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Music Learning and New Media in Virtual and Online

S. Alex Ruthmann & David G. Hebert

1. Introduction to Music Learning and New Media

1.1 Rationales for Diversification of Music Education Environments
The recent shift, seen now in much of the world, from a traditional Eurocentric
curriculum (typically emphasizing Western classical music) to one that embraces a wider
diversity of musical practices is generally based upon an interrelated set of foundational
arguments, many of which are quite relevant to the theme of online and virtual music
learning. One impetus springs from the recognition that in many nations, the voices and
histories of minority groups have tended to receive less attention in educational settings,
leading to an undesirable reification of systemic cultural alienation. Through free and
user friendly technologies, many contemporary youth are creating and sharing music
online with personal websites and online networks of peers that celebrate shared musical
interests. The use of such technologies for music learning enables lessons to be delivered
in ways that are attractive to the new generation of students.

A rationale for moving music education from the in-person to the virtual and online is the
increasingly widespread understanding that through globalization all nations have
become more intricately connected and one can no longer question whether one can be
considered fully educated in a field such as music if one knows nothing of the musical
practices in the other 70% of the world (e.g. outside Europe and North America, etc.).
The wide world web of the Internet now enables young students to instantly experience

the diverse world (and its array of musics) in ways that were inconceivable to previous
generations. A contributing factor to this diversification is the widespread movement
toward democratization of knowledge and general collapse of elitist values that sustain
beliefs in the social constructs of high classical and low popular cultures, a
perspective which also has implications for both popular music genres and the traditional
musics of non-literate peoples. There are also practical, utilitarian and economic
rationales for the inclusion of genres outside western classical music in schools,
especially because these genres occupy by far the largest current and emerging markets in
the field of music and are devised, recorded, mixed, disseminated, and consumed via new
music technologies, many of which merely require a laptop computer and free
downloadable software.

Finally, there are exclusively musical rationales for including genres other than European
art music and its related performance technologies in the curriculum. Many other musical
genres are more readily conducive to the development of compositional, improvisational,
and multi-instrumental skills, and more often permit creative experimentation of the kind
that is actively squelched in the European classical art music tradition for which correct
interpretation and performance practice is often perceived as sacred. Therefore, it seems
fair to suggest that an education that covers exclusively European art music, along with
its historical technologies, may include many positive features, but is also to some extent
rightfully regarded nowadays as a poor education, in the sense that it is incomplete. A
mathematics curriculum that covers addition, multiplication, division, and subtraction,
but with application only in a limited area and not applied to the "real world" of students'

lives, would be equally incomplete. In mathematics it is reasonable to assume that only
certain students will pursue calculus to a deep level, and in some programs there may be
much more of an emphasis on statistics than in others, for example, but a certain basic
comprehensive knowledge of a subject is expected in other fields, such as mathematics,
as it should be in music. One could also argue that the same claim can be made of music
programs in which students are never even once expected to create a song of their own or
use digital technologies in the music classroom. The neglect of creativity in our field is a
closely related issue for which technology provides possible solutions.

1.2. Popular Music and Technology as Empowerment

Unlike most other arts, the ideology of correctness is so powerful in the European
classical music education tradition, that one of the only ways young students can truly
experience the making of their own music is to start on their own outside of formal
school settings. Interestingly, in this regard the recently emerging field of popular music
pedagogy seems to also be based on many of the same principles of multicultural music
education, and might perhaps best be seen as an offshoot from this movement, We would
like to suggest in this chapter that applications of music technology may also be seen in a
similar light, since many new technologies enable new forms of musical empowerment
that are not as culture-bound as more traditional forms of instruction.

A recent empirical study by Wang and Humphreys (2009) concluded that much remains
to be done in the field of music teacher education in order for music teachers to feel
confident they possess the skills and understandings necessary to effectively teach both

popular music and world music genres in schools in the United States, a nation in which
"youth music" has been a high-profile topic in music education for more than four
decades since the original Tanglewood Symposium.

Some might at first consider music technology to be a peculiar answer to the challenges
of cultural diversity in our field. Rather, we would argue that it is a natural one. An
extensive ethnographic study by Patricia Shehan Campbell (2010) found that immigrant
children from diverse ethnic backgrounds in the United States used new media to
construct a sense of ethnic identity, including music videos and music-infused electronic
games. Kathryn Marsh (2008), in her studies of musical play among diverse children in
several nations, observed that Technology has an almost unlimited capacity to broaden
childrens auditory field (p.5). Eva Saether (2008) has also emphasized the need to use
the music of the youth culture as a starting point when teaching diverse students. As
such, we argue that new technologies are increasingly opening an array of new
possibilities in this area.

