The 21st Century Mobile Music Studio

IMG_2462One could say I’m guilty of finding material to validate my own opinions and latest projects (am I the only one?), but, recently I ran across this Mind/Shift blog. Not surprising that it caught my eye as it is entitled “Creating is Learning.” Here’s some excerpts from the blog:

Why all this fuss about iPads and iTouches, Kindles? It’s more than just about playing with fancy toys. It’s actually changing the way kids learn.

Diana Rhoten certainly believes [this]. Rhoten is a founding partner of Startl, which recruits innovators and entrepreneurs and helps them bring digital learning products to the market. She says the future is about learner-centered technology that also happens to have the added advantage of being lighter weight and portable. And she’s on a mission to push for progress in this field right now.

Below are some quotes from Diana Rhoten’s documentary video aired Sunday, Feb. 13, on PBS:  “Digital Media – New Learners Of The 21st Century,” a look at how technology is being integrated into the learning process.

“We’re at a point where technology is easier and cheaper to build, it’s easier to use, more intuitive and more ergonomically attuned to the way kids learn. Combine the physical ease of using mobile devices with the fact that most kids (93%) are online, and 76% own them, and it’s easy to see why mobile learning is the future.”

“Demographically, there’s much more even distribution with mobile devices.”

“Mobile offers a way to close the digital divide even more so than laptops. It allows learning anywhere anytime.”

“One huge shift in the new learning process: Going from the current focus on learning content to learning tools and the skills to be the creator of remaking the content and becoming the creator and the producer.”

Click here for the entire blog and a video clip of the interview Diana Rhoten where she also provides a description of her endeavors for New Youth City Learning Network to create digitally enabled learning activities for interest-driven learning.


Absorbing all this info got me brainstorming. I’ve used technology for years to enhance my lessons as a piano teacher and have always valued this worthy assistant. It appears this assistant is not only an addition but closer to a necessity to teach today’s kids including music students. In addition, this trend, no, shift, towards technology is coupled with the emphasis on developing creators, not just reproducers, “regurgitators” (if you will) of information.

This begs the question: How does this emphasis on technology and creativity transfer to our music classrooms, studios, daily lessons, lab assignments?IMG_2120

It begins with us, the teachers–we must be

  • more than disseminators of information
  • more than interpreters from a printed page
  • aware of and at least attempting to keep up with today’s technological trends
  • invested in activities that offer interest-driven learning
  • willing to integrate digital devices into our teaching
  • creators ourselves so that we can teach creativity
  • and…the list goes on.

How does all of the above happen? It needs to start with you, the teacher,

  • embracing the things that will continue to change–music styles, music-making, instruments, globalization
  • continually learning from leading experts in the field of education–blogs, conferences, videos
  • accepting kids for where they are and plugging into their digital life–mobile devices, apps, Interent
  • building studio activities around students’ interest–pop music, video games, YouTube, social media
  • willing to take risks in teaching creativity–digital instruments, arranging, composing, improvising
  • willing to take risks in teaching creatively–exploring new avenues and shedding the “it’s always been done that way” mentality

Of course, all of the above while maintaining your high standards of making music and education credentials. Whew…easier said than done and as my tag claims: it’s not all black and white! I don’t have the answers how Diana Rhoten’s mission to push for progress in learner-centered technology translates to the music studio.  But being aware of this shift in learning and education is a good start.

As I mentioned at the beginning, Rhoten’s comments do bring validation to my latest project. If you notice, I’ve let my blogging life drop off some. For good reason, I’m pleased to announce my new book coming out soon about integrating the iPad into music lessons. It’s called The iPad Piano Studio: Keys to Unlocking the Power of Apps. Details will be released soon about pre-ordering the book, about a NEW website dedicated to this topic and more. Those who sign up for the newsletter (yes, I promise, one will be delivered soon!) will be offered a special price and even some exciting extras I’ll be announcing in the near future!

Sign up here for the newsletter.

I’m curious–I’d greatly appreciate your participation in this informal poll!

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Leila Viss

Creative Pianist, Piano Teacher, Organist, Blogger and Author of The iPad Piano Studio

8 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I’m so anxious for your book to be published! Last summer I got an iPad for my studio and started down-loading apps like mad- some from recommendations from you and other bloggers, others that I just came across on my own. This summer I really need to sort through them all and decide which are worth the time, and which should just be deleted. I tried to organize them by levels- “early childhood”, “beginners”, etc, but there’s a lot of overlaps. And of course, there’s categorizing them- note reading, ear training, rhythm, just for fun… It’s becoming quite a project!

    • Amen! Started behind the curve at the beginning of the school year. Have had an iPad mini for about 4 months and love it. I introduced as much technology as I could keep up with over the last year–apps, online games, MuseScore, and even Garage Band. I learned Garage Band to catch up with one of my students–used his interest in Garage Band to go over many principles of composition. He had 5 Garage Band compositions featured as pre-music (as people were seated) for the year-end recital. Everyone loved it! Technology is stretching us (my studio) into new areas of music and helping us have lots of fun learning theory!

      Like Kerry, I need to organize all the apps and coordinate them to lessons so I don’t leave them out when they could be useful. There are too many for my brain to remember, and it is hard to keep up with all the new apps!

      • So good to hear about your experiences, Andrea, thanks for sharing.
        I’d love to hear more about how you helped your student on Garage Band. What a great program to stimulate creating and composition.
        I hope to offer a great deal of help with app organization with my book and website so stay tuned.

    • My intention is to unravel (one app at a time!) the app world so that we can all enjoy using them. I’d love to hear about your favorites. Thanks for your support and enjoy your iPad, Kerry.

  • Wow – I agree with all your goals, but I feel tired just reading about it! I use my ipad alot, and my Roland HPi-7 has been a fabulous tool for teaching, recording, and composing workstation. One thing I still stay with, however, are my theory workbooks. I find that no matter how much technology kids are comfortable with, they still need practice with paper and pencil if that is how they are going to take the theory test.

  • I feel so lucky to be teaching at this point in history! My husband and I are taking the leap of faith to open a music school in the fall, and will be offering a Music Lab with our lessons…directly from your 5 posts on Compose/Create. The Ipad will be a part of our lab, so I’m thrilled that you will be providing a resource to help us use it!

    Looking forward to the release…please keep us posted and…


  • There are 3 excellent apps that I use at almost every lesson: Treble Cat, Bass Cat and Rhythm Cat. They have levels from very early note reading to advanced readers (which incorporate speed and multiple line note reading). There are many apps that overlap, don’t serve a real purpose or take too much lesson time. I have no affiliation with this developer but they are my top 3, followed by one called Virtue Ozzy

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