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Music and Tech: What We Don’t Hear

Anastasia Thumser

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Bedford promotes the arts by holding school concerts, special performances and art galleries for parents and students alike to browse. However, many students wonder why music technology is never a part of these events. On May 3, when Bedford students and staff members gathered to watch the annual spring concert, this question became especially apparent. While listening to the groups’ performances, some students wondered why music technology students wouldn’t be making an appearance.

Ms. Susan Marnell, the conductor of Bedford’s eighth grade chorus and Camerata, as well as the music technology teacher, had an answer.

The orchestra, band and chorus devote their time to working on various compositions throughout the year. Ms. Marnell explains that in music technology, students are the composers themselves. Using technology, they create unique pieces and experiment with different sounds.

“We have a lab that has 30 working computers, those are Mac desktops. They all have a piano keyboard attached. We also have an Apple remote desktop, which means that I cannot only listen to their project, but I can see their project on the computer. With this technology, students learn composition and music theory,” says Ms. Marnell.

She also explains that even though music technology students create music through devices, they still have to kindle an understanding of dynamics, rhythm and tempo in order to create projects that have a catchy beat and a pleasing sound to the ear.

“I love watching what students are able to come up with! For example, the two projects that we were able to put in the art show, Windows XP and Sporty Beat – Song With Sports Sounds, had to record different sounds of a theme of items or a single item.” says Ms. Marnell.

Those projects were created by two groups of eighth grade students and were held at the Bedford Art Show on May 15. They were made by merging multiple tracks of sounds, such as jingles from the Windows software or whistles from referees, into one track that blended the sounds synonymously.

Teresa Shahin, an eighth grader who was one of the creators of Windows XP, enjoys music technology because it’s a fun, interesting way to learn about music. “One thing I really like about music technology is how much you learn and what you learn in such a short period of time. For example, this year, I learned basic piano along with the actual math and word definitions of music and beats. I also learned how to use GarageBand, which I didn’t know how to use before.”

While Ms. Marnell finds it unfortunate that music technology students don’t get more opportunities to show their projects, she agrees that keeping them separated from school concerts is for the best.

“When an ensemble plays, they all play together,” says Ms. Marnell.

“The question is: how do we decide what projects to show, and what people to perform them? It is hard for every student to perform because everyone does individual projects.”

She also adds that music technology’s lack of performance in the school concert isn’t a matter of fairness, but rather a matter of differentiation within music. “An ensemble student is a performer, while a music technology student is a creator.”

 

 

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