It seems important to also mention that we are not the first researchers to examine the
question of how new technologies can enhance the promotion of cultural diversity in
music education. More than 15 years ago, two published conference papers were among
the very first in this area (Cooke, 1995; Tuttle, 1995). Although we will discuss new
developments in particular music education programs and introduce some specific tools,
we will focus our discussion more on the function and application of various types of
tools (which we suspect will turn out to have enduring, if not perennial qualities) rather

than idiosyncratic factors unique to specific programs or products.

2. Themes and Concepts in Mediated Musical Experiences

2.1. Qualities of Virtuality in Online and Blended Music Learning
According to the findings of one study that compared the learning of Hindustani songs in
live and online environments, online students out-performed offline students in every
written test. In addition, the instructor reported that online students more accurately
pronounced the notes while singing classical Indian songs (Mahabir, Thomas, &
Ramasmmoj, 2000). Upon careful examination, one finds that this study had various
methodological flaws, yet it raises some intriguing questions worth further exploration.
To what extent can multicultural music learning be effective in an online environment?

In order to facilitate quality assurance in online music education environments, there

appears to be a need for more robust theorization regarding qualities of virtuality in
relation to musical experience (Figure 1):

Theorizing Qualities of Virtuality:

1. Richly Synchronous Interactivity: Much online education and musical collaboration
consists primarily of asynchronous interaction, resulting in experiences that are
not fully virtual in nature.
2. Exploitation of Unique Possibilities: Attainment of objectives and accomplishments
that could not otherwise be achieved (with implications outside virtual space),
including educational, musical, and scholarly objectives.
3. Sense of Transcendence: Release from limbo - an intermediate state or place of
confinement - whether through aesthetically or intellectually stimulating

Figure 1. Theorizing Qualities of Virtuality

According to our conceptualization (Hebert, 2009a), one important quality of virtuality is

richly synchronous interactivity, meaning environments that enable instant multimedia
communication and responsiveness between musicians, teachers, and students. This is in
contrast to what may be seen as the equivalent of a correspondence course that makes use
of email rather than conventional mail (a fairly accurate description of some online
courses), or the equivalent of a commercial multi-track studio project in which musicians
record their individual parts without ever even meeting each other. Richness and
instantaneousness of interactivity is constrained whenever the attention of participants is
excessively divided, much like the case of a classroom teacher who has to respond to
questions from 20 students all at once, or an orchestra with an upcoming performance
that can only afford sectional rehearsals (e.g. woodwinds only, strings only, etc.) due to
either scheduling conflicts or the unavailability of large rehearsal rooms. Contrarily, an
experience featuring richly synchronous activity will very closely resemble the
instantaneous pace and intensity of a live meeting among all participants, but may take
place between people who are physically distant from one another.

Another important quality of virtuality is the exploitation of unique possibilities. In other

words, the precise reasons for delegating particular activities to the online/virtual rather
than offline/real space should be clearly rationalized according to the characteristic
advantages and disadvantages of each environment. Technology should not be used
simply because it is available or because it seems to enable further trimming of travel

budgets. Some materials traditionally presented in a lecture format, can now be digitized
and presented to students to read or watch outside of class time embedded on a course
website, leaving space in class for more interactive, hands-on and collaborative projects.
Guest musicians and educators can now easily be brought into our classes live via Skype
and other online conferencing technologies. Additionally, the use of online discussion
boards outside of class time permit students to get feedback from peers and ask questions
when they happen, as opposed to waiting to ask them during the scheduled class time.

Still, unique possibilities in this context should not be taken to mean merely the
anytime/anywhere convenience of these most obvious examples, for new technologies
have the potential to offer so much more of benefit to the learning process. Relevant
activities would include requiring music education students to embed videos of their
music teaching into a course website for micro-analysis and both self- and peer-critique,
or having them share their particular specialized areas of expertise by responding as
musical consultants to live video of each others students who are struggling with specific
technical challenges in their performance. Assessment and evaluation, as well as
collaborative digital media performance (Brown & Dillon, 2012) are other areas in which
systems may be effectively designed in an online or virtual environment to interact to live
input from students with deliberately sequenced musical challenges that eliminate
extraneous variables via the controlled environment and offer extremely detailed analysis
of their performance (e.g., SmartMusic for assessment and evaluation and jam2jam for
collaborative digital media performance). The online environment also offers an ideal
space in which to showcase student work in the form of portfolios, whether it consists of

videos of their teaching, recordings of their compositions, or even interactive projects that
enable online visitors to contribute to ongoing musical creations.

