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Composing without quavers

A SURPRISINGLY large number of music teachers feel that their work is regarded patronisingly by senior management - jolly stuff, good for the school, but somehow outside of the mainstream.

How does technology help creativity in music? At the most basic level, an electronic musical instrument adds the kind of flexibility that a word processing package gives to a typist. The software built into even a simple electronic keyboard enables the student to save what he or she has played, and play it back so it can be appraised and developed.

This feature, says Alistair Jones, education manager of Roland UK, opens up a whole world for pupils. It allows them to compose music without cumbersome tape recordings or learning written notation. This hassle-free ability to create, replay and correct motivates the novice and eases the lot of the expert. Music technology is an extension of the "save, replay, change and save again" functions.

Many schools, for instance, will have the kind of software which displays a conventional staff on the computer screen, so that your composition at the keyboard appears ready to be printed out as a finished score. The most well-known is Sibelius for Acorn, which exists at four levels, from Junior to Sibelius 7, which is for professionals.

Another "sequencing" and score-writing package for other platforms, is Steinberg's versions of Cubase, for PC, and Roland's SoundCanvas Music Pack which collects a number of music software products on a CD-Rom. Some retailers provide computers, including laptops, ready loaded with music software.

None of this means that manual instruments are abandoned - the technology can be used in conjunction with them.

All of this sits well in the music curriculum. Too often senior teachers and IT co-ordinators fail to recognise that it also addresses the IT curriculum.

Music technology is another way to learn about IT. A look at the key stages 2 and 3 programmes of study in IT reveals that the pupil who creates music at an electronic keyboard andor a computer is addressing at least half of them.

BETT Connections

Sibelius Software stand 513Tel: 01223 302765

Roland UK stand 679

Schools Music Association stand A15

At Bett '98, the Saturday Seminar programme includes Using IT to teach Music, a presentation by Andy Murray of the Schools Music Association

Using the Internet to Teach Music by Judith Deeble of the Incorporated Society of Musicians

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