A time for technology and TI:ME

For those of you not involved with [tag]music education[/tag], I think you would be surprised to find out how much technology is involved in our field. From digital audio to non-linear editing, students of music education must be proficient with all of it.

My Music Technology classes cover four main areas of technology:

  • Electronic reproduction of music
  • [tag]Computers, Networking[/tag] and Internet
  • [tag]Acoustics[/tag]
  • Analog and digital sound reinforcement and recording

It is very hard to even break the surface of such vast topics such as the aforementioned categories in a three-credit class. There is just simply that much to learn about and know!

Today’s music teacher must be versed in the highly technical needs of tomorrow students. They must understand and incorporate the technologies into a cohesive classroom approach. Many times I have found a teacher bewildered by technology to the point where the students are so far ahead of them that they are embarrassed or simply give up on learning the newer technologies. For those of you that think today’s technologies are too hard to keep up with, I say balderdash!

Bewildered Music Educators everywhere take note: The Technology Institute for Music Educators was founded to help YOU! You can visit them at www.ti-me.org. They offer courses and certifications for teachers in the areas of technology. They have been around for many years now and have perfected their approach. You can find their courses being offered in almost every state.

I cover many of the same academic topics, as TI:ME, in my classes. My students must become proficient with using [tag]MIDI[/tag] (music instrument digital interface), digital audio editing, analog recording, basic public address systems, instructional computer aided software, electronic portfolios, web page design, excel, word, power point, music notation programs and much more.

One of the things that amazes me is that music majors (who have been playing and studying music and instruments for 8+ years by the time they get to college) come without an understanding of the prerequisite tool they need to succeed; the ear and it’s function. They simply have not made the connection yet. They use it without thinking about it. A basic understanding of the ear and it’s workings is the solid ground work needed to truly understand audio and music better. Perhaps a topic for the next post?

The bigger picture is this, not only do music students have to be skilled in the technologies of today but so does the student in almost every other field! I can foresee a day where a basic technology curriculum is included at the university level in addition to the liberal arts core; this more than simply a comp. 101 or 102 class. It’s needed now and it should start in the public schools. It should be a cross-curriculum effort and cross-course effot. The technologist should be an educator as well as a techno-wizard. The technologist should integrate into the others teacher’s courses as well as teach technology courses standalone.

Digital technologies are beginning to become so interwoven in our everyday life (at least in 1st world countries) that you can’t go thirty seconds without using something that has an integrated circuit in it. Think about it… remote controls, cars, refrigerators, many light switches, garage doors, microwaves, stoves, air conditioners, televisions, computers, and some toilets! Even the kids have light up shoes and their toys…don’t get me started! Whatever happened to board games that didn’t have lights, voice prompts and automatic dice rollers? Have you seen the price of the new Xbox?!? :)

There is so much information out there, it’s hard to separate the good information from the “miss”-information. I have had students unknowingly quote me things, published on the internet, as fact that in reality, were incorrect. A real surprise there…

I spend much time talking about what constitutes good information. Is it published by a reputable source? Was it published in a referred journal? Did the article include references? Did they bother to check them? etc.

It is so easy to spell check a document now…how many people can really spell well? Does having excellent spelling skills matter in today’s everyday life? What! you say. How many people can really do math well?… Do you need to in every day life, maybe the basics: x10, x2, divide by 2, 10%, etc….how about that calculator?

I’m certainly not promoting that people do not need to do well at math or spelling (I think they should do well, even excel at them!!!). I’m just saying that twenty years ago you needed to be pretty darn good at math and memory to be a supermarket cashier, now you need only be able to run the scanner and call the floor manager, who is standing nearby (wonder why), to fix the, seemingly ever-increasing, flow of foul ups at the register. ENTER the “scan your own” registers. Now you don’t even need to have a cashier scan things, you’ve seen it done so much yourself, you’ve even mastered it without ever trying itever! But I digress.

The point was, I think, that technology is so much apart of us that we need to spend time at it to get better. We need to learn it. Want to know what your kids are really good at?… “I.M.-ing”. Don’t know what that is?; This article is for you! Why are they good at it? They do it all day, in school, on their phones, at home, everywhere. Can you imagine if they practiced their music, instruments or math like that? Oh, what a world it would be. A piece of advice I give the incoming freshmen; “Practice your instruments for four years like you play your playstations or shop for discounts and you WILL be good when you graduate!”

If you want to be good at something you have to do it. You have to learn it. You have to be shown it. You have to study it. It does not matter if it’s music, technology or whatever. If you want to rise above the mediocrity your going to have to do “whatever” many, many times. If you want to rise above the mediocrity your going to have to do “whatever” many, many times. After all, how do we truly master anything? Repetition, Repetition, Repetition.


Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D. is the creator of many education websites, a lecturer, clinician, trumpeter, and conductor. He is currently the Associate Chair of Music and Director of Bands in the Calderwood School of Arts at Grove City College in PA. He been named a TI:ME Teacher of the Year, received the JEN Jazz Educator Award and the PA Citation of Excellence. He is a past Vice President of the Technology Institute for Music Educators and the current Vice-President of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association. He also writes for DCI Magazine, Teaching Music Magazine, and is the Educational Editor for In-Tune Monthly Magazine; he has contributed hundreds of articles to various publications. Find out more at his website jpisano.com.
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