get to start it and build it. That alone is something I am passionate about.

“Passion-driven learning, for me, is related to the way the arts in general can actually speak things that words cannot speak,” says Cristina Pato, longtime member of the Silk Road Ensemble and faculty member of The Arts and Passion-Driven Learning. “If you put that in an educational environment, isn’t that the most powerful thing to have?”

Weber, M. Harvard EdCast: Finding Passion in Learning. Accessed August 28, 2016 https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/16/04/harvard-edcast-finding-passion-learning.