Learning with Digital Media and Technology in Hybrid Music Classrooms

Tobias, E. S. (2016). Learning with digital media and technology in hybrid music classrooms. In C. R. Abril & B. M. Gault (Eds.), Teaching general music: Approaches, issues, and viewpoints (pp. 112-140). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

My chapter, Learning with digital media and technology in hybrid music classrooms is now available in the fabulous book, Teaching general music: Approaches, issues, and viewpoints [affiliate link]. You can read my overall description of the book Teaching general music here.


The book is fantastic and can be a great resource for music teachers, pre-service educators, teaching artists, and anyone involved in music teaching and learning. If for whatever reason you don’t end up acquiring the book but would like a copy of my chapter, let me know.

If you don’t end up acquiring the book but would like a copy of my chapter, let me know.

The chapter is not about technology. Rather, I outline an approach for designing, structuring, and facilitating comprehensive project-based music courses that blend aspects of general music and ensembles. I also explain how digital media and technology can play a role in supporting students’ musical engagement and learning. It can be especially helpful to people looking for a starting point to develop or reconceptualize a general music type class or to expand from large ensembles that currently focus primarily on rehearsing and performing others’ music.

The hybrid approach offers an alternative to “strands” as a way of approaching music classes and ensembles. For instance, some schools might offer different classes and ensembles that fit in distinct and separate categories or strands such as a class or ensemble of “harmonizing instruments,” a “music technology” class, a “traditional or emerging ensemble” or a “theory or composition” class. The hybrid approach offers a more comprehensive design where all of these ways of engaging with and learning music can overlap, intersect, and occur in the same setting such as students using harmonizing instruments and technology to create, perform, respond to, and connect with music while addressing aspects of analysis and theory. Or, a class where some students work on harmonizing instruments while others focus on collaborating with them but focusing on technology and digital media. There are so many possibilities.

Here’s an abstract of the chapter:

This chapter explores intersections between technology, digital media, music, musicking, and education. At focus is the development of a hybrid approach that encompasses multifaceted ways that people enact musicianship in relation to and through digital media and technology. In the context of music education, a hybrid approach embraces overlaps, combinations, connections, and blurred lines among music and ways of being musical. It fosters classrooms that mix aspects of general music and ensembles; mobile devices and acoustic instruments; or musics from multiple genres, eras, and cultures. The hybrid approach discussed in this chapter situates students’ learning and musical engagement in musical inquiry and projects. This approach is flexible enough to support students’ interests in particular musical foci in a manner that resists linear, sequential, or compartmentalized forms of instruction. This chapter provides a springboard for developing and facilitating learning environments that are comprehensive in scope and rich with possibilities.

The chapter addresses the following principles and practices:

  • Hybridity, a hybrid approach, and hybrid classes
  • Connections to other approaches and aspects that make the approach distinct
  • Designing and facilitating projects and units
  • Technology and media
  • Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)
  • The ways technology and media mediate engagement and learning
  • Addressing affordnaces and constraints of digital media and technology
  • Considering cultural forms and musical practices
  • Situating technology and digital media in larger contexts (and approaches to the core arts standard of connecting)
  • Expanded notions of musicianship and musical practices
  • Supporting multiple and overlapping musical practices in the same setting
  • Music literacies and fluency
  • Getting to know students and leverging expertise
  • Balancing music, media, and technology
  • Supporting and facilitating learning and engagement
  • The role(s) of technology and digital media in scaffolding
  • Assessment (and evaluation) in a hybrid approach

The hybrid approach works well with many of the approaches outlined in Teaching general music: Approaches, issues, and viewpoints

I’m always interested in collaborating with people who are teaching in hybrid-type settings or interested in desigining music programs with a hybrid approach, so get in touch if you like.

What excites you about a hybrid approach?

What questions or concerns do you have about a hybrid approach?

What ways are you already engaging in or moving toward a hybrid approach?

Again, if you don’t end up acquiring the book but would like a copy of my chapter, let me know in the comments section and I’ll send you a copy.

Study Music Teaching and Learning at ASU Summer Music Institute 2016

The music education department at Arizona State University is known for its diverse offerings and attention to contemporary issues in music education. Our Summer Music Institute offers additional opportunities for music educators and teaching artists to gain professional development and be part of a wonderful teaching and learning community. Take a look below at our full list of 2016 summer offerings:

The ASU Summer Music Institute is flexible around music educators’, teaching artists’, graduate or undergraduate students’ and community members’ needs and summer schedules by addressing a large number of interests in varied increments of 1 week, 2 week, and 3 week courses for graduate credit or non-degree/non-credit professional development clock hours (CEUs). Continue reading “Study Music Teaching and Learning at ASU Summer Music Institute 2016”

Rap, rhyme, and rhythm for music teaching and learning

The following Vox video Rapping, deconstructed: The best rhymers of all time, produced by Estelle Caswell, provides an introduction to the ways that rap musicians use rhyme and rhythm in their music and traces changes over time. (NOTE: The video contains language from some of the music that is not appropriate in many school settings). Take a look & listen and consider any connections you might make to existing or potential music curricula:

What implications might this have for music teaching and learning? Continue reading “Rap, rhyme, and rhythm for music teaching and learning”

EDM producing for music teaching and learning

Do you ever watch videos that feature musicians sharing their creative process? I find that listening to musicians speak about their music in connection with sonic examples helps expand the ways I think about and know music. It is also interesting to consider the format itself as a model for music learners to reflect on their own processes and share with others. This can serve as a great component of formative or summative assessment in learning contexts.

Consider the following video featuring Joel Thomas Zimmerman AKA Deadmau5 and Steve Duda discussing Deadmau5’s Imaginary Friends (hosted by Razer Music):

How might this connect to or inform music teaching and learning?

Here are just a couple of thoughts I jotted down as I watched the video (and I am curious about yours as well!): Continue reading “EDM producing for music teaching and learning”

Supporting transgender and other students communicate through music creation

CNN recently featured a story on Marcelas Owens and her journey from being known as the Obamacare Kid years ago to transitioning as a transgender teen. The story addresses a number of important themes, one of which might not receive as much attention from the media, which is the power that music played in her life. Continue reading “Supporting transgender and other students communicate through music creation”