10 June 2013

Guest Blog: Agnes Abel - Why computer-aided learning has become essential in music education?

Agnes Abel is a flute teacher and orchestral musician besides working with customer support for MusicalEar a unique software for ear training and music theory

Today’s music students have a vast selection of tools at their fingertips to help them advance in their studies. Starting from YouTube videos, where they can watch many different performances of the pieces they are learning, through self-recording tools to record and evaluate their playing, to play-along music files, music-making platforms and software for ear training such as MusicalEar.

You might say that music geniuses in the past have all accomplished lasting achievements without using any of the above listed tools. But is it because they didn’t need them or rather because they were not available? In pre-computer times all what was available to an aspiring young musician was lessons from trustworthy professors and of course - practice. Plus books and recordings for the lucky/more interested ones.

It is perfectly true that even computer-aided learning tools will not replace musical talent but they will indeed support musical talent to unfold and develop.

It is also true that every music student needs one or more influential teachers to guide him/her on the path of music, but computer-aided learning tools are like magnifying lenses: they increase the efficiency of the lessons with a teacher by enabling students to prepare better for the lessons and help them to acquire and deepen the new learning and skills which are introduced in the lesson.

Online tools and software help the work of music teachers as well. If teachers can assign exercises and homework for the students to do on their own, then they can use the lessons more efficiently for work, which needs more active interaction, feedback, guidance and explanations from the teacher.

Besides this, computer-aided learning tools do enforce many useful skills: setting goals, perseverance, self-judgment, autonomy…

The musicians’ world is getting more and more diversified, the new generations of musicians need to be more and more flexible in adapting the necessary skills for their career. The choice of careers open to students with an interest in music is wide: they can not only become orchestral musicians or music teachers, but also studio recording professionals, arts managers, event organizers, music trade business entrepreneurs etc. Computers play a vital role in every profession in our times and using computer-based tools in music education also help students build important computer skills.

Computer-aided learning tools also offers a cost efficient alternative to expensive private lessons. Regular private coaching is inaccessible to many young and not-so-young people who intend to study music. Not only due to the high price of the personal lessons but also due to travel distances/costs, scheduling difficulties. A computer-aided learning tool, such as a well-designed software can be used from anywhere at anytime and will help a user study, practice and develop on his own pace.

Computers and the Internet help us experience new musical influences, which we might otherwise never encounter in the geographical/cultural environment we live in. These might be new musical styles, genres, new concepts, ideas, approaches… In our times music education is also becoming more and more globalized, thanks to which, music students, teachers and musicians can connect with each other from all around the world to share thoughts and best practices. Music students have an unlimited choice of instruments, genres and styles to choose from to find their own musical path. Computer-aided music learning tools create opportunities for music students all around the world to develop their music skills and realize their dreams in an efficient and fun way.

 Agnes Abel, June 2013

Any feedback or comments to the author: agnes.abel@musicalear.se

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