– Internet Pages:
The capability of authoring and maintaining internet sites as music educators cannot be understated. It is standard practice for schools of any level to ask their teachers to provide a biography and other information for their individual page. Music teachers, usually grouped education as their own special brand of liberal arts, must be able to update music department websites for a host of professional reasons: parents want to see what their children are up to and access recordings, board members and superintendents would like to check up on the music department to make sure the funding is really worth it… the list goes on.
There are a number of websites out there that make it easy and entirely feasible for teachers to do this for free. WordPress, the site hosting this very blog, offers more than enough features for an average teacher’s needs without any price tag attached. Tumblr is another option, albeit with a somewhat less professional public image.
Presentations are an integral part of the educational profession. If you aren’t already familiar building or using digital presentations, the bad news is that you absolutely must become acquainted, and fast. The good news is, whether you’re running OS X or Windows, presentations are easy to make no matter what the system. Microsoft runs discounts for educators regularly, and Powerpoint is usually licensed at most schools on multiple computers. Apple recently made its newest iteration of the iWork series (which includes Keynote, the Mac equivalent of Powerpoint), free and available to any consumers who register a new Apple device.
While capturing and editing movies may seem like a big undertaking, there are plenty of apps and ways to do it without too much fuss. With Mac OS X, Quicktime Player comes as part of the bundle; simply open the application, select File, choose New Screen Recording, and presto! Post-production editing is a breeze in iLife’s iMovie. With a little work, you can make a quality screen-cast of detailed instructions, application advice, or anything educational in no time.
Digital Image Capturing
Digital image capturing is even easier than screen-casting. Music educators can use hot-keys, or shortcuts on the keyboard, to take pictures of their computer screen. On OS X, command – shift – 4 will bring up the cursor for taking focused screenshots, while command – shift – 3 will take a shot of your entire screenshot. On Windows, pressing the prntscrn, alt – prntscrn, or Windows logo – prntscrn hotkey will usually place a screenshot on your copy function or save a screenshot in your screenshots folder; be sure to check your system’s manual, or google the appropriate directions, if you have trouble with either system.
Music technology educators must also be familiar with the various digital storage mediums and their methods of transferral. Digital cameras usually use some sort of SD card, and smartphones store their media either in the cloud or internally. Whether you can only transfer pictures via an SD card slot, or you have them freely available on a web-based picture hosting service, there are many ways to get your pictures where you want them to be. It is up to us to become comfortable with all of those methods, and to remain open to whatever new pathways technology will open for us tomorrow.
There are many free and paid services out there for cloud-based storage. Most providers offer a fixed introductory capacity for new members, usually two to five gigabytes in size. Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, Amazon Cloud Storage, SugarSync, and Microsoft SkyDrive are among the most popular services, with some offering over five gigabytes for free to new members.
A portfolio is an essential part of any artist’s toolkit, and more often than not the deciding factor in an interview. Like a oil painter may carry examples of his or her work, the musician or music educator must have a stock of samples to draw upon whenever the situation may call for it. The modern music technologist, or savvy musician, knows how to store their portfolio electronically for ease of access and universal availability. With the application of any of the cloud-based storage mediums mentioned above, musicians can easily and safely store their work for easy retrieval at any time. In addition to traditional cloud storage sites, music educators can and should use multimedia hosting sites to save on storage space.
Instead of storing a video directly classroom or department blog, you can usually use a link and achieve the same effect without using any precious storage allotted to you as a new client. The Soundcloud player below is a piece I wrote for my composition class, entitled “Shannon’s Rounds.” The piece was originally for three saxophones (two altos and one tenor), and an experiment in composing through formulaic means, but I put the MIDI data into Logic Pro (a popular digital audio workstation for musicians and music producers) and rendered the piece as MIDI data through the lens of three kalimbas. Normally, this doesn’t seem like a big deal; what makes it special, however, is that I did not upload the audio file directly to WordPress. Instead, it is being played on SoundCloud’s servers, with SoundCloud’s servers – pretty neat tool for saving space!