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I have just returned from San Antonio, Texas, where I attended the 2013 TI:ME conference in conjunction with the Texas Music Educators’ Association. What an amazing experience it was! I got to connect and collaborate with the top flight of music educators using technology in their classrooms, and I learned so much about how secure and exciting our future is through TI:ME, the Technology Institute for Music Educators.
Jay Dorfman (Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts) and Keith Mason (Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee) organized a superb smorgasbord of sessions for educators. The number of registrations on the first day alone is testament to how phenomenal their work was – the future is very bright if that number of Music Educators want to learn from TI:ME. Scott Phillips (University of Birmingham, Alabama) showed us the future with a superb performance by his Computer Music Group at the TI:ME reception – every piece they played was student-composed, student-performed, and the students themselves were getting the greatest kick out of playing computer music for an audience that really gets it, and understands how extraordinary their work and dedication is.
Keith noted at the TI:ME banquet that the most popular sessions were the ones that included the words “free”, “beer” or “iPad” in their titles. In that case “Using your iPad to score free beer” will definitely be the title I submit to Keith for next year’s conference. Seriously though, the number of educators who are excited about new technologies such as the iPad and what it can offer to instruction is hugely positive. I gave an 8am session on Friday morning about using the iPad with Special Needs students, and I so loved how many people got out of bed on a Friday to get to the early session, just so they can enhance the lives of disadvantaged students. Seeing those excited people ready to learn that morning was, by itself, worth the whole trouble of 6+ hours of plane travel to get to San Antonio.
Joe Pisano (Grove City College, Grove City, Pennsylvania) and I also gave a session on Using the iPad to Encourage Improvisation. It was a total joy for me to work side-by-side with Joe. He is a truly phenomenal educator, and tag-teaming with him was an experience I definitely want to repeat soon and often. Joe is an inspiration to me, not only as a de facto tech-head genius, but also as a musician. We finished our session with a jam over Pink Floyd’s “Breathe”, and I just had to close my eyes and drink in the whole experience. If someone had told me ten years ago that I would be improvising a solo on a Roland keytar with Joe Pisano in a packed house at a TMEA convention, I would have considered them crazy, but thanks to TI:ME, this really happened.
Barb Freedman (Greenwich High School, Connecticut) spent an hour signing her book “Teaching Music Through Composition” at the OUP booth, and conference attendees were thrilled to pick up a pre-release copy of her superb text. Yes, you can’t get it on amazon yet, but you can if you know Barb. Barb’s sessions were packed and entertaining as ever -“instructional stand-up” is how my wife likes to describe her infectious teaching style. Barb is an amazing educator, and I encourage everyone to check out her book – you can pre-order through Oxford University Press – http://tinyurl.com/b5oskw3
Dave Sebald (University of Texas at San Antonio) delighted us all with a charming and erudite keynote about the future of Technology in Music Education. His speech was superbly crafted, giving us all an enormous amount of confidence about the future of our craft and how important we are as educators. We all felt energized and excited to return to our schools and universities to continue the work.
Mike Lawson, Executive Director of TI:ME, showed us the new features of the TI:ME website, and all the exciting things which are coming down the pike, including the social media connections through www.ti-me.org. Jim Frankel, Executive Director of Music First, wowed us all with the new directions he has been pursuing in cloud-based Music Technology education. Peter Lee, owner of Rising Software, continues to push the envelope in Aural Skills and Theory Training with his latest cloud-based versions of Auralia and Musition. I’m glad to see that Peter’s software is part of the suite offered to schools by Music First – Peter is a genius and sets the bar very high for the standards of computer-delivered Music Education.
