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This past weekend, I was honored to be the morning keynote speaker and give two presentations at the first-ever Music and Technology of Houston (MATCH) conference. This conference was run by the following group of excellent music educators whom I owe many thanks:
Michele Hobizal – TCDA Elementary Vice-President
Juli Salzman – TMEA Elementary Vice-President
Lauren Summa – TMEA Region 17 Elementary Chair
TMEA elementary region chairs supporting the planning and implementation of this conference are:
Region 9 – Kimberly Gibson, Conroe ISD
Region 13 – Casey Medlin, Fort Bend ISD
Region 17 – Lauren Summa, Alvin ISD
Region 19 – Sarita Napoleon-Mills, Galena Park ISD
Region 23 – Michelle Lopez, Alief ISD
Region 27 – Abigail Hawes, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD
The conference ran flawlessly and had numerous presentations from many great clinicians such as Denise Gagne, Phyllis Thomas, the amazing Cherie Herring, and so many more. To read a complete list of the presenters, please click here.
My keynote was titled “How Technology is Transforming the Way We Teach Elementary Music” and I tacked on at the opening of the keynote, “for the better.” I began the keynote taking a trip back in time showing four different pictures of music classes from the 1920s-1960s. I then fast forward to 2010. Throughout those historical pictures, I pointed out that the only technology shown in the early photos was a radio. I continued on to show posts from blogs and the Music Teacher FB group that question any sort of technology in the music classroom. These posts ran around the same theme of “let the music class be screen-free” and “music tech could never replace traditional music making.” I then showed many examples from my classroom where the theory that technology in the music class would replace traditional music making was not valid. I showed numerous examples of where technology enhanced creativity, enhanced composition, made cross-curricular connections more feasible and gave more ownership for the students, where technology enhanced ensembles and performing together, and where technology assisted in assessments where some teachers must present data to administrators. Finally, I showed how technology can assist in redefining our classroom, but not have to be “the redefinition” of our classroom. I have to thank Paul Swanson’ blog titled, “Rethinking SAMR” as it helped me to realize that technology can be used in through the process of substitution, augmentation, and modification, but when your classroom reaches redefinition, technology might not appear there. Technology might have been the tool that got the class to be redefined, but not in the final stage.
The end of the day keynote was given by Cherie Herring from SC and it involved creativity in the music classroom. As I listened to Cherie, I realized too, that she was giving a similar message: technology was used in the process to redefine creativity in her classroom. However, her final examples of creativity focused on the students’ process of creativity and their final comprehension of the music concepts being taught. It did not focus on the technology. She and I were both showing the same wonderful things: creativity, performing together, composing together, and making music together in the elementary music classrooms where technology enhanced it and in some cases, gave the students more ownership, but technology was not the end-all-be-all of our classrooms.
I am thankful to the whole MATCH crew and I sincerely hope that I “lit a fire” to all of those who attended.
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com