The Future of Learning: Technology in Our Music Classes, Pt. 1

Author: Kyle Liss – Dec 30, 2019

In the St. Vrain Valley School District, we are incredibly fortunate to have access to technology for every student in the form of our iPads and computer labs. In the FHS Music Department, we are all big believers in the importance of technology. We recognize that it is a ubiquitous part of 21st-century life, and that helping our students to learn with and through technology is part of preparing them for modern adult life. As such, we want to give you a glimpse into how we implement technology in our classrooms across our department. In this first installment, we will focus on two of our General Music classes.

Music Technology

Screenshot of a student's Garageband remix project from Fall 2019.
Screenshot of a student’s Garageband remix project from Fall 2019.

Music Technology is one of my very favorite classes to teach. We use Garageband as our platform, and dive into a broad variety of music recording, engineering, and production concepts. In this class, students begin with the basics of DAW’s (Digital Audio Workstations), then proceed to learn about audio effects, and recording techniques and methods. From there, they begin to harness their creative voice through a remix project, and conclude by creating multiple original songs, both individual and collaborative. Because of the way in which Garageband is designed, even students who do not have music theory knowledge or instrumental skills are able to express themselves. The process proves both challenging and rewarding, and their capstone portfolio of the semester’s work shows the fruits of their labor. Ultimately, I view the class as a place for students to learn all the basics they need in order to pursue and experience the deep rewards of a lifetime of music making through technology.

Check out some recent portfolios here:


Screenshot of a student's counting write-in using Notability on their iPad.
Screenshot of a student’s counting write-in using Notability on their iPad.

Our Piano class takes place in the computer lab, so technology has always been integrated into the curriculum. Since I have begun teaching Piano this year, though, I have taken an approach that utilizes techniques of “blended learning.” This means we combine traditional teaching methods with digitally-driven experiences to give students a unique way to learn the material. Thanks to Schoology’s excellent features, I can have three difficulty levels of content happening simultaneously depending on a student’s prior knowledge and experience. Students use their iPads, computers, and Garageband for every assignment, and this allows me to provide detailed feedback more easily than with non-digital methods. We have monthly “In-Class Recitals,” and students are allowed to pick their own music and learn through YouTube tutorials, thus giving them voice and choice over some of their songs. Written work, like inserting the counting on their sheet music, is made easier with Notability and Google Docs assignments. In all these ways, technology is integrated meaningfully into the curriculum to improve the overall quality of student learning.

Posted on: December 30, 2019, by :

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