ATMI 2010: Recreating the Secondary General Music Classroom for the 21st Century Learner: Teaching Music Through Composition with Technology

Barbara FreedmanMusic Technology Basics, Presentations, Session Handouts, teachingLeave a Comment

I was honored to present at the ATMI  Conference (Association for Technology in Music Instruction which met concurrently with the CMS (College Music Society conference in Minneapolis, MN. My session was entitled Recreating the Secondary General Music Classroom for the 21st Century Learner: Teaching Music Through Composition with Technology. Below is the abstract and a link to download a pdf of the handout. A few lesson plans were included in the handout at the conference that are not included in the pdf linked below. If you would like them, please send me an email: barb(at)


In today’s world of music education, old-fashioned, lecture-based music appreciation and general music classes lack relevance for students and, frankly, just don’t cut it anymore. Regardless of prior music education, or lack of thereof, students have access to sophisticated music software, which is either free or inexpensive, and they are already composing their own music. All students can have meaningful hands-on applied learning experiences that will impact not only their music experience and learning but also their understanding and comfort with 21st century technology.

Changing the focus of the secondary classroom, non-performing, music class allows even the most disenfranchised students a connection the school’s music community as never before. Students who never participated in making music first hand can to do so and be successful. It is even possible to take students with no music experience and successfully prepare them to be music majors in college.

Technology allows a musical experience for all skill levels—an opportunity never before available to compose music without having to know much about traditional music theory or notation. We are now faced with a new challenge in music education, to re-prioritize what skills need to be taught in order to foster music composition, given the available music technology. As music educators, we understand that there is and always will be a need to teach students the basic elements of music and music composition if our students are to create sophisticated music. The question is: What are the necessary skills and how do we best deliver those skills given the technology available?

This presentation will examine aspects of a curriculum that teaches composition and theory skills for beginning students to be successful composers and creators of music. Although GarageBand and Logic Pro will be demonstrated, any sequencing or music notation software can be used. Techniques on use of the software, lesson plans on composition and theory skills, techniques for weaving in music history and how to integrate music of other cultures will be discussed. All highlighted with examples of student compositions.

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