Education today is in a constant state of flux. With new technologies, apps, updates, and software being developed 24/7, I’m often concerned as to whether or not teachers are able to keep up. Regardless, the only thing we can do is try, and try we do. Technology-assisted learning is a recent development that is rapidly gaining speed; colleges and universities the world over are making courses and entire degrees available online. As educators in music technology, we have to be able to adapt to fit the times.
With programs like SmartMusic, Auralia, MacGamut, and others on the market, it is now possible for music teachers to monitor and give feedback on their students’ practice away from lessons. Students no longer need to wait to hear their instructors’ comments or suggestions. Many of the programs offer immediate, computer-generated feedback, and can easily replace a fellow student musician who might not always be available.
As far as computer accompaniment and practice tools go, Band-in-a-Box is one of the more popular software options out there. The program allows the user to a input a certain musical style (ex. smooth jazz, bebop, reggae, fusion, etc.) and chord symbols and receive a computer generated backing band for immediate practice. Smartphone apps are available as well, with iRealB offering a similar service to users on the go.
If you are seeking online resources for teaching, cloud versions of Auralia and other instructional software programs are available with discounted student licenses. For the budget-conscious, open-source software and freely accessible databases or lessons are available as well: YouTube, musictheory.net, teoria.com, and dolmetsch.com are great resources for learning about all sorts of music topics.