The Other 80% Music Home

Where did the "Other 80%" come from?

When I began to investigate this topic around 2003, anecdotal estimates of the percentage of students not enrolled in traditional performing ensembles varied from 60 to 95%.  MENC indicated they did not have data to confirm this.  As a graduate research project, Nathan Edwards (Tremont J.H.S, Illinois), attempted to gather "heads data" from State education offices.  Based on those data, the average percent of non-performers reported was 82% out of some 8 million students. 

For much more extensive data validating the 80% figure refer to the D.B. Williams (2012) research study noted on the Research page of this site, published in the JTME journal.

Music Creativity Through Technology is dedicated to music educators working with the "Other 80%" of students in our schools who do not participate in the traditional performing ensembles and music classes. With the latest tools in music technology, these educators are finding ways to unleash the creative potential of many of these students.

The release of GarageBand in 2004 was as significant for music education as the release of the first Macintosh computers in 1984 with Professional Composer notation software along with personal laser printers and Postscript printing of music notation.  Both events helped to democratize a music process previously reserved for the professional:  the former, music publishing, the most recent, music composition.  GarageBand and similar music technology tools empowered anyone, young and old, to create music using their ear as their guide, by shaping their expression through easy manipulation of high quality loops, audio snippets, sounds samples, along with adding the creative potential through live recording with USB keyboards, mics, guitars, and other devices.

The impact that GarageBand had can be seen in the overnight emergence of virtual composers sharing their GarageBand creations on the web and reaching out for comment and guidance.  As a music educator, I found this especially exciting as it renewed my interest in finding ways to reach those students in our schools that drop out of the traditional music programs as they progress up through the grades, the traditional programs where more and more emphasis is place on traditional performing ensembles and performance expertise of selected repertoire (see D.B. Williams, 2012).  Through lectures, presentations and keynotes, and the work of my graduate students, I began to focus on what I termed the "non-traditional music student (NTMs)," the other 80 percent of students in our school programs that are disenfranchised from music education in one way or another.  Time and time again, I have been approached by music teachers wanting to share their success stories reaching out to these students in innovative ways.  Hence the genesis of our NTM website.

Dr. Rick Dammers of Rowan University has taken a keen interest as well in this population and has kindly agreed to collaborate in creating this website as a repository for gathering research, publications, and more importantly, profiles of teachers who are using music technology in creative ways to reach out to non-traditional music students (NTMs).   On this home page you will find our respective position statements on our personal campaign for "the other 80%" as well as a working set of attributes that attempt to define the non-traditional student.  

We welcome additions to either the Research or Articles and Presentations page and strongly encourage submission to our Profiles in Action.

David Brian Williams
Emeritus Professor of Music and Arts Technology
Illinois State University


Developments in music technology offer the opportunity to establish a new strand of music classes in middle and high schools to stand alongside existing bands, orchestras, and choirs.  This new branch of music classes is needed to bolster efforts to reach the ‘other 80%’ of students who do not participate in performance-based classes. From my experiences in developing such a class, and from discussions with colleagues around the country, I believe these classes are in high demand, rewarding to teach, and can effectively extend the reach of music education in our country.  Reaching the ‘other 80%’ is essential for preparing a citizenry which can fully participate in the musical and cultural life of our country.           

By collecting resources and examples, this site is designed to support the development of technology-based music classes at the middle and high school level. Please share your experiences and expertise with us, and check back often for updates to the site.

Rick Dammers
Assistant Professor of Music Education 
Rowan University
Music Technology Leadership Academy

All original materials on site are Copyright © 2009-2021  by David Brian Williams & Rick Dammers.  All rights reserved. 
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