As schools remain closed during this difficult time, it is important that students continue their music education online via tools like Sound Infusion. Many school teachers are preparing to move to a virtual learning environment to support their students at home. The challenge lies in recreating an interactive classroom environment and effectively integrating music into the virtual classroom. The common misperception of music education is that it falls under the umbrella of ‘extracurricular activities’, but is not a core or integral part of a student’s curriculum. However, for students staying at home, online or virtual music education can be crucial for staying engaged in a virtually connected environment with their teachers and classmates.
Online learning has many advantages over traditional class-room based learning:
- Cost: the cost of online music education through remote learning is significantly less than traditional class-room based methods. Student-centric learning can be created through a variety of applications that are web-enabled, user-friendly and stimulating for the student.
- Time and location: home schooling can be as effective as class-room based learning, especially as online music education exchanges the time and location restrictions of the classroom for greater flexibility and customisability. Students and teachers can engage each other through applications such as Zoom and Google Hangouts, while using innovative programs.
- Resources: remote learning resources are plentiful in this day and age and student-centric learning can be encouraged by using programs with a high level of interaction and creativity, especially when a student is stuck at home and unable to attend class.
Music education at home
Music education is a highly emotive and collaborative subject for students. It encourages the development of social and emotional skills including adaptation, emotional recognition, empathy, creativity, grit and confidence (Macdonald, 2013). Music education can develop strong listening, communication, teamwork, critical and creative thinking skills (Maury & Rickard, 2016).
Students can become stressed, bored or feel isolated when at home during this health crisis (“Studying at home due to coronavirus…”, 2020). Virtual classrooms enable students to feel connected with their teacher and classmates and collaborate online through applications, such as Sound Infusion, where they can record their own compositions and learn about world cultures through music. Virtual classrooms promote student-centric learning as students can customise their composition by changing the key, speed and instrumentation of their song.
With students learning in a home environment, they will likely have a variety of worksheets and tests to complete. Music education can keep them enthusiastic about their lessons without resorting to traditional lesson plans, while promoting social and emotional learning in a class format that they enjoy. Musical activity is highly stimulating and is an ideal activity to incorporate into lessons that involve interaction between the student, class and teacher.
Students enjoy music as it can motivate, set the mood, excite and enhance social and emotional learning. Music can inspire students to be creative. Music also encourages movement for students in a home environment. Sound Infusion provides students with a variety of instruments from all over the world to choose from and a platform to easily create compositions.
Benefits of online music education
Research demonstrates that music can effect mood, stress and immunity and social relationships, while improving emotional and physical health (Macdonald, 2013; Maury & Rickard, 2016; Zenin, 2016). “Playing and listening to music benefits both mental and physical health,” (Music for Student Wellbeing, 2018). The findings of the first large-scale review of 400 research papers determined that the music can improve the “function of the body’s immune system and reduce levels of stress” (ibid.). Zenin (2016) found that listening to music reduced levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that has negative physiological effects, including the promotion of obesity.
BBC Arts commissioned a three-party study of 49,000, which found that irrespective of skill level, being involved in creative activities like making music helps people manage emotions, build confidence and explore solutions to problems (“Even Minimal Creative Activity, Like Making Music, Boosts Wellbeing”, 2020). Researchers discovered that creativity is used in three ways: 1) As a distraction tool to avoid stress 2) As a contemplation tool, creating mental space to reassess problems and make plans 3) And for self-development, by building self-esteem and confidence (ibid.).
According to a report by Elizabeth Habermann (2019) in the Newcastle Star, “During a neurological study at Melbourne University they saw that when a person engages in music their entire brain lit up.” The results demonstrate that the two sides of the brain, right and left, are connected by music, suggesting that music has the ability to improve emotional and physical wellbeing. Music encourages creativity and artistry and helps with social isolation. “Music is open to anybody at any level from the absolute beginner to the experts.” (ibid.)
