Defining Music Education in the Digital Age

Cain, T. (2004). Theory, technology and the music curriculum. British Journal of Music Education 21:2, 215-221. doi: 10.1017/S0265051704005650

In this article, Cain argues that the practical changes in music education brought about by recent technological developments, require us to rethink some of the most fundamental theories of our discipline. Sampling, sequencing and music software have blurred the lines between composing, performing and listening.

ICT must be adapted into music lessons in a meaningful way, with ICT used not as a novelty, but as a tool to improve students learning. Challenging our traditional notion of composing as purely creating (not involving performing or audience-listening), and allowing music to reflect and create new ideas is necessary to achieve this, rather than simply forcing new technology onto old frameworks.

Cain suggests that a major stumbling block to such new thinking is the lack of autonomy experienced by many classroom teachers. He uses the example of singing: many teachers say it is a vital part of music education, but are do not feel able to include it as a classroom activity. Cain attributes this unwillingness to government policies that discourage creativity, and a lack of confidence among teachers. However, based on my reading of Crawford (2009) and personal experience, I would argue that it is the more immediate school environment that mostly contributes to the successful application of new technologies in the music classroom.

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