Music Technology Lesson Plans
Music technology lesson plans help you incorporate digital tools in your classroom. It’s important to remember that these lessons should always focus on teaching music, not the technology itself.
This article includes some of our favorite music tech tips, articles and lessons to use in your classroom. We hope you find them helpful!
1) Theme-Based Lessons
Whether students are learning about music, history or science, theme-based lessons help them connect academic subjects to their real world. This allows them to better understand and retain what they learn.
For example, in one lesson, students listen to a song and discuss its theme. They individually identify the underlying lesson and topic and then write their thoughts on the whiteboard or chart paper for class discussion.
Another lesson involves having students compose a musical soundtrack for a short film. This activity is especially effective for teaching music students about composing in layers and arranging.
Another great use of edtech is for music teachers to incorporate collaborative songwriting into their classrooms. Using apps such as WURRLY and OceanWaves gives students the opportunity to create and share their jams with peers. Moreover, this is an excellent way to introduce and practice digital audio workstations (DAW) which are programs that can edit or create music tracks. Free DAW’s like GarageBand and Audacity are also a great resource for music teachers.
2) Collaborative Songwriting
Collaborative songwriting offers new paths for creativity and democratizes the power of storytelling. It can also reduce the distance between current and past experiences, hopes, dreams, fears and goals.
For this collaborative songwriting week participants had to write a song to a brief which could be pitched to an act in the music industry. This required them to find common ground, despite their individual styles, preferred genres and writing methods.
Songwriting and production tasks are often merged in the recording studio. This makes it hard to isolate and subtract the effects of one activity from another. For example, the ‘production’ task of quantising a drum part can inspire later’songwriting’ decisions on how that part is to be used in a song.
Similarly, the verbal behaviours of a co-writer in approving or rejecting creative ideas may impact on future’songwriting’ decisions. This is especially the case when a songwriter is ‘editing’ lyrical scansion. In that instance, a new idea for an edit may be suggested.
3) Digital Audio Workstations (DAW)
DAWs are a central hub for the music production process and allow you to bring your creative ideas to life in tandem with the technical side. You can record and build up beats, add instruments or vocal parts, lay out your arrangement, add effects, mix your song, and master your finished work all within one interconnected hub.
DAW technology has made the production of music more accessible than ever. What once required a brass section in New Orleans, a vocalist in Nashville, and percussion in Pretoria, can now be recorded in your home studio and brought together by an audio engineer.
It is important to find a DAW that works for your workflow and musical style. It’s also helpful to consider the DAW’s track record for providing updates and customer support. Lastly, you will want to ensure your computer meets the minimum requirements for running the program. This includes enough RAM, processing speed, disk space and a monitor big enough to view the different arrangement views.
4) Audio Recording
Sound recording is one of the main activities involved in music production. Recording sound involves capturing musicians’ performances so they can be reworked into finished projects for the public to enjoy. Sound waves are captured on a medium like magnetic tape or digital equipment (hard drives) and stored as an electrical representation.
Digital recordings were a major turning point in music technology. When the first all-digitally recorded music album, Ry Cooder’s Bop ‘Til You Drop, was released in 1979, it caused a paradigm shift from analog to digital recording and reproduction in every level of audio production: from professional recording studios to home hi-fi systems.
This paradigm shift also extended to data sonification, mapping information to sonic parameters that articulate features in the data. Students in the music technology domain learn about this important process and also gain skills in data creation, mapping, and audio production techniques that are necessary to vivify our massive amount of data.