Areas of Pedagogical Skill and Understanding (TAPSU)


TI:ME is a leading organization that acts in support of teachers who integrate technology into music teaching. An ad hoc committee of educators has created this document to encapsulate the Pedagogical Skills and Understandings that we suggest teachers should obtain in order to make competent use of technology for teaching music in their classrooms.
We recognize that every teaching and learning scenario is distinct; as such, each of the Areas of Pedagogical Skill and Understanding will be differently applicable for each teacher. Teachers are therefore encouraged to focus their skill development on areas that are most relevant to their work and to their students’ learning.

TI:ME recognizes the existence and importance of various sets of standards that drive American music education. These include the NAfME National Standards, the ISTE Standards, Common Core State Standards, and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills Standards. We further assert that most of these standards govern the skills and knowledge that P-12 students should acquire; as an organization that supports teachers, the connection between these standards and our mission is vital.

It is not the purpose of this document to draw practical connections between standards for students and expectations for teachers. This task has been undertaken in other TI:ME publications in the past, and modernization of those ideas is an immediate goal for our organization.

Theoretical Basis:

We draw on an important theoretical construct as the foundation of this document: Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) (Mishra & Koehler, 2006; Koehler & Mishra, 2008) suggests that three distinct domains of teacher knowledge can intersect to form a complex knowledge (TPACK). For the purposes of TAPSU, we suggest that music teachers must develop a strong foundation in (musical) content knowledge, must be well-versed in the ways that students learn (pedagogical knowledge), and must have sophisticated skills and understanding of technologies that can support musical teaching and learning.

This theoretical orientation leads to several key suggestions:

- The TAPSU are a set of ideas that guide teaching. We make no assumption that teaching directly influences student learning.

- The primary responsibility of music teachers is to educate students with and through music to develop music literacy, independence, continuing interest and involvement, and to help students to express themselves creatively.

- Technology is an ever-changing entity and, as such, no set of expectations can remain static. This is a living document that will change with the times, but remains as technology-agnostic as possible to accommodate for the rapidly progressing nature of technology.

- The TAPSU are intended to be used alongside or in tandem with other sets of standards including those developed for general education, music education, and technology-based education.

Areas of Skill and Understanding:

Note that the Areas are presented in an order not intended to suggested relative importance.

Music Instruction Software

Teacher should be able to guide students to musical learning through the following:
- Understanding strengths and weaknesses of various CAI titles, and how to critique them

- Using CAI titles for both formative and summative assessment
- Using both locally-installed and web-based software to support musical learning

Computer Music Notation

Teacher should be able to guide students to musical learning through the following:
- Entering and editing musical data using a variety of methods

- Storing, sharing, and distributing properly formatted notated scores

- Connecting music notation software with other kinds of music and productivity software

Multimedia Development

Teacher should be able to guide students to musical learning through the following: - Understanding of various formats and systems for creating and distributing multimedia artifacts
- Employing strategies for gathering, storing, repurposing, and distributing analog and digital media elements

- Understanding of fundamental media concepts such as color, image formats, sound formats, and video formats

Electronic Musical Instruments

Teachers should be able to guide students to musical learning through the following:
- Understanding of the distinct characteristics of electronic musical instruments and the associated performance techniques
- Applying specialized functions such as editing of stored sounds, and creation of new or layered sounds

Productivity Tools, Classroom and Lab Resources

Teacher should be able to guide students to musical learning through the following:
- Employing management techniques for digital files including conversion, storage, and distribution
- Using productivity software to create materials for classroom use
- Understanding of server and network architectures appropriate for classroom support

In addition to the above musical learning goals, teachers should strive for the following as technology leaders:
- Helping students understand proper netiquette (online etiquette) when using Internet-based learning tools;

- Demonstrating and demanding responsible and productive uses of social media for communication, distribution of work, and audience development.

Electronic Music Production

Teacher should be able to guide students to musical learning through the following:

- Recording, editing, storing, mixing, sharing, and discriminating between audio and MIDI data

- Using and creating loop content
- Applying specialized tools within specific DAW applications
- Applying musical edits and modifications to audio and MIDI data
- Using DAW software to explore and create music of varying styles and genres - Connecting DAW software with other kinds of music and productivity software
- Using DAW software in live performance scenarios

Live Sound Reinforcement

Teacher should be able to guide students to musical learning through the following:

- Setup, care, and maintenance of sound reinforcement equipment such as mixers, microphones, amplifiers, speakers, and cables;
- Understanding of variables of venues that would influence equipment selection and use.


Koehler, M., & Mishra, P. (2008). Introducing TPCK. In AACTE Committe on Innovation and Technology (Ed.), Handbook of technological pedagogical content knowlege (TPCK) for educators (pp. 3-29). New York, NY: Routledge/American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017- 1054.


The TI:ME Areas of Skill and Understanding were drafted by a committee chaired by Dr. Jay Dorfman, and consisting of Craig Sylvern, Barbara Freedman, Charles Menoche, Cindy Edwards and James Myers. The committee was formed in 2013, and the document published to the TI:ME website in 2016. The draft document was reviewed by the TI:ME Board of Directors, then by the TI:ME membership at large. 

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