TI:ME is pleased to announce the 2013 launch of an exciting project aimed at using technology for teaching music to students with special needs. Through the generous funding of the Meyerson Foundation, TI:ME was able to award a grant to V.J. Manzo, PhD, for the creation of an interactive mobile (iPad/iPhone/Android) app as well as a desktop version (Mac/Windows), to also include curriculum for use of these apps in an educational setting for special needs populations,. The project is intended to create an integrated system that allows instructional objectives as related to music education to be reached and replicated among students with special needs. 


In his grant proposal, Dr. Manzo stated, “Some individuals cannot play traditional acoustic musical instruments, but, instead, play “adapted” or “adaptive” instruments designed for accessibility. Adaptive instruments can provide ease of use and accessibility for disabled and special needs populations. The instruments themselves are commonly created for a specific purpose, such as to play chords or percussive sounds, with a specific individual or group in mind with which the instrument will help overcome some limitation, perhaps physical or mental, on the part of the performer.  Adaptive instruments can be acoustic or electronic in design and Crowe (2004) has reviewed the literature of electronic adaptive instruments used to assist in music making. Recent advances in technology have helped many new adaptive instrument projects to form including Skoog (Schogler, 2010), AUMI (Pask, 2007), My Breath My Music Foundation (Wel, 2011), and EAMIR (Manzo, 2007). “

The latter project, EAMIR, was first developed Dr. V.J. Manzo. as an open-source music technology project involving alternate controllers, sensors, and adaptive instruments to facilitate music composition, performance, and instruction through a collection of interactive music systems. The EAMIR software apps have been implemented in classrooms, including special needs and disabilities populations, research projects, and composition/performance environments. The apps to be developed under this grant from TI:ME and funded by the Meyerson Foundation, will have the same breadth of appeal as other EAMIR apps, but with the narrow scope of serving the specific needs of disabled populations. 

Dr. Manzo will create an app for use on mobile platforms as well as desktops to facilitate instructional objectives germane to special needs music education. These objectives are the result of consulting several full-time special needs music teachers working in special needs facilities in New Jersey. The app will come with a curriculum containing over 30 lesson plans in which a special needs teacher can accomplish his pedagogical objectives using this app. 

The app will be showcased on the TI:ME website, and will be available for free in the Apple App store and Android market as well as from the EAMIR website and will have the following components:

1) Musical Instruments

Several musical instrument graphics will be presented in which the user can click on a single graphic of an instrument to play a chord. For instance, the user would see a picture of a guitar on the screen, and when tapped, a guitar chord would begin playing. This simple design with a single graphic will help to ensure that focus of task is not confounded by the presence of multiple knobs, buttons, or icons. 

These instruments will be utilized in a number of activities involving group performance and individual expression. The chords within each instrument will, by default, be in the same musical key so that students can perform together within different instrument types. An advanced mode will exist for higher-functioning individuals allowing all diatonic chords to be played with a single instrument timbre in numerous keys. 

The projected instruments for use will be guitar, piano, strings, brass, and drums. An in-app purchase option may be added to allow the user to obtain additional instruments.

2) Audio Recorder

An audio recorder app will be present with a simple graphic of a microphone. When tapped, the recorder will record the individual’s voice from the mobile device microphone for 10 seconds and automatically play it back. 

This feature has many activities entailed emphasizing the importance of individuals being able to hear their own spoke or sung voice; this app will provide immediacy to this extent. 

The app and curriculum are targeted to be complete the end of 2013 and hopefully released prior to the 2014 TI:ME National Conference. Please join us in congratulating Dr. V.J. Manzo on this acceptance of this exciting grant proposal! 

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"My membership in TI:ME has changed my life. I was originally trying to integrate technology in my music classroom with little knowledge other than information that I had researched. When I discovered TI:ME, I FINALLY had access to resources that I could immediately use. I was able to network with other professionals and get advice. My TI:ME membership has enabled me to learn more - and teach my students using music technology. If you haven't signed up for TI:ME - it's about time!."

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