A final quality of virtuality, sense of transcendence, should arguably serve as an ideal

objective in the design of online musical environments (Bernard, 2009). Online settings
that are woefully lacking in artistry abound, particularly within educational contexts. Just
as a lecture, essay, or performance can be beautifully presented, so should virtual musical
environments, albeit using rather different techniques. New online social music platforms
such as and MySpace Music provide participants the opportunity to have
music present in the conversation and experience of music online (Dillon, 2007). The
unique capability of modern websites to embed rich media with social collaboration
technologies helps facilitate an online experience that is perceived to be as "real" in some
cases as in-person musical interactions.

What would it mean for online music education to include such qualities of virtuality?
One important example lies in the technological possibilities to collaborate in live music
making, teaching, and learning with musicians in distant parts of the world, working in
entirely different musical traditions within different cultural understandings of

Virtuality may offer new forms of artistic, instructional, and scholarly inspiration. The
popular Second Life virtual environment already demonstrates through the metaphor of
flying that there is a kind of universal desire to escape the limitations of the human body,

which is to some extent achievable in an online environment. As we metaphorically
escape the body even further in such domains, will we also stumble onto new vistas of
artistic expression, including new musical forms? One might argue that this is already
occurring in the context of RockBand and associated musical video game practices
(Tobias, 2012).

2.2 Online vs. Face-to-Face: Synergies in Blended Learning

Ralph Schroeder and Jeremy Bailenson (2008) define virtual environments as
technologies that provide the user with the sense that they are in a space other than the
physical space they are actually in, and that allow the user to interact with that space
(p.327), and define multi-user virtual environments as environments in which more than
one person shares the same virtual environment, creating a sense of co-presence in this
space with another person or persons, or of being there together, and of being able to
interact with these others . . . one has to have the experience of being there with ones
senses (p.328). Schroeder and Bailenson (2008) also identify one of the aims of multiuser virtual environment research as taking advantage of the opportunity to do research
that would otherwise not be possible (p.329).

We would similarly assert that an aim of online music education should be to do

teaching, learning, or musicking that would "otherwise not be possible", and indeed that
is what we find happening in some innovative programs that offer a "blended learning"
approach to musical studies. Blended learning has been defined as an amalgam of textbased, online technology with face-to-face learning (Mathur & Oliver, 2007, Blended

Learning section, para. 1), and one of the strengths associated with this approach to the
diversification of educational experiences is its potential to offer both the advantages of
traditional face-to-face instruction and the global/intercultural and learner-centered
possibilities associated with online and virtual learning. The blended learning approach is
bolstered by a recent report from the U.S. Department of Education (2009) which
concluded that In recent experimental and quasi-experimental studies contrasting blends
of online and face-to- face instruction with conventional face-to-face classes, blended
instruction has been more effective, providing a rationale for the effort required to design
and implement blended approaches (p.xvii).

When music instruction is planned with the ideal of "blended learning" in mind, it is
possible for both forms of learning - face-to-face and online/virtual - to reinforce the
other, creating "synergies" that compound the depth and breadth of learning that would
otherwise be possible. In the case of multicultural music studies, for example,
experiences interacting through an online videoconference with a classroom of music
students in Zimbabwe can enhance the learning of Zimbabwean songs through streaming
videos, as well as bringing live "culture-bearers" from the local community to the
classroom, and (of course) active participation in the playing of songs on marimbas in the
students' own classroom. In these ways, learning can become multi-faceted and multidimensional, appealing to a diversity of learning styles, while enabling students to
recognize the connections between music learned in their classrooms and the wider world
that is rapidly becoming ever more immediate and relevant due to globalization and
technological development.

