About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 3498-3501
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain


A. McAlister

Oberlin College (UNITED STATES)
Teaching music to the next generation is presenting a great challenge to pedagogues due to the dizzying pace of technological advances. Our students, digital natives, are well versed in this technology and expect the educational system to meet their demands for increased technology in the classroom and music studio. Most pedagogues, digital immigrants who were not raised on this technology, are faced with a severe learning curve when it comes to implementing new modes of communication and learning. What is second nature to their students is foreign and sometimes intimidating to the teacher. However, as the technological field changes, so must our methods of teaching this next generation of digital natives.

Music pedagogues are faced with two challenges. First, music study and performance requires focused, off-line attention. With the immediate accessibility of cell phones, computers, text messaging, and video, the attention of our students is under great strain. Although teachers can control this focus within the private lesson or classroom, what cannot be completely controlled is the environment in which practice occurs. Studies have shown that the concept of multitasking is a myth, yet there is still a general perception that this next generation is a generation of multitaskers. While texting, listening to music, doing homework, and talking on the phone may be the norm for today’s students, this does not mean they are doing it all with precision. In fact, studies have shown that such habits actually subject the brain to significant amounts of stress. This leads us to the second challenge, one that may not have an answer for many years to come. Recent neuroscientific research has concluded that the area of the brain responsible for organization, prioritization, memory, goal setting, and nuanced thinking -the prefrontal cortex -undergoes a radical change during the adolescent years. This is in contrast to previous thinking that the brain had fully developed by the age of six. Based on this research, it has been concluded that those processes used on a regular basis are strengthened while those not used die away. As technology changes the means in which students learn, neurologists and pedagogues are interested in how this will change the structure of the prefrontal cortex and, ultimately, if skills like writing, verbal and non-verbal communication, and long-term memory will die away. The need for research at this time is critical in order to understand how these minds are being shaped in the years to come.

My proposed session will deeper explore these issues and examine the results of my survey for pre-college music students and independent music teachers. This quantitative survey will show how students are using technology to both support their musical studies and as a music-based extra-curricular activity. Additional information will give insight into how students are using technology within the structure of their practice time. In contrast, the teacher survey will show how digital immigrants are adapting to new technologies and if they are meeting the expectations of their digital native students. This will give pedagogues a clearer vision of what steps must be taken in the coming years to bridge the gap and create a curriculum that best suits the new learning styles of the millennial generation and those to follow.
author = {McAlister, A.},
series = {5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2011 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-614-7423-3},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {7-9 March, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {3498-3501}}
AU - A. McAlister
SN - 978-84-614-7423-3/2340-1079
PY - 2011
Y1 - 7-9 March, 2011
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2011 Proceedings
SP - 3498
EP - 3501
ER -
A. McAlister (2011) PEDAGOGY FOR THE DIGITAL NATIVE, INTED2011 Proceedings, pp. 3498-3501.