Music Technology Philosophy
I have a vested interest in teaching, but it comes with the act of critiquing, questioning, dialoguing, and debating the purpose for my philosophy of education (Silverman, 2014). My philosophy for education suggests a praxial approach to music technology and a method of Technology Based Music Instruction –TBMI (Dorfman, 2013). A praxial approach is intended to convey the idea that "music" pivots on human doing-and making concepts that are purposeful, contextual and socially embedded. However, Westerlund (2003) suggested that another approach, aestheticism, is “not equal to knowledge and problem solving”, but better defined as an experience (p. 53). Instead, it is my belief that I must give hands-on, human doing and making, (practice) activities to assess student progress, and not assume that students can be assessed by “experiencing” music (Elliott, 2005). Therefore, I must develop a “tenable and praxial concept of music which presupposes clarification and elaboration of the notions” needed for a course (Panaiotidi, 2003, p. 86). I reject other philosophies as my basis for music technology because I believe the most important aspect for learning course material is completed by applying content matter to "doing", and "exploring" the purpose for music and technology (Apple, 2014; Dorfman, 2013; Elliott, 2005; Frankle, 2011; Freire, 2000).
I aim to educate students by integrating theory and practice into music and technology. The advancements of technology with controlled pitches and music making requires more than the exploration of pitch to pitch control, but also the integration of digitized effect practice that includes: pitch delay, reverse delay, and the interactivity of computer versus person (Dobrian, 2005; Senior, 2011). For example, students of a music technology and production course must be able to analyze computer programmed instruments while incorporating artistic thoughts. Music is the only subject, where “pure contemplation is possible” (Tuksar, 1971, p. 79). The constant advancements in technology, on the other hand, limits pure contemplation of artistic thought (Dittmar, 2011). As a result, I treat music and technology with a goal of developing artistic expectations for musical creations. It must be done by giving students opportunities to practice applying technology to musical creation (Dorfman, 2013; Elliott, 2005). For example, a band student must incorporate the instrument “into the body”, whereas a music technology student must incorporate musical thought “into the computer” (Broadhurst, 2014, p. 225). Technology (computer) acts as the virtual body, into which, students become more than a robot creating music. Instead, the computer becomes part of the body, acting as a musical instrument. Music technology assignments require methods of thought that force students to use musical thought for practice including musical interpretation, cultural ideological information, and the promotion of “high quality” musicianship due to action-guided assessment (Elliott, 2005).
I ask students to practice creating music with computer software while critically responding to music through active listening, transferring knowledge to composition and arranging, while gaining an appreciation for modern tools while creating “art” (Watson, 2011). According to Elliott, music involves more than critically thinking about music, but also “practice” that results in “actions and outcomes” when creating music (What Does Praxial Mean section, n.d., para. 3). Music and technology is designed to develop skills in understanding music, as art, through songwriting, composition, and production by exploring the music of many generations, genres, and cultures. Music is a diverse human practice where the act of music making creates a rich and meaningful experience, regardless of culture (Elliott, 2010). As a result, I suggest a praxial philosophy for music technology so students will actively be applying “music-making” skills to content material (Elliott, 2005; Dorfman, 2013).
As previously mentioned, I DO suggest a praxial philosophy for Music Technology, but I do not discount the value of other educational philosophies and teaching strategies (Apple, 2000; Elliott, 2005; Jorgensen, 2014). Jay Dorfman (2013) presented the idea for Technology-Based Music Instruction or TBMI, a pedagogical approach that suggests technology is applied to music, instead of music being applied to technology. I find it important to know and understand existing philosophies and teaching strategies, then further develop them into our own. By applying a TBMI method, I relate technological and pedagogical content to course material (Dorfman, 2013; Mishra & Koehler, 2006; Shulman, 1986). For example, praxialism is employed for humans to recognize “subjectivity and individuality as both a means and as an end of becoming fully rational”, but in TBMI, teachers often label the “types” of students they teach and the successes of those students (Regelski, 2002, p. 8). I also consider individuality to be important in curriculum development, and take into consideration the need for consistency and sequential instruction when working with special needs students (DeVito, 2011).
The curriculum for a music technology course needs to be treated by applying a praxial approach with the goal of developing students as critical thinkers (Regelski, 2002). However, Jorgensen (2005) suggested that none of the four philosophical models of relationship between theory and practice are without flaws or limitations. My suggestion for a TBMI method will account for the study “of all kinds of music” while primarily focusing on one philosophy, praxialism (Regelski, 2003, p. 20). I propose for praxial (practice) skills to be applied by creating digitized music, and the skills to be advanced by having music technology as more than practice; it must be relevant to students’ lives (Dorfman, 2013; Elliott, 2005). In doing so, students will be able to apply their musical skills while utilizing technology for engaging, empowering, differentiating, and enhancing project based learning (Shank, 2011, p. 831).
For more information about Integrating Technology into your Music classroom, I suggest reading Jay Dorfman's book, Technology Based Music Instruction. For more information about a Praxial Philosophy, I suggest reading David Elliott's book, Music Matters.
Ti:ME Lesson Plans- Technology in Music Education
Below is an example of a Group Project that was completed during my time with Boston University. In this paper, my group critiqued applications from the website, "The Music Interactive".