I’ll start with a caveat—I’m not any sort of technical guru, but I have been able to utilize technology in private lesson instruction and in music classrooms. The simplest reason as to “why” I use technology is for student self-assessment. Unless student musicians hear themselves, they don’t know what they really sound like. I tell my kids, “The recording never lies”, meaning you may think you sound great (or awful) but what you hear is what really happened.

Most of the time I use GarageBand to record with. There a lot of other options for recording but my school and home are Mac-run, so it’s an easy choice. At school, I sometimes give students a rubric to provide structure to the self-assessment: students score elements such as rhythm, tone quality, and steady tempo before we discuss and in my private studio I just talk with the student about what we heard. “How did that sound to you?”, “What did you notice about your upper register?”, or “What would be the steps to take for making your performance better?” are guided questions I use.

Student recordings are also great for providing benchmarks for progress. “See how you sounded 6 months ago? Wow, you’ve gotten so much better!” or in communicating with parents, “This is what your student recorded in class the other day, notice how they’ve been progressing on…” I also use recordings as playing tests. It is much more beneficial to have students all actively engaged recording, listening, assessing, and re-recording themselves in class for a grade, than going through an entire class cajoling or threatening all the students to stay completely silent while others are testing. This is what I’ve found to be beneficial. Let me know what you think!

Music + Technology = Better Practice, Part 2