Broh (2002) in ‘Linking extracurricular programming to academic achievement’ published in Sociology of Education found that students who engaged in musical activities had higher levels of self-esteem and motivation, as a result of improved relationships with parents and teachers. “The children who took part in musical activities talked to their parents and teachers more, leading also to richer social relationships,” (Zenin, 2016). European research has identified music engagement in the curriculum as a factor in improved social adjustment, increased social bonds and more positive overall attitudes in children (ibid.).
Challenges of Online Learning
While remote learning has been the preferred alternative in the current climate, not all students can access the virtual classroom on an equal basis. According to Rose Luckin, a professor of learning-centred design at University College London (Anderson, 2020), some of the challenges of online learning include:
- Insufficient infrastructure: students from remote and rural regions of Australia and elsewhere around the world may face difficulty in accessing online resources as reliable broadband connectivity may be difficult to obtain.
- Technology: not all schools or teachers have the technology they need or the technical knowhow and support to make it happen
- Human resources: few schools have the staff capacity to design online materials and deploy it accordingly
- Home technology: not all homes have the technology needed – hardware or software – to make it happen
Even the best resourced schools face challenges. Many teachers are struggling with long hours to learn new tools and create new content, while also being concerned about student wellbeing, something that can be very difficult to assess online. Teacher well being is also a major adjustment point. Denise Grice (2020) notes that teachers need to be flexible and focus on the overall learning goals instead of daily tasks, which might overwhelm students especially in a remote learning environment.
Finding a Solution
Sound Infusion places music at the center of the school curriculum, demonstrating it as a phenomenon that touches on multiple aspects of culture and ways of knowing.
Filling the music specialist gap
School positions for specialist music teachers continue to shrink in number. The necessity for music tools for the primary generalist to transmit music skills and knowledge with a low barrier to implementation could not be greater to bring our students toward this great art form. Sound Infusion fills this need.
Low Cost Alternative
It’s a gamble for schools to assign financial resources required for purchasing and maintaining instruments along with the space required for them to be played without disrupting surrounding classrooms. The up front costs are prohibitive to both schools and parents and at time not even an option for certain demographics.
Redirecting technology toward music
Sound Infusion capitalises on the wave of technology integration sweeping through schools by delivering our tools through computers and mobile devices
Ready to use notation
Sound Infusion is a mind blowing archive of royalty-free sound clips from an array of the world’s most culturally precious instruments and diverse musical traditions. With about 50 lesson plans and cultural information resources, also included is a mammoth library of more than 5000 sound samples from an astounding 75 different countries, including over 125 different instruments. With this internationally recognised tool, you can mix and play with sounds with an unlimited number of tracks, export and share, speed up and experience full creative control with how you want to craft your culturally diverse tunes.
Supports Australian Curriculum
Sound Infusion supports the Australian Curriculum and encourages engaging, student-led digital learning. With lesson plans for primary and secondary schools, up to year 8, all students can engage in a fun and creative activity as they investigate areas such as geography, history, social sciences and music by mixing, harmonising and downloading their own music with a cultural flavour. Sound Infusion is a dynamic and exciting tool designed to enhance ACARA learning outcomes, cultural appreciation, respect and wellbeing.
Sound Infusion is an online platform that enables students to create original music compositions using digital samples of instruments from around the world. It encourages inquiry-based learning that recognises the importance of nurturing student initiative. The inherent intersectionality of music with the Humanities and Social Sciences as well as with the General Capabilities of Intercultural Understanding, Critical and Creative Thinking and ICT Capability allows students to explore a range of curriculum priorities that can be folded into integrated learning activities.
Supporting Australian Teachers
We understand that it’s a stressful time to adapt to online learning, so we’re here to make it easier for you. Are you looking for digital classes for Term 2? Sound Infusion is offering digital tools and lesson plans that address national curriculum requirements for music, history and geography classes.
To support Australian teachers, we’re giving away a month free of Sound Infusion, as well as ongoing support for online staff training, monthly added lesson plans, webinar events and educational resources for musical instruments and cultures.
Sound Infusion is well suited for students learning at home and can increase interactivity, creativity and wellbeing during these stressful times.
Register to get started or contact Brad Smith at [email protected] to schedule a video call.