by TOM IRWIN
As part of the UIS Liberal and Integrative Studies graduate program, each LNT/LIS student is required to make then take an independent study course within their field of study. In my master’s degree proposal, Studies in Music and Words, I listed learning modern music technologies and developing teaching skills as goals to achieve in my learning needs statement. Dr. Sharon Graf, as one of my academic committee advisors, suggested I take a dual role in Introduction to Music Technology (MUS 181, Spring 2009) as student and instructor, making the project my required LNT 599 Independent Study.
It was a wonderful idea that fit well into my master’s program and overall educational goals. Professor Brian Pryor, the class instructor, as well as a personal friend and fellow musical collaborator of many years, shared his knowledge ofteaching and music technology by graciously working with me on various levels of learning, from developing basic skills of computer recording to coping with student and classroom issues.
The course is an entertaining and educational look at the basic offerings involved in contemporary music software, including MIDI use, digital music file manipulation, transferring printed musical scores into the digital realm, and the concept of a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Also included is an overview of recording history, song analyzing, copyright information, and learning the terminology of music technology.
During the process of learning to use the software, students created original projects by applying creativity to technology resulting in some fun, imaginative works that added the entertaining aspect to the experience. Seeing the students get a real kick from presenting their own compositions to class speaks volumes of the course design and the success of a curriculum that combines fun and learning.
Brian and I shared musical moments in the classroom by playing our respective instruments for the students to demonstrate recording processes and other technological uses of available music software. At Dr. Graf’s suggestion, I wrote and gave a presentation on my experiences and beliefs in creative songwriting to aid the students in developing their original compositions. A few weeks ago I began to construct my first DAW using my classroom experiences to guide the way.
Overall I’d say we had a good time and learned a lot which, in my book, is the way an education ought to be. Many thanks are extended to Dr. Graf, Brian Pryor and the UIS music department for an inspiring and edifying experience.