2010 ASMTA Conference – Practical Technology Tools in the Music Studio – Jennifer Foxx

Guest post by Jennifer Foxx

I had the opportunity to do an encore presentation this year at the state conference on a topic that I enjoy. I think for some teachers, when they hear the word technology they panic, thinking it’s way too complicated or they just have no desire to be a part of it. My goal with this presentation was to show that technology does not have to be complicated. I first shared some of the simple technology tools that teachers can use in the studio and probably already use, whether in the studio or just at home.

Some basic technology tools would be: Computer (doesn’t matter if it’s a desktop or laptop), Audio tool (CD Player, iPod, MP3, etc.), Digital Recorder (this can also be your smartphone), Video Camera (I love my FLIP!), DVD Player/DVD’s (this can also just be the DVD drive from your computer), Midi Keyboards (at least 61 keys), and Printer (I recommend an all-in-one model).

Then I went into creating a music lab, but for those teachers that didn’t have a lab they could still apply some of these ideas in their studio.

Benefits of a Music Lab-

  • Allows students to drill and follow up with what they are learning in the lesson. Such basics as note names, intervals, chords, terms, symbols, key signatures, ear training, and much more.
  • A music lab is a good selling point to parents looking to give their children as well-rounded a musical education as possible.
  • Having a music lab can serve as additional income, if a lab fee is charged. I would recommend including your lab fee with your lesson tuition and not making it optional. Another idea is to have a yearly lab fee when students register.

Setting-Up (You do not need a separate lab room in order to set up a music lab.)

  • Possible setup – one computer, specific assignments, MIDI keyboard, network for Internet and simple technology tools listed previously.
  • Make sure the student at the piano can’t see the computer monitor, or they will be distracted.
  • Having a separate computer for the studio is ideal. However, you can set up a user just for your studio.
  • A good set of headphones is absolutely essential. I like the big headphones that cup over the students ears.
  • Remember, you do not need to go out and buy everything at once. Start small and build. Don’t have a computer you can use for your music lab and/or can’t afford to buy one yet? Start with the other simple technology tools.

Scheduling Options

  • Students come 15-30 min. before their lesson or stay 15-30 after their lesson. While you are teaching one student, another student is working in the lab.
  • Rotating – Students rotate every 20-30 min. within an hour/hour and a half. (ie: Student 1 works on computer, Student 2 works on keyboard or writing station, Student 3 works with Teacher, then rotate).

Music Lab Subject Ideas

  • Composer/Music History
  • Composition/Improvisation
  • Ear Training
  • Note Reading
  • Rhythm
  • Sight-Reading
  • Theory
  • Creativity and More!

Suggested Resource Materials

  • Studio Makeover Technology Addition (Michelle Gordon/Michelle Sisler- www.ImaginationisKey.com)
  • Electrify Your Studio (Sandra Bowen/FJH Music)
  • The Well-Tempered Lesson Plan (Renee Lacey/Trail Creek Systems- TrailCreekSystems.com- see other products)

In addition to tons and tons of internet resources that are out there you can use with your students, here are some sample ideas of books/workbooks to use during lab time:

Lab Log

Double Click Curriculum (see www.KeystoImagination.com – these are great student log books that have most of the prep work done for you for your computer lab!)

Theory Fun

TCW Theory books

Dot to Dot Note Speller (Bastien)

Color by…Interval, Note Monsters, etc. (Alfred)


Finger Builders (Pace)

Keys to Success (FJH)

Nate’s Piano Plates (Major, Minor, and Harmonic scales)


Discover Blues Improvisation (FJH)

Discover Beginning Improvisation (FJH)

Pattern Play (Frederick Harris Music)


Folk Songs and Fun Songs – Fake Book for the beginning student (Jane H. Calder)


Music by Me (FJH)

Young Composers Notebook (Frederick Harris Music)

Ear Training-

Ear Training Books with CD (Alfred)

*This is just a sample of books out there; there is soooo much out there that you can use during lab time!

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