Last week, I had the great pleasure of presenting at Indiana University’s (IU) PLUGGING IN: The Role of Technology in 21st Century Musicianship. This exciting event included four featured speakers: Dr. Ann Clements from Penn State, Dr. Christopher Raphael from IU’s School of Informatics and Computing, Dr. Norbert Herber from IU’s Media School, and me.

The mission of this event was to present cutting edge technological advances that can be applied towards musical pursuits. This event was designed to meet the ideals of expanding access to musical experiences and music education for all. I feel that they achieved their mission wonderfully.


Each presenter gave a session from cutting edge educational topics to thinking of music in terms of outside the box. It was fascinating to listen to the other speakers. I learned a great deal from them and I left this symposium with new ideas and tools.

Dr. Ann Clements presented on the topic, “Fun Failure”: What Video Games Can Teach Us About Teaching Music to Children”. Her session reminded me of how much my students know about technology and how they use it in their daily lives. It also reminded me that differentiating our instruction to relate to our students can only enhance our music classrooms. Finally, since I utilize the Design Thinking approach this year in my music classroom, I could relate to a variety of points she was making in her talk. These points ranged from redefining your classroom to having students become the leaders of the classroom. This takes a great deal of time and there are numerous factors in our classroom that challenge us from making this a reality. However, it is a great goal to achieve.

Dr. Christopher Raphael presented on the topic, “The Accompaniment System in Music Education”. One of the aspects that I adored about his topic was that he brought in a live musician. At a technology symposium, it is wonderful to have a live, acoustic performance. It was so nice to hear his violinist perform so beautifully. She performed with his software, which on his website link is titled, “Music Plus One”. At first glance, it reminded me of SMART Music and Practice First. However, it was quite different. It had many orchestral accompaniments to solo repertoire. I was interested in how he extracted the solo lines from the recordings. To read more about this, please click on the link provided above.

Dr. Norbert Herber presented on the topic, “Creating “Sound Art”: Working at the intersections of electronics, visual art, and composition”. His presentation was fascinating and a wonderful way to end the symposium. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the sound art compositions and examples. I loved watching the examples of the software he used to work with the sound art compositions. It made me look at music and art a bit differently. It made me rethink how to listen to it and how to view it. Here is a website referenced on his profile that sheds more light on the topic: 

I presented on, “How technology is transforming the way we teach general music”. This topic is one that, if you know me, I am very passionate about and present frequently. My session began with a bit of history: from where music classrooms came from, sitting at desks with the radio being the newest technology, to the music classrooms of today that include continuous interactive music-making. I presented the case of how technology does enhance the elementary music classroom; however, as a tool to lead to redefining the classroom. I also showed numerous resources and activities that show how technology assists with project-based learning, with active music making, with students who have learning concerns to be able to successfully make and create music, and so much more. In the presentation, I acknowledged that children do have a lot of screen time and the research that shows that a lot of screen time can be detrimental. I also showed how using tech in the music classroom is ultimately about how it can enhance learning and how you can balance it all. In every music classroom, that enhancement and balance look different.

There was a Q&A portion after each speaker ended. My Q&A portion was filled with excellent questions from the music education majors and music educators in the audience. The questions ranged from my thoughts of best tools to reflections on how 1:1 classrooms can improve. My answers varied because it depends on the type of classroom situations the teachers are experiencing and how the research is reflecting the lack of teacher support when it comes to technology.


I want to thank Peter Miksza, Associate Professor of Music (Music Education) at IU, and the IU Jacobs School of Music collegiate chapter of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), in partnership with the IU JSOM Project Jumpstart team and the Indiana Music Educators Association. They put on an excellent symposium and were extremely hospitable and professional!



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