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Technology and music

grayscale photography of person using dj controller

I finally watched Tick, Tick, BOOM the other day.

It was fabulous, inspiring, and reminded me that our profession asks more of us than we should perhaps be constantly willing to give.

One of the most touching moments of the film was the birthday present of a leather bound book of blank manuscript.

It reminded me of being a music student, desperately trying to keep track of loose pieces of paper, covered with snatches of ideas, lonely notes waiting for a home.

Now, I have only one source of manuscript. A small leatherbound notebook, imprinted with my name and a message from people who love me, to put down any sudden bursts of inspiration.

The main reason for that, of course, is that I now create most of music electronically. I use Finale, Logic Pro, and a whole host of other supporting applications. I can’t pretend that it’s any more organised than it was back then, but at least I don’t lose crucial pieces of information by accident.

More than that though, music technology allows me to create sounds and musical moments that I could not without it. The modern music world would not be what it is without technology.

So what is its place in our music classrooms?

Well, it has to be included. It is not an option to be dismissed because it is not ‘traditional’. Traditions change, practice grows. It is possible to move on without leaving everything behind. If we want to create effective, industry ready musicians, we need to make sure we give them the tools to succeed.

How to begin, then?

Well, a simple place to start is by recording their work. Then listen. In GarageBand, are there any edits they would like to make? Any parts they would like louder, quieter, more resonant?

With that simple 10 minute task, you have included some of the main elements of mixing and production, without straying away from improving their performance.

As digital natives, students nowadays will take that information and run with it. Give them the time, and you will be astounded by what they can create!


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