PAN - Journal of the British Flute Society
Enhanced music eBooks - Raymond Robinson on using technology to support scale learning
Every music teacher and professional musician knows that learning to play any musical instrument is a wonderful and often complex process involving a combination of good teaching and student motivation. Every individual has a varied combination of learning preferences and every person’s learning style is different. There has been much research on the topic of learning styles and one of the most commonly used models is the Fleming model which categorizes the various types of learning styles as visual learners, auditory learners , reading/writing-preference learners and kinesthetic learners, also known as ‘tactile learners’. Good teachers recognize these differences and try to mould their teaching style to a student’s specific learning style.
In this process, music teachers have come to rely heavily on written music manuscript for their teaching materials, and this “paper” medium has been used very successfully for centuries.
It is only in the last 35 years, since the development of personal computer technology, that methods of teaching have widened to incorporate these ‘new technologies’ and their gradual uptake has led to the possibility of great changes in approaches to learning. Although the first e-readers were introduced in 1998, eBook technology only really penetrated the market significantly following the launch of the first iPhone and Kindle in 2007. This market response was soon built upon with the launch of the App Store in 2008, the iPad in 2010, iBooks in 2010, iBooks Author in 2012 and Kindle Textbook Creator in 2015.
Enhanced eBook technology is continuing to develop rapidly and it seems that, despite a lingering fondness for paper, consumers are now accepting eBooks as readily as traditional books as a reading medium.
What does this change mean for music teachers, musicians and people wanting to learn to play a musical instrument?
Being able to combine different learning styles into a single medium is a new teaching and learning opportunity, as enhanced eBooks can combine visual, auditory and reading learning styles. Being able to ‘hear’ a sample of music as you read and learn to play it, for example, is much more helpful than just having a piece of manuscript on its own. Audio assists the learning process; it can demonstrate how a selection of music ‘sounds’.
Raymond Robinson, a musician and former music teacher from Northern Ireland has started to develop this concept into enhanced musical eBooks. He is passionate about music and believes that everyone can learn and enjoy learning to play an instrument.
His idea was to start with scales, the initial building blocks of music, that everyone uses, and create an enhanced eBook to help with their learning. He has recently launched this enhanced scale eBook for the flute, Flute Scales: Classical, Jazz, Etudes with Audio Files. The book contains the common scale patterns with supportive demo audio files of each of the scales at various tempos.
Raymond says, “Scales and Arpeggios are the foundation of all music. Not only are they important in music creation, but understanding them and mastering them as a musician is a lifelong learning process. If you read biographies, listen to interviews or talk to professional musicians, without exception they will tell you that learning to master scales and arpeggios and their variations is one of the most important elements of their routine. In this first flute scale eBook I have included all the main scales, arpeggios and variations for Classical and Jazz. In addition helpful audio files in the enhanced eBook to help you listen to and master each scale.”
The Flute Scales eBook contains 246 classical and jazz scales and their variations, as well as 19 études based on the major scales, 19 études based on the major arpeggios and 814 audio files (on the enhanced eBook on iBooks) which can be used to listen to each scale and arpeggio or to play along with. The audio files have been arranged at speeds of 120 beats per minute (bpm), 240bpm and 300bpm, with a four beat count introduction and 60bpm and 180bpm for the scale etudes, 90bpm and 150bpm for the arpeggio études. The audio files are tongued, however, Raymond suggests experimenting with slurs, staccato tonguing and other patterns of play.
The scales are listed in ascending note order rather than traditional key order, which Raymond believes helps the learner to progress naturally through the scales.
Raymond believes that enhanced eBooks are here to stay and are a great medium for music teachers and musicians to assist and support the learning process. “Enhanced eBook technology is fairly new and we really do not know where technology is going,” he says. “The launch of the iPhone in 2007 has changed the world in terms of how we all interact with technology and each other. Who knows what is coming next? However, one thing is certain: as musicians we should embrace these developments in technology to make the process of learning more enjoyable and simply better".
“It is an exciting time to be a musician and teacher and we have a huge opportunity to expand our methods of music education.”
Raymond’s enhanced eBooks are currently available on the iBook store.
PAN - bfs.org.uk September 2015