Music Technology and Curriculum Access Revisited

On this category page, I will be revisiting my publication “Music Technology and Curriculum Access”, 2001. This was a personal study which examined whether, at that time, the technology existed to support universal access to all the various areas of music education. Obviously, some of the resources described are now defunct. However, the principles of access remain the same and much of the technology is generic: current models can be applied in much the same way. I will be considering to what extent the technology, both legacy and contemporary has been/ is being  successfully exploited.

This is my description of the original study, which is discussed at greater length on the website, Music Technology and Curriculum Access – accessing and enriching music learning.


There are few published materials documenting the use of music technology in the classroom, so I hope that this book, full as it is of descriptions and analyses of real music in real classrooms, will prove useful. It records my personal investigation of ways in which technology can improve access to music for all pupils and, in particular, for those with disabilities. It considers two important questions:

1) Does the technology necessary to address each and every area of the music curriculum exist?

2) Can the relevant technology be incorporated into normal classroom practice?

I conducted several investigations, in order to find answers to these two questions, including:

a) bringing together components to form computer-based systems for the use of particular individuals/groups with severe physical disabilities

b) using identical equipment with groups of varying levels of physical/intellectual ability.

c) creating ‘virtual instruments’ to facilitate live performance and documenting their use

d) analysis of class performances to identify the points at which technology was contributing to differentiation

e) individual case studies

f) identifying a number of software packages suitable for class teaching and analysing them, in terms of physical and intellectual access

g) authoring original, computer based, teaching materials and ‘test-driving’ them in the classroom

h) initiating both individual and group music sessions in a nursing home for young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties, entering observations of the sessions into a keyword database and analysing them in terms of the National Curriculum.


Support for Non-specialist Music Teachers

One way in which I try to achieve the Full Pitcher aim of widening music access is by supporting non-specialist teachers through resources made available on the website. This includes online playback of all the music, simple software to deliver my own teaching materials and activities, tried and tested over a long career teaching a wide range of ages and abilities (my avatar photo has been around for a while! ), classroom projects, creative activities for children, songs to share

Online Music
Online playback enables teachers, unable to read music or play an instrument, to learn new repertoire. Where they are able to access the internet in the classroom, they can explore the online activities with pupils and use the playback as accompaniments. The website is available worldwide, 24/7, and this is particularly helpful where teachers are working in isolated or poorly resourced settings. The music is available as pdf downloads, of which a significant proportion are free. If the music is too high, too low, or needed notated for a different instrument, I am happy to respond to requests for adaptation.

Creative Software
GridPlay is a non-editable version of MIDIgrid, a remarkable piece of authoring software, which I have used to support my own teaching, from pre-school to adult education and with all abilities. GridPlay Level 1 (3-7) Level 2 (8+) and Carers/Teachers (severe special needs) are not prepackaged lesson plans, suitable only for one situation, on one occasion. Rather they are ‘tool boxes’ of repertoire, virtual instruments and activities which have resourced my own teaching and which I now make available to others.

Inspiring Confidence
As I have done all the work ‘behind the scenes’, it is not necessary to have any special knowledge of computers or music to get ‘hands on’ with the software although, of course, some musical experience can enable wider application. Nor are these intended just for use seated around the computer, although they can be used in that way. The accompanying e-books  suggest how each activity can be carried out away from the computer and integrated with singing and acoustic instruments.  The latter is the preferred way of using the resources. GridPlay Creative Explorations Level 1 and Level 2 comprise virtual instruments, lyrics of songs, some with sheet music and all with backing tracks, teacher notes suggesting individual and class activities for each grid.

Songs and Activities
here are numerous songs  for which lyrics and playback are provided online,often associated with free PDF free downloads. These songs, located on the Seasonal and Kids’ Pages of the website, are all accompanied by simple creative activities.

Classroom Projects:
The “Creative Classroom” projects pages cover all key stages. There are also teacher notes for non-specialist teachers with copious suggestions for using the Easy/Classrooms Ensembles  as a basis for improvisation.