Academic journal article Contributions to Music Education

A Survey of Technology-Based Music Classes in New Jersey High Schools

Academic journal article Contributions to Music Education

A Survey of Technology-Based Music Classes in New Jersey High Schools

Article excerpt

As music technology has developed and advanced, music classes that use technology as the primary means for instruction have emerged. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which New Jersey public high schools offer music classes that are technology-based and to describe the nature of these classes. In the first phase of the study, principals from New Jersey's public high schools (N = 309) were surveyed regarding the technology-based music offerings of their high schools. Of the respondents (n = 175), 28% indicated that their schools offered technology-based music classes. More affluent districts were found to be more likely to offer these courses. Music technology teachers (N = 56), identified by their principals, were sent a follow-up survey. Their responses (n = 36) indicated that these classes were generally taken by non-traditional music students, functioned as stand-alone courses (as opposed to a complete curricular strand), and were initiated by individual music teachers.

The music education field has been seeking to incorporate technology in music instruction for over 40 years. The calls for integration of technology within music education date back to the Tanglewood Symposium (Choate, 1968). During this time we have progressed through multiple cycles of technological advancement, with each cycle initiated by the availability of new technology (Berz & Bowman, 1994). The calls for, as well as support for, increased utilization of technology in music education have increased over the past decades (Lehman, 2000; MENC, 1999; Reese, McCord, & Walls, 2001; Reimer, 1989; Rudolph 2004; Spearman, 2000; Richmond, 2005; Williams & Webster, 2006; Williams, 2007). As technology progressed, widening pedagogical possibilities were recognized, as reflected by this pre-Internet era comment by Willman (1992):

The level of sophistication of software and hardware design ... indicates an emerging age of technology that incorporates high-quality sound and graphics as well as sophisticated interactive instruction capabilities. These capabilities are becoming accessible at affordable prices to a much wider audience than ever before. Will the curricular use of this technology reflect a coming of age that is equally mature? (p. 21)

A series of state and regional surveys have examined different aspects of this coming of age process. The findings have indicated slow but steady progress with regard to the integration of technology in music classrooms.

Music teachers have expressed a high level of interest in learning about music technology; however, the primary sources of learning have been informal, with self-study and learning from colleagues outpacing in-services and collegiate experiences (Reese & Rimmington, 2000; Reese, 2002; Dorfman, 2008). While almost all music teachers use computers, less than half use music-specific technology, and fewer still use technology to lead class activities or have their students use music technology directly (Reese, 2002; Dorfman, 2008). While technology usage by music teachers has been increasing in general (Reese, 2002), technology is more likely to be applied in the general music setting as opposed to a performance-based class (Reese, 2002; Jinright, 2003). Rates of music technology usage have also varied by geographic location within states and between states (Reese, 2002; Jinright 2003).

The gap between general technology and music technology utilization also exists in the self-perceived technology skills of undergraduate music education majors. (Meltzer, 2001). As in the K-12 setting, collegiate music education programs seem to have had a slow response to developments in music education technology. Price and Pan (2002) found that only 39% of colleges in the southeastern United States offered music technology courses specific to the music education curriculum, while 63% had plans to modify or expand their offerings.

Previous surveys have examined the integration of technology use in all forms of music classes. …

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