Computerized Music Composition by Adolescents Working at Home: an Experimental Project
Levinsky College of Education, Tel Aviv, Israel
This study investigates the process of computerized music composition by 14-16 year-old adolescents working on their own at home.
Personal computers are currently used by adolescents as a major source for music listening, downloading music files, scores and chords, as well as a tool for music composition. There is a growing need to develop new, non-traditional teaching methods that would be compatible with the thinking patterns of today's adolescent students.
This study examines ways that expand the learning environment, seeking connections between the students' musical world and the subjects that they learn in school.
The method for the study used mostly qualitative tools: questionnaires, open interviews, and study of the students' compositions. The 20 students who took part in this experiment did so voluntarily and had never before studied computerized composition. They received computerized music composition learning kits, which they used at home. Each student used the kit to create a simple composition environment at his/her home, and their musical composition activities were documented throughout the summer of 2006. Central issues of the study were: students' ability to learn, their motivation, the qualityof their compositions, the kit being helpful to computerized composition, and the implications for similar activities in music composition classes at educational institutions.
Only ten out of the participants completed their activities throughout the duration of the experiment. Each of them composed between five to ten pieces, in a variety of styles differing from one another. The technical aspects of the computerized composition process did not present a problem. The majority of students preferred to get to know the work environment on their own and develop their own style in composition. This was achieved through minimal use of the written instructional material that they had received. Being isolated from colleagues and teachers, participants demonstrated significant creativity and originality.
Major implications for music education are: 1) Computerized composition, when done voluntarily and independently, requiring that the student possesses motivation as well as perseverance. Most students will need further instructions, attention, and supporting environment. 2) Isolation encourages originality, but limits the musical scope. 3) Effective distance learning needs to use a wide variety of media for instructions, since many students prefer not to read.