Students love their iPads, but can their iPads help them love school and their music class?
A recent USC study suggests they can. Prof. Michelle Risconscente shows how using the app, Motion Math for 20 minutes over a 5 day period, increased students’ math scores by 15%. Virtually everyone agreed that the app is a fun way to learn fractions, and those who reported “liking” fractions increased by 10%.
Furthermore, the Unified San Diego school district, which recently spent $10 million dollars on 26,000 iPads has already shown marked improvements using iTunes U rather than traditional textbooks.
If the choice is between a heavy textbook with limited information and an iPad with quick access to multiple sources and rich content, which would you rather your students have in music class?
Using iPads also integrates social sharing and interactive methods of learning, such as gamification. Our students are the first generation to have access to all available worldly knowledge.
But can it work for a music class?
Absolutely. In fact, an iPad gives student musicians access to more technology and more resources than professionals had just a few years ago. Let’s start with the basics:
1. Listen to Music: At the core of learning is listening. Musicians are always students, and students learn from other musicians. Listen to Charlie Parker improvise. Listen to Pat Matheny’s method books come to life. Listen to the London Philharmonic play Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. That’s how musicians learn.
2. Learn Music History: Wikipedia is the single greatest resource our students’ have today. Reading a few links on the history of the orchestra, the history of Jazz, and the rise of rock and roll provides context as well as cultural understanding. Look a little harder and find live recordings of the Beatles touring England before coming to America. Such rich media can’t be found in textbooks.
3. Now let’s get a little more technical. I’m talking tools of the trade, and every musician needs the right tools. Say goodbye to carrying around metronomes and tuners. If you have a smartphone or a tablet, you already have a tuner and a metronome. Check out the app store’s free metronomes and inexpensive tuners.
4. Listen to yourself: One of the hardest things to do as a musician is to listen to yourself. The inner ear interprets sound differently than when played from a different source. Sometimes the playback is quite surprising. Recording and critiquing yourself is a great way to hone your skills.
5. Where exactly is your sheet music? It’s everywhere, right? In books hidden in your piano bench. Underneath your couch. Jammed in a backpack. Wouldn’t life be better if all your music was in one place? Well, the future is here, and it’s called the cloud. With an iPad, you can access your documents anywhere you access the Internet.
6. Distributing music to hundreds of musicians is hard. But in a digital world, it does not have to be. With free web and iPad applications like Chromatik, you can upload sheet music to a playlist and share that playlist with everyone in your group or music class instantly.
7. Make an album for $4.99 with the Garage Band app. Their ‘smart’ instruments create great, syncopated sounds while still allowing you the creative power to make great sounding songs. The Garage Band app is an ideal way to introduce students to creating and recording music.
8. Music is social: With an iPad you can interact with your band, teacher, or students from anywhere. You can ask questions, share content, and learn outside of the classroom. And since music is inherently social, the iPad is the perfect platform to communicate outside of the rehearsal room or music class.
Chromatik is a fantastic platform that integrates all these tools and does so for free. If you have not yet created an account, sign up here, and share a playlist with your class.
Love your iPad; love your music class.