Sunday, January 17, 2010

Innovation Brings Music Appreciation to the World

By Mark T. Burke


I've been away from the blog for a few days because things have been busy at viaAcademies.  We just launched a really exciting project as the result of feedback from many teachers and administrators.  For the last year, we've focused on developing innovative Instrumental Music instruction. Due to our innovative approach to music instruction, we've been asked how we can help students more generally gain an understanding and appreciation of music. Our latest project will help students everywhere gain an appreciation for music through the use of modern, hands on applications and delivery methods. 

Great schools, whether brick and mortar, virtual or home-based ensure their students are exposed to music.  In fact, most states include music as part of their mandated curriculum.  In my previous post, How Portfolios Build Value in Your Instrumental Program, I stated that 8% of the US States do NOT require Music Education.  That means that pretty much every US educated student will be exposed to some level of music instruction during their K-12 education.

At NECC 2009 (check out ISTE 2010, many individuals stopped by our booth and expressed their need to provide exciting music courses to their students.  The overwhelming question asked was "What do you have to help teach GarageBand?" When we asked why teachers and school officials wanted to teach GarageBand, the responses included "kid's love it and want to use it", "we want kids to compose music for their multimedia projects", "we have it on every computer and don't know what to do with it" and more.

We do consider ourselves good listeners and great solution builders. Adding all the needs together we developed our plan to build an online Music Appreciation course centered around the computer as the instrument.  Development began last week on our Music Appreciation Through Application course.  The course will help schools of any type provide students a hands-on opportunity to gain appreciation for music.  The course will combine the capabilities of GarageBand with the study of significant musical history and compositional techniques. Students who complete the course will learn to use GarageBand while experimenting with their own composition skills through a number of class projects. 

We are currently researching which PC program best matches the capabilities of GarageBand.  In the end, our goal is to produce a course that can meet the needs of students who have access to MACs and PC's.  We would love to have your input as part of our research.  If you are a PC users and know the capabilities of GarageBand, let us know which PC application you feel is the best match. 

Ultimately we want every student (around the world) to love music class.  Students who learn nothing more than composer birthdays and beginning and ending dates for historical periods gain little to influence their continued love and appreciation for music.  We believe students must have hands on opportunities in order for their knowledge and skills to have true, lasting meaning in their lives.  As the course develops, we will keep everyone up to date with a few sneak peeks.

How could a course like this help your students? 

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