I had the great pleasure to have chats with some young people developing iPad-based tools. Peter Carney (Saint Xavier University and City Colleges of Chicago), along with Brian Felix (University of North Carolina at Asheville), has created a phenomenal ebook called “Interactive Listening”. This has been a true labor of love for Peter (he locked himself in his basement for a year to write this) and the result is a truly remarkable multi-media resource that many teachers will want to use to enhance listening skills and critical thinking in their curricula. I love how he has worksheets throughout the resource which encourage students to think and write (read “not multiple-choice!”) and then submit their work to their teacher. You can download the book from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/interactive-listening/id597212213?mt=13. I really encourage you to check it out – you can get a sample of the book from the iTunes link. Jonathan Nesvadba is a developer who is creating some seriously ground-breaking apps for music education and performance. His Polyphonic Strobe Tuner is superbly accurate and easy to use, plus it’s polyphonic, which is mind-blowing! Did I mention that it’s also polyphonic? Jonathan and I chatted at the airport after the conference, and he told me of what he’s working on now. I can’t tell you what it is yet, but you can be sure I’ll be checking it out as soon as he’s finished the development of his new app, and I’ll be posting a review on mustech.net. I’ll also go into more detail about Peter Carney and Jonathan Nesvadba’s work in a future mustech.net posting.
I really enjoyed seeing the future of Music Education through some of the young teachers who attended the conference. Dr. Rick Dammers (Rowan University, New Jersey) ran the Leadership Academy for Music Ed majors who will be going into the field in the next year or two. All of the students were a credit to their Universities, and their wide-eyed enthusiasm for learning was refreshing to see. The highlight of the conference for me was the whoop of delight from them when one of their number, a fine young man by the name of Ceylon Mitchell (Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts) won the top prize giveaway – a $2000 package of software and hardware from Soundtree. Catie Dwinal (Elm Street School and Pleasant Street School, Laconia, New Hampshire) continues to impress me with her dedication to learning and infusing her music teaching with technology. Catie is not long out of college, yet she presented two sessions at a National Conference with dignity and aplomb, and she is quickly becoming the poster-girl for Quaver Music. I know Quaver are thrilled to have someone of her enthusiasm and skill using their product. It was great to see her and the amazing Amy Burns (Far Hills Country Day School, Far Hills, New Jersey) present a session together. Amy was one of the reasons I joined TI:ME in 2005, and I love to continue to see her work grow and blossom. The room was packed and I had to stand, but I loved every minute.
I must give a shout-out of thanks and sincere appreciation to PreSonus, Oxford University Press, and Music First for sponsoring the TI:ME Teacher of the Year award. This award is so important, not only because it honors Mike Kovins without whom there would be no TI:ME, but it also recognizes the very best in what we can achieve as teachers. The picture above shows five of the Teachers of the Year after the TI:ME banquet. I feel unbelievably honored to be standing in that picture, because each of the people surrounding me are educators who have reached a pinnacle of achievement in teaching music with technology, and they continue to climb. I got to hang out with them all for much of the conference, and each of them continues to talk about and develop new ways of improving the quality and efficacy of music technology education – just look at the smiles if you want to know how cool it is to hang out with educators who are talking about the future. Rick, Barb, Joe, Amy – you are my heroes. You are the face of TI:ME, and the future is very bright.
Richard McCready is a composer, musician, and the Director of Music Technology at River Hill High School in Columbia, Maryland. He was born in Northern Ireland and studied tuba performance, piano, and composition at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, England. Since emigrating to the US in 1992, he has held teaching positions at The Park School of Baltimore, Towson University, and Mayfield Woods Middle School, Elkridge, MD; he has also played professionally with the Monumental Brass Quintet, the Lexington Brass Quintet, and the Denhard/McCready Duo. He has earned two Masters degrees from Towson University, one in tuba performance and one in vocal performance. He plays many musical instruments, but the focus of his teaching is Music Technology in which he is widely regarded as one of the outstanding innovators in the US. His book, Making Music with GarageBand and Mixcraft, was published in 2010. Richard was awarded the TI:ME 2013 Mike Kovins Teacher of the Year Award and also the Howard County 2013 Music Educator of the Year.