music clip_artMany schools are considering adding a music technology lab at the high school or college level. Typically, a music tech lab consists of 16-25 student stations with computers and MIDI keyboards. Once the lab is in place, many courses and electives can be offered. These courses can be offered to those students who are enrolled in performing groups such as band, orchestra, and chorus. Also, a technology lab can be the ideal place to excite the non-performer about music.

In his book Aspiring to Excel(GIA Music, Inc.), Ken Raessler states that students can be thought of as both performers and consumers. The performers are those students who participate in the school performing groups such as band, orchestra, and chorus. The consumers are those students not enrolled in performing groups. Raessler points out that we need to address the performers and the consumers of music in our curricular offerings. Also, the national percentage of students enrolled in high school performing groups is approximately 9% nationally. Therefore, there are quite a few students who are potential customers for the music technology lab. These students can experience technology by taking electives at the secondary level. A computer and keyboard lab can be the ideal place to encourage all students to participate in music.

Once the technology lab is installed, a wide range of courses can be offered. Some possible courses include:

  1. Performance
    • Piano instruction: beginning, intermediate, advanced, and adult classes can be offered. These can be separate courses in the lab.
    • Guitar instruction: electric guitars can be used teach guitar in a group setting.
  2. Music Technology
    • Introduction to music technology: an overview of the possible applications with a focus on computer-assisted instruction, sequencing, and notation.
    • Sound design: classes where students will learn to create, edit, and design sounds.
    • Techniques of digital audio: this course requires an advanced MIDI studio with digital audio capability. The concepts of mixing, using effects devices, and other aspects of recording can be addressed.
    • Creating multimedia projects: students can create presentations and other projects using the computer and keyboard. Sometimes this course can be team-taught with a music teacher and technology or graphics educator.
  3. Music composition
    • Students can produce original compositions using music production software and print out scores and parts using notation software.
  4. Music theory, ear-training, and music history
    • Using instructional software, students can drill music theory and ear training concepts. Music theory courses can be offered in a lab setting.
    • Music history and music appreciation can be enhanced using appropriate materials in the lab.

The music tech lab could be scheduled all day with a variety of the above courses in the high school and college. At my high school we hired a fulltime music technology instructor in 2003. In two years we doubled the enrollment in the high school music courses and most of the technology students are those who are not involved in performing ensembles. A music tech lab can have a huge impact on music education at the secondary level.

Tom Rudolph,
TI:ME President & TI:ME Instructor
Director of Music and middle school music instructor for Haverford Township School District, in Havertown, Pennsylvania


by Tom Rudolph
Director of Music and middle school music instructor for Haverford Township School District, in Havertown, PA

Thomas E. Rudolph, Ed.D
is the Director of Music and middle school music instructor for Haverford Township School District, in Havertown, Pennsylvania. He is an adjunct Assistant Professor at The University of the Arts. Dr. Rudolph has authored seven books on music technology including
Teaching Music With Technology, Finding Funds for Music Technology, and The SoundTree General Music Curriculum. He is the co-author of Finale An Easy Guide to Music Notation and Recording in the Digital World. Rudolph's articles have appeared in the Music Educators Journal, The Instrumentalist, and Jazz Educator Journal. In addition, he is a regular contributor to Music Education Technology magazine. Dr. Rudolph was one of the founders of the Technology Institute for Music Educators (TI:ME) and currently serves as President of the organization. He has taught workshops in music technology at 17 institutions of higher learning and has trained over 4,000 music educators in his acclaimed workshops. Dr. Rudolph presented the music technology keynote address for Massachusetts State Conference in 1999, the MENC/TI:ME National Conference in 2002, and the Missouri State Conference in 2003 and the Alabama State Conference in 2005.

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