Why more music classes are covering coding and digital skills

A growing number of music teachers are also adding STEM and coding skills to their classes
By: | June 23, 2020
As far as instructional technology is music classes, the iPad is the newest instrument students and teachers are learning to “play.” (GettyImages/ Klaus Vedfelt)As far as instructional technology is music classes, the iPad is the newest instrument students and teachers are learning to “play.” (GettyImages/ Klaus Vedfelt)

The music business has moved almost entirely into the online and digital worlds, says Peter Perry, instrumental music director at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland.

During online learning, music teachers can help students develop the skills needed on the engineering side of the music business, such as using digital tools to record themselves, and then editing and mixing their performances.

“They can use the knowledge they have about music and ensembles, and apply it to create what they believe is a good recording,” says Perry, whose school is a part of Montgomery County Public Schools.

Teachers can also assign musical excerpts that students can listen to and then record themselves playing—using just a smartphone. The recording can then be submitted for feedback.


More from DAHere’s the formula for a school district turnaround in an NYC suburb


This technique could be used for student assessments once schools reopen. If these performances were recorded at home, teachers and their ensembles would have more time for full rehearsals, Perry says.

iPad is the new digital instrument

As far as instructional technology, the iPad is the newest instrument students and teachers are learning to “play.”

David Williams, a professor of music education at the University of South Florida, has formed an iPad band with his student teachers that has performed on campus.

The tablet and its GarageBand app are effective tools for teachers who want students to create their own compositions, says Williams, who presented at FETC® 2020 on how to integrate iPad music in K-12 classes.


More from DAWhat COVID and online learning taught Florida school leaders


“The iPad allows students to create original music to accompany whatever they’re learning,” says Williams. “If they’re doing a social studies project, for instance, they can put together music to demonstrate what they learned about Alexander Hamilton.”

What coding sounds like

A growing number of music teachers are also adding STEM and coding skills to their classes, says Catie Dwinal, a music teacher with Quaver, a music education company.

Some teachers are having students build instruments while also learning the science behind how sound is made. Students also can use the Scratch program to create and play virtual instruments.

“A lot of teachers are finding that coding and music go along together quite well,” Dwinal says. “Because the process of learning to code and learning how to compose a piece of music is so similar, it’s an easy way to connect the two skills.”

Click on the links to find other topics in our online music series:


Interested in edtech? Keep up with DA's Future of Education Technology Conference®.