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TECHNOLOGY SPOTLIGHT


EDUCATING THE OTHER 80% By MATTHEW ETHERINGTON


be excused for


What does that mean? You might thinking this phrase


has something to do with the recent political debates, but no. The other 80% has become a buzz word in music technology circles over recent years, following a series of research findings by the likes of Dr. Rick Dammers and Dr. David Williams (musiccreativity. org). They have concluded that, on average, only 20% of high school student in the United States go on to study music at the high school level. So what about the other 80% of our high school students who are not engaged in music at school? They can be described as the “Non-Traditional Music Student” and I want to share with you one way in which I have opened up high school music to these kids at my school, as well as to our “traditional” music students. Non-traditional music


students


are those kids who play guitar, drums, sing, or maybe love listening to music but don’t play an instrument. Perhaps they do not


read traditional notation


and have a music life that is completely independent of school. At my school, we have graduated kids into college music programs, but we have also graduated successful “alternative” music students such as those in the pop and electronica worlds. High school students in both categories can be hugely successful, and can be brought into our school programs through the influence of music technology. I am in year


three of teaching a class called “Music Technology” but Let’s begin with the first hurdle: MATTHEW ETHERINGTON


budget. I say hurdle, but really money is not the ultimate factor when it comes to launching a new course or program. It begins with a VISION, and for me this happened at a TI:ME National Conference where I first heard about “the other 80%.” I went away from that session more informed and energized about the need for different kinds of music programs in our high schools. I thought “why not at my school?” and began to put


together a proposal for


it could equally well have been called “Music Composition.” My


students


record, edit, layer, and mix sounds together using GarageBand and a MIDI piano keyboard at a computer workstation. Those who read notation can work with notation and those who just use their ears can manipulate audio. Compositions range in style from classical to jazz to the weirdest ambient noises you’ve ever heard. I love it all and value it all equally. I’m here advocating for music I also believe that


technology, but


learning to be creative through music composition is another focus area for music teachers. The power of technology to give students full creative license is so much greater now than it was when I was a high school student. Our responsibility is to understand the potential and empower students with the right tools. We don’t have to be experts in technology to do this, and I’m going to provide you with some specifics here that will give you a solid starting point for your own programs.


my principal. Having attended music technology sessions at both regional and national conferences strengthened my case, and I was able to back up my proposal with solid research. It’s equally important


to get the


appropriate TRAINING, so that you are prepared to teach using technology and not be at the beginning of a major learning curve. Start small, with one laptop or


tablet


and show how effective technology integration can be before jumping in at


courses available through TI:ME, SoundTree, Berklee College of Music, and other schools that can significantly strengthen your skills. If you want a down-and-dirty method of educating yourself in specific areas, then there’s a little website called YouTube which might come in useful. Ok, so now to BUDGET. In our


school, we were able to keep the cost to around $1000 per station, which should give you a ballpark figure. Think about the best platform for your school. It does make a difference whether your tech team will actually support your choice of computer, so make sure you speak to them first. The last thing you want is to be the only one in charge of fixing your machines. There’s no right or wrong option here. Think about your hardware and software needs and how to achieve your goals in a cost effective way. In our lab, we used large inexpensive LCD monitors with a more expensive base computer to achieve an effective set up. Our MIDI controller keyboards, while a step up from the basic model, double as an audio interface, allowing us to plug in a microphone or guitar without additional hardware. The software was already installed, eliminating the need for additional purchases. The only upgrade that has been necessary


18 NORTH CAROLINA MUSIC EDUCATOR/SPRING 2014 the deep end. There are many


in your classroom


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