How iPads Enhance Creativity in Middle School Music
From December 9, 2021 until the fifth wave of COVID moved AIS online, Grade 5 and 6 students in music classes taught by Mr. Robert Kilvington-Shaw (Mr. K-S) worked with a class set of iPads on a unit about notation using the app Staff Pad. Following the work of Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura, who outlined different degrees of classroom technology integration, Mr. K-S’s goal was not to simply substitute traditional hand-written musical notation, but to augment the learning of notation with an enhancement.
In the past, Mr. K-S would teach the various lengths of notes, and students would have to rewrite notes in various rhythms that still added to the original number of beats. Students learned that one whole note was the same as two half notes and was also equivalent to four quarter notes.
“There’s a debate in musical education circles at this age and stage as to whether we should give them standard notation at all as it can be a huge barrier to learning. It’s like saying we’re going to speak Spanish by learning the grammar rather than just speaking Spanish.”
— Mr. Robert Kilvington-Shaw, MS Music Teacher
“There’s a debate in musical education circles at this age and stage,” Mr. K-S noted, “as to whether we should give them standard notation at all as it can be a huge barrier to learning. It’s like saying we’re going to speak Spanish by learning the grammar rather than just speaking Spanish.” However, Mr. K-S saw the value of teaching it with Staff Pad on the iPads because it connected input of notation with the output of the rhythm it symbolized by digitally playing back what they had written.
Through this work, students have developed aspects of AIS’s Expected Schoolwide Learning Results. Their aural identification and listening for understanding as well as organization of ideas created opportunities to strengthen their Effective Communication skills and they continued to grow as Well-Rounded Individuals through the new opportunities and challenges they experienced.
Unfortunately, the fifth wave of COVID brought the iPad lessons to an abrupt halt. Mr. K-S had envisioned taking the notation work with Staff Pad to then apply their skills of writing on the GarageBand app and have students write their own music on various instruments.