Tips for Using Technology in Your Classroom

MENC member Hal Peterson offers some tips for incorporating technology into music activities:

Music Listening Activities

  • Have students use the Internet to research composers and compositions. Lead a class discussion on what information is most important and pertinent and how to put it into their own words.
  • Have students make PowerPoint presentations about music literature, instruments, or composers, with audio examples. Combining pictures, sounds, and information makes for effective study tools and oral presentations.
  • Make customized copies of your music collection to use in the classroom. Use purchased CDs or downloads to build a music library on your computer. Then either burn a “teaching mix” CD or connect your MP3 player to your classroom stereo system for an audio library at your fingertips.
  • Use computer audio-playback software to present excerpts (noting the timings to pinpoint an exact spot on any CD) or use PowerPoint to create playback clips. Great for listening quizzes and tests. Use text, music excerpts, listening maps, or other graphics and pictures, or export music graphics from notation software.
  • Be aware of copyright laws governing fair use. See copyright resources below.

Music Fundamentals Activities

  • Use drill and training software for teaching note reading, scales, intervals, and chords. Use a variety of programs to strengthen reinforcement and avoid boredom. Motivate students by giving simple prizes to the highest scores.
  • Have students use a MIDI interface whenever possible to transfer skills to learning the keyboard.
  • Use music fundamentals software for independent study if you have more students than workstations.

Electronic Music Activities

  • Sequencing software is good for teaching improvisation and for performance practice.
  • Notation software helps teach composition and show students how to extract and edit parts.
  • Digital audio software is good for teaching sound synthesis and composition by ear without notation.
  • Postproduction units can teach students about panning and balancing the sounds in their sequences and troubleshooting mistakes.
  • Sequencing software will also allow you to mix and burn audio CDs of student work. Peterson says, “What could be a more powerful endorsement of using technology in education than students walking out of your classroom with a CD of their work in music?”

This article was adapted from “Technology Tips and Tricks for Music Educators” by Hal Peterson in General Music Today (Spring 2006).

Hal Peterson is the digital media lab instructor at Leland High School in San Jose, California.

—Linda C. Brown, October 7, 2009, © National Association for Music Education (