Friday, October 21, 2011

Music Technology and Children

Lately, I have been grappling with how I want to teach music technology to children, and now that I have had a few weeks to contemplate another training technique, I am excited! It all began with FAO Schwarz in New York City. This toy store is always a popular attraction with tourists, and one reason why is because many people want to take a walk on the life-size piano keyboard. Google search “walk-on” piano, and one will see several photos of customers stepping on lit keys that play pitches. Although this may sound a bit extreme, how lovely would it be to have that in an elementary, middle school, junior high school, and high school classroom? Do you think the interest to learn music theory would spike? I do, and I am speaking as a college student.

Obviously, FAO Schwarz would need to create a classroom model of the keyboard, but just imagine the piano being cabled into a television or computer monitor. The lesson of the day? Learning Intervals. The instructor asks the student to touch the first key in a pre-determined perfect fourth interval. He or she then asks another student to complete the fourth by striking the corresponding key. If the students complete the interval sounds with the right key pitches, the music plays. If not, a buzz sound results, which would imply that the answer is incorrect. The keyboard would know that the answer is incorrect because the instructor would plug the perfect fourth sound equation into the software system before the children attempt to play it. 

The monitor would also be useful because as the children determine right and wrong answers, their bodies and faces would be shown on the screen, stepping on the keys. For visual learners like myself, I would be able to gain a better understanding of the material because I could associate certain people with certain intervals being played. This keyboard would also appeal to kinesthetic learners because they would no longer have to digest music theory in their minds. The remainder of their bodies would be instrumental in learning music theory objectives. This gives a whole new meaning to the term muscle memory!