2.3 (Dis)Embodiment and Virtual Musical Identities

As music is increasingly consumed by youth in online environments via social networks
constructed of fans with shared musical tastes and associated cultural values, its role as a
signifier of social identity may be exponentially reinforced by the powers of new media.
Concepts such as schizophonia and glocalimbodied have been proposed as ways of
thinking about how common musical experience is drastically changing as a consequence
of the popularization of new technologies (Feld, 1992; Hebert, 2009a). As music is
increasingly consumed and produced via new media (rather than live, participatory
experiences associated with amateur musical experiences of the past prior to the rise of
recording technologies), the details of its original context tend to elude listeners. As
consumers increasingly experience music in the recontextualized and interactive spaces
of online and virtual environments, the inherently kinesthetic features of musical sound
and corresponding embodied meanings also become increasingly elusive, challenging the
conceptual limitations and future directions of musical experience. As Noriko Manabe
(2008) has documented in Japan in recent years mobile phone ring tones are increasingly
used in highly creative ways to express personal identity and status among young people,
with consequences for their social relationships.

3. Online Music and Music Teacher Education

The first recent development that calls for consideration is the sudden popularization of

online music education. Distance learning technologies have improved greatly over the
eight years since the results of an Australian study were not able to conclude that the
Internet is an effective medium for the delivery of musical instruction to students isolated
by distance (Bond, 2002, p.22). In fact, one could even argue that there has been an
explosion of recent developments in this area, yet this has not been without controversy
(Hebert, 2008a), and the need remains for further research on the effectiveness of online
music learning (Hebert, 2008b).

3.1 A Pioneering Online Doctoral Program

The first entirely online doctoral program in music education was launched at Boston
University in 2005, and it has grown to become the largest program in our field, having
admitted more than 350 doctoral students and more than 500 students in its affiliated
Master degree program. This program, at the oldest degree-granting music school in the
United States, mostly uses two technological systems, the WebCT/Vista platform for
construction and management of asynchronous learning environments and the Horizon
Wimba program for live, interactive teaching. The Boston University program includes
several required courses that feature multicultural content, with classes in African music,
blues, and jazz arranging. The program's students, most of whom are actively working
music teachers with Bachelor degrees and teaching credentials, have instant access to
instructional videos, online chatting systems, enormous libraries of sound recordings and
digitized research journal articles, and are required to read and engage in frequent online
discussions regarding issues and challenges in their ongoing work as music teachers.
Many of the program's students claim that its courses are very intense and more

demanding than traditional on-campus programs with which they are familiar.

3.2 Blended Learning in Europe

While we are excited about the new possibilities for professional development offered by
such music technologies, and we acknowledge that research is increasingly
demonstrating much can be effectively learned in online settings, it seems to us (despite
our strong personal interest in music technology) that there is something special about
face-to-face instruction that can never be fully replaced. We must also be realistic about
the fact that distance learning technologies continue to be problematic at times, even for
experts. Therefore, rather than proposing that music teaching should all be done online,
we endorse a "blended/hybrid" approach (Allen & Seaman, 2010) that features some
online learning to enhance what is taught in face-to-face settings.

The new Master of Global Music program in Northern Europe - for which Eva Saether
and one of the authors have offered academic leadership - will use such an approach. In
this program, graduate students from three different nations (Sweden, Finland, and
Denmark) will have shared intensive residencies for face-to-face teaching and learning
that are supplemented by online learning to reinforce what was developed during the
residences. This Master degree program - which is entirely free of charge for most
students (even from foreign countries) - includes specialized training in multicultural
music pedagogy, and toward the end of their studies, students will also do residencies
with Glomus Network partner institutions in Africa and the Middle East.

3.3 Blended Learning in the USA
The aforementioned "blended approach" is also infused into the course design in the
music education program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell where all music
education courses are surrounded by a private, custom social network promoting
collaboration and sharing of experiences outside of scheduled face-to-face class time.
This online community of practice (Wenger, 1999) extends to collaborative partner
teachers and pupils in local K-12 schools and is especially valuable in supporting student
teacher experiences at distance. Rather than moving most courses into an online-only
environment (as our Graduate School of Education has done), the pervasiveness of access
to multimedia creation and social collaboration tools are leveraged to engage student
interaction and reflection through extending the physical and temporal bounds of the
music classroom (Ruthmann, 2007). Materials that might have normally been presented
in a lecture format in person, are being digitized and shared in the network for students to
read and watch on their own time, creating more time within face-to-face meetings for
interactive, hands-on experiences not well suited to online environments. Additionally,
students are empowered to create their own content to be added and shared among our

Demand across public higher education for online courses and programs in the United
States continues to grow. A recent comprehensive survey (Allen & Seaman, 2010)
reports that over 4.6 million students took at least one online course in the Fall 2008
semester, with more than 25% of higher education students taking at least one online
course at some point during their studies. Further, 74% of public higher education

institutions reported that online education is a critical strategic goal.

Other public institutions, such as Kent State University now offer an online Master
Degree in music education, and The University of Southern Mississippi also offers a PhD
degree in music education primarily through online courses and is moving toward a
blended learning approach in its on-campus course offerings. While such developments
have come as an unwelcome surprise to some in the profession (c.f. Hebert, 2008a), to
others the need for greater flexibility in graduate studies, and even the inevitability of
online programs, has long been understood (Fung, 2004).

3.4 Online Music Teacher Education and Professional Development

Other researchers are also proposing the benefits of a blended, online approach to
networking pre-service and in-service educators though school, community and
university partnerships. The Music Teachers Oz project documented by Ballantyne, et al.
(2009) found that participants benefited from engagement with "authentic" teaching cases
shared by network members, while helping pre-service participants gain a better
understanding and connection to teaching practices and conditions during their university
training. Further benefits described included collaborative knowledge development
among pre-service and in-service educators separated by large distances. The Music
Teachers Oz website, built using the open-source Moodle platform, integrated discussion
forums and video case studies collaboratively developed between university and inservice educators. This online network was developed to connect students at teachers
from across Australia, bringing musical experiences from actual classrooms to pre-

service students, and pre-service students to diverse classrooms.

In 2010, a new online music professional learning network was launched bringing
together music educators and students in a collaborative learning environment at This network, open to all interested in music education, was
founded by Dr. Joseph Pisano in part in response to the growing online presence of music
educator blogs and Twitter posts from music teachers around the world. The impetus for
this network came from a growing group of active educators participating in weekly
Music Ed Chats organized by Andy Zweibel (an undergraduate music education major)
on Twitter using the hash tag #musedchat. Though no formal research has been
undertaken exploring the nature and use of this site to date, its Web 2.0 features and
active user base illustrate how social media technologies, such as blogs, Twitter, and
wikis can be used in the support of individualized professional development drawing on
the expertise of researchers and educators from across the world. The richness and quality
of the interactions on this network have raised the question among its active members of
how to receive professional development points and credits through participation on the
site. A quick look through the posts reveal a common perception among participants that
the depth and timeliness of information shared on the website are of more
value to teaching practice than traditional face-to-face professional development

In all of the above cases, music learning teaching and the experience of music itself was
in part mediated by online, social networking technology. In the case of Boston

University, GLOMUS, and Music Teachers' Oz, the platform for mediating in person
experience and online experiences was a custom learning or content management system.
In the case of the University of Massachusetts Lowell courses and, the
platform was a free, customizable social network aggregating content from Twitter,
blogs, and other websites. As time passes, social networking technologies are increasing
in both ease of use and multimedia functionality. When used in support of blended music
teaching and learning these tools afford new spaces and opportunities for students to
share their musical perspectives and collaborate with others in the experience of diverse
musical practices.

4. Future Directions: Participatory Media and Social Media

Reflective of an emerging "remix culture" (Lessig, 2008), our students, now more than
ever, have access to and are creating original works with video, images and sounds
explicitly designed to be freely rearranged in new and novel ways. As a middle school
music teacher in the mid-2000s, my students wanted nothing more than to be able to
remix and create directly with the musics they found meaningful. For the girls in my
classes, their desire was to remix Britney Spears & create digital stories, while the boys
tended toward creating soundtracks for short films and original music for video games.
As a teacher, it was a challenge to acquire both the tools and the media desired and
needed by my students.

Recently, musicians have begun to release multi-track "stems" of their songs while

actively encouraging their fans to remix and create new interpretations of their work (e.g.,
David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, & Herb Alpert). In addition to these
purposefully released multi-tracks, some teachers are using illegally obtained multi-tracks
found on social sharing websites with pupils in schools, such as Marvin Gaye's I Heard It
through the Grapevine and What's Going On, in attempt to make their music classes
more relevant by using music that students know through new digital technologies used
by students at home. These teachers are looking to make in-school musical experiences
more like their students' outside of school musical experiences through drawing upon the
music and technologies that are an integral part of youth culture.

This emerging culture of participatory media is gaining traction in schools through the
affordances and pervasiveness of new social music tools. As computing becomes ever
more portable and embedded, handheld phones, originally used for social
