I have had the privilege of teaching All-Level music
in the state of Texas. I taught pre-K through 12th grade
in a small school district. I used music technology
on a daily schedule in all of my classes.
While I was student teaching I was surprised that very
little technology was used in the classroom. Every music
classroom in the state of Texas should have a computer
connected to the internet. All of the budgets have been
cut in public school with usually one exception, computers
In my opinion, the piece of music technology that would
help 90% of elementary music educators is the MIDI Sequencer.
You could use the MIDI Sequencer every day in your classroom.
Here are some guidelines to help you use this piece
of music technology.
Here are a few popular Sequencing Software programs:
Master Traks www.gvox.com
How to use Sequencers in your Music Classroom
There are three great examples which every music teacher
can use MIDI Sequencers in their classroom: Accompanying,
CAI (Computer Assisted Instruction) and Composition.
Sequencers & Accompanying
Every elementary teacher has music programs or
pageants to present. You can record the program on
a MIDI Sequencer. Then you can play it back for rehearsals
and the performance. You could also make a tape recording
for your students to practice at home.
If you are using a piano accompaniment, you can add
other sounds when you record it for a program. You
can also add other instruments like percussion or
sound effects to spice up the accompaniment.
If you are using a composition that is well known,
it will be on the internet as a MIDI file. You can
download the MIDI file of this song and use it for
If you have some piano skills you can record it yourself
instead of paying someone else to play for you.
is a MIDI Sequencer?
A MIDI Sequencer records MIDI data. This MIDI data
tells other equipment to turn on and off musical performance
instructions. When you play a note on a MIDI keyboard,
you are instructing the MIDI keyboard to play a note
for a period of time and also how soft or loud that
note will sound. The MIDI Sequencer will record and
play back this data. The great thing about it is that
most MIDI Sequencers will record more than one track.
analogy is a 4 Track Tape Recorder. Unlike a Multi-track
recorder a MIDI Sequencer has an unlimited number
of tracks that can be recorded on. Some MIDI Sequencers
have as few as 2 tracks, most have at least 16 tracks.
Some can have 1000+ tracks depending on the amount
of memory your computer has. I do not think that anyone
would need more than 32 tracks to record 99% of most
a MIDI Sequencer Works
A MIDI Sequencer records performance data not sound.
This is why MIDI files are small. Think of a MIDI
file as a player piano roll. The roll without the
player piano is of little use. The player piano without
the piano roll is also of little use. Both of them
together can make beautiful music together.
play middle C on the keyboard the "piano roll"
reads :Note on C3. When you stop playing middle C
note the "piano roll" reads : Note off C3.
All of this data is converted to 1's and 0's faster
than a blink of an eye.
Piano Player, That's OK!
If you should have spent more time studying in class
piano you can still make music on a MIDI Sequencer.
You can play as fast or as slow as you want on a MIDI
Sequencer. That is right, if you can not play something
at 120 bpm you could play it in at 60 bpm then you
can change the tempo back to actual tempo.
also play one hand at a time. Then you can combine
the tracks together. You could also play both parts
with either your right or left hand, whichever one
you are strongest with on the piano.
still do not want to play piano there are other MIDI
controllers like : Guitar, Wind and Percussion MIDI
There are many advantages that a MIDI Sequencer has
over a standard CD player. A MIDI Sequencer can cut
out parts from a sequence, it can change tempo, it
can transpose parts, it can change instruments, it
can add or take out sections of music and it can record
your own music for a program or concert. You can not
do any of these on a standard CD player.
& CAI (Computer Assisted Instruction)
You can teach form using a MIDI Sequencer. If you
wanted to teach rondo form you could have one student
play an A section then have another student record
a B section then you could copy and paste the A section
after the B section.
Sequencer can help you teach aural skills. You can
record scales, intervals and chords in the MIDI Sequencer.
You could copy and paste any of these a have a virtual
aural skills teacher play them back for your class
or with headphones for an advance student.
When I taught elementary music I had a unit on composition.
One of the best ways to teach composition is to improvise.
I used a MIDI keyboard connected to my computer sequencer.
I would teach my students how to use the "black
notes" of a piano to play a pentatonic scale.
I was amazed how well my students "composed"
music. We all would listen to one another's composition
and make constructive comments on them. Then we would
talk about the elements that made a composition sound
better. This was a great section for my students.
I would also do a similar section on drum and percussion
composition. The students would love when we did this
MIDI Files and GM (General MIDI)
The Internet has thousand's and thousand's of MIDI
files for you to download. Many of these files are
"Classical' and "Folk Tunes" which
you can use for your programs. Most of these MIDI
files are GM MIDI files. GM (General MIDI) means that
the sounds are standardized so that you do not have
to program each sound yourself.
I hope that this guide will help inspire you to use
music technology in your classroom.