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Music tech advancements aid Worcester Co. students

By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer

(March 7, 2019) Technology is changing the way students learn performing arts, such as music.

Tamara Mills, Worcester County Public Schools’ coordinator of Fine and Performing Arts and Snow Hill Band Director Matthew Haelig gave a presentation to the board of education, Feb. 19, on how music teachers are embracing technology through two different music programs.

“In the past, we have presented throughout the different special areas – art [and physical education] – and how teachers are using technology to really enhance their classroom,” Mills said. “Today, we’re going to focus on that same type of concept, but with music.”

The programs become co-teachers in the classroom and offer personalized instructions for students as well as help them work independently, while preserving the collaborative nature that is music performance, Mills said.

“It’s been a paradigm shift for some teachers, because they see it as a challenge to integrate technology and performance-based subject areas because it’s so important for the students to use and perform with their tool, whether that be their voice or instrument,” Mills said.

“Nothing is ever going to change that traditional band class … but when it comes to assessment and it comes to small group learning in addition to large group ensemble, technology can be very helpful,” Haelig said.

The first software, is a free, web-based site that allows students to practice with written music theory, terminology and ear training.

“I have used this [program] for every music class I teach,” Haelig said. “It has a co-checking feature which, when you’re on the website, it tracks everything that you do. Then, it generates a unique code that students can send to me so I can get a breakdown of what they’ve done when they’re working individually.”

The subscription software, Smart Music, is a music education platform connecting teachers and students. The software offers access to a library of music to create individual assignments.

“Students within the program have access to a tuner, a metronome, all the recordings of the library and more,” Haelig said. “I can set up templates in there and encourage students to work on it [at their own pace] … Think of it as Guitar Hero, but for music.”

Students can immediately see what notes they achieved or missed, helping them improve. The program allows students to work independently at their own pace, so they can take ownership of learning and essentially become a co-teacher.