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Does the iPad dumb-down serious music teaching? No!

Published on 14/01/14

What is particularly interesting is to see the iPads enabling the already high quality of work reach an even more impressive level.
This post follows on from an earlier piece which outlined the benefits of introducing the iPad to music teaching in our school.

In year 9 lessons, students’ work in the Film Music topic has risen to a completely new level. Gone are the days of writing music to go along with someone else’s film with the mute button activated on the TV – students now use iMovie to make their own films, and then compose and record the music to go with them, editing these together to create a complete miniature film. The film above is an example of one group’s project.

Apps such as GarageBand have been able to unlock the creativity of students who may not have extensive instrumental skills. Using the iPad has not, however, lead to‘dumbing-down’. As music teachers, we still teach exactly the things we want the students to learn – how to create chord sequences and cadences, how to structure pieces with beginnings, middle and end, how to create contrast and continuity in musical material, how to exploit timbre and texture to create the desired musical effect. Crucially, those who have advanced instrumental skills and prefer to work from their instruments still do this – GarageBand can just as happily record live playing, which can also be mixed with electronic sounds if the students wish. By creating recordings of their pieces themselves, the students take a much greater sense of ownership and pride in their work, and as a department, we can share and celebrate this work with others through our Wordpress site.