How music classes have gone digital since school closures

Online music class can give boost student voice and social-emotional learning
By: | June 23, 2020
In a sign of the trends sweeping K-12 music instruction, a band comprising University of South Florida student teachers and their professor have been performing concerts with only the software on their iPads.In a sign of the trends sweeping K-12 music instruction, a band comprising University of South Florida student teachers and their professor have been performing concerts with only the software on their iPads.

As K-12 music classes were being reshaped by longer-term trends—such as wider inclusion of coding, pop and hip hop—the coronavirus outbreak forced all learning online.

While music education relies heavily on students being able to play their instruments together in person, band leaders and teachers adjusted—and continue to adjust—in ways they say will enhance instruction even when students return to classrooms.

“Ensemble classes contain some of the highest levels of interpersonal communication—you’re making split-second decisions with other people without saying anything to make a piece of art more beautiful,” says Peter Perry, instrumental music director at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland.

“One of the big takeaways from being quarantined and locked down is that technology is a very powerful tool, but it doesn’t beat human interaction,” Perry says.


More from DA: How music immersion closes achievement gaps


Large traditional ensembles remain popular but more schools, driven by student interest, are adding hip hop, electronic music and rock, says Denese Odegaard, past president of The National Association for Music Education.

Culturally responsive music teachers are giving students “voice” to share the music from the family’s backgrounds while more schools are giving students computers or iPads so they can record performances or complete work and return it to the teacher online.

Click on the links to get more insight and details on some of these trends:


DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.


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