Peoria Notre Dame High School (Peoria, IL)

  • Instructor:  Wendy Strauss
  • Location: Peoria, IL
  • School Profile: Non-public Catholic
  • Class Title(s): Music Technology
  • Grades Levels Included: 9-12
  • Structure of NTM Class(es): Classes are daily, for 65 minutes each.  Course is open to students in grades 9-12.  All classes in our school are on a rotating schedule, with 5 out of 5 classes each day.  The school year is divided into trimesters to allow students to take more electives. The class takes place in our shared music room.  Students sit at tables with their own laptops and school-owned MIDI controllers.
  • Software Used: PowerPoint, GarageBand, iMovie, Audacity, MuseScore, NoteFlight, Musition, Aviary (before music editing was discontinued), Band in a Box, Virtual DJ and numerous other free online software apps.  There is a list of links to free online apps on our website.  We use Google Docs and Google Forms for group work and critiques.
  • Hardware Used: MacBook/MacBook Pro, Alesis Q-25 MIDI Controllers, speakers, projector/screen, SmartBoard--All students have MacBooks.

  • Class NTM Activities:  This is a beginning class, so the activities consist of mostly small projects.  The class is nearly paperless, and most of the activities are projects, including the final "exam". Most of the projects are individual, but there are a few group projects. There is a grading rubric for each project, which is posted on the class website. Some examples of projects are: A slideshow of the history of music technology; an enhanced podcast (GarageBand) about a new piece of music technology; a mashup of two songs; removing a verse from a song; "Radio DJ" project featuring sections of four songs, with DJ banter; works cited pages for all sources, for all projects; adding sound effects to a video; creating their own movie and movie "score"; and using GarageBand or Audacity and iMovie. 

    The class is very informal--students are like family members to us.  Many of the projects they produce are creative and entertaining.  Students who normally despise school tend to enjoy classes like music technology. All projects have critique sessions.  Students learn to give constructive criticism by naming specific factors which could be changed to make improvements, and to give praise where and when it is due. Although this is not a music theory class, we give an introduction to standard notation with the help of notation programs such as MuseScore, NoteFlight or Finale Notepad.

  • History:  Our school is a 1:1 laptop school as of  the fall of 2010.  The year before, I was asked to teach a required course, "Intermediate Technology Applications".  I enjoyed it so much that, when asked if we had any new course proposals, suggested Music Technology. Our first class had 15 students; it has grown a bit since then. Originally, Amanda Connon, our band director, and I, team-taught the class. This year, the class is being taught by Amanda, while I teach Int. Tech Apps., Music Theory (3 levels) and choirs.  I hope to return to teaching this course in the future. Our class website:  https://sites.google.com/a/pndhs.org/pnd-music-tech

  • Success Stories from NTM Activities: We were chosen to be presenters at ILMEC! A student from our first class (my daughter!) was accepted into the Arts Technology program at Illinois State University. Several other students are pursuing studies in the arts and/or technology. I am currently preparing curriculum for Music Technology II, and just finished preparing a new course that I will be teaching next year: Effective Presentations...more on that as it develops. In our school, we use technology as a tool for creating projects that demonstrate the understanding of objectives.  Students in the arts and technology classes use technology as a tool for creating electronic projects that develop their own creativity. I have a student in my (required) Intermediate Technology applications class who didn't do much in class...until he discovered that you can create dubstep in GarageBand!  A great alternative to the Works Cited page:  Use all your own original material! (I make them cite it anyway).

  • Advice to Others Starting NTM Project: Plan, plan, plan, and then expect to make unexpected changes! If a project fails, move on to the next one and revise for the next time. Don't be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Have fun with the project of creating a new class! Try out some projects in other music classes the year before the music technology class is posted.

  • Additional Comments:  Amanda Connon and I are presenting a clinic at the Illinois Music Educators Conference in Peoria.  We have a slide presentation and a handout about how we created this class on a small budget. Some of our students are fairly accomplished musicians and/or "techies"; others are just students who needed a fine arts credit, or students who thought it would be fun.  Some are in the top of their class, others are struggling academically, have special needs or are "garage band" musicians (guitar, drums, ukelele, etc.). Another new class we have this year is the Music Business class!  

  • Date Submitted: January 2013
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