Technology in and For the Instrumental Music Classroom
Music education is as old as education itself. Although sometimes it struggles to be recognized, it still has its advocates. Recently, technology has been used in music education to create technological applications. While most of this technology is meant for the classroom, there are also programs available for students to use at home. However, these programs can only be used by students with internet access and a computer.
American schools have been teaching music since 1838, when Lowell Mason brought singing classes to Boston grammar school. Over the next fifty-years, instrumental music emerged in spurts and fits but was never taught during the school day. Instead it was left to the ranks as an extracurricular activity. Instrumental music saw some acceptance in the classroom at the turn of this century, but was often taught by someone not skilled in music education. A further problem was that there was little to no standardization of music literature or instrumentation. (Rhodes, 2007)
At the close of World War I, the quality of school musical performances began to rise. This was mainly due the fact that many veterans were able to take over music teaching roles in schools after they had been trained musically in their various service branches. Band, however was still considered an extracurricular sport. (Ibid)
The Music Supervisors National Conference was founded in 1907 as a support for school music. A proposal was made in 1912 that included a range of music activities, such as choruses, as accredited subjects. Band was included, though at a lower priority. Edgar B. Gordon, however, stated this later at the Cleveland MSNC Conference in 1923.
“The highschool band is no longer an accidental school enterprise that was initiated largely through the volunteer services of a teacher at high school who has some experience with band, but rather an undertaking which has been assigned to a specific place in the school program with a daily lesson under a trained instructor. Credit is allowed for satisfactory work.” (Ibid)
The first National Band Contest in Chicago was organized by Carl Greenleaf in the same year. Later, in 1928, Conn helped to establish the National Music Camp, Interlochen, Michigan. Conn also supported publications supporting band directors. These actions, though they may have seemed selfish given his Conn connection, were crucial in establishing school band as a major part of schools’ curriculum. (Banks, 1997)
Budget cuts have often reduced, or eliminated, instrumental music programs. This despite an acceptance that has been gradual but not complete. With the increasing emphasis on teaching to the test (NCLB) and other state requirements, it is not surprising that support for music inclusion has begun to decline. Michelle R. Davis said in “Education Week,” that many schools are being forced to cut back on music, art, and other subjects to make way for reading and mathematics …”. This is unfortunate because music, especially instrumental, is beneficial for all students. It can even increase their ability to think and solve problems.
Many theorists have helped elevate music to education. Howard Gardner proposed his Multiple Intelligences theory with the understanding of children’s different propensities for learning. Both have different learning capabilities and differing abilities for learning in many areas . These areas are the areas of varying intelligences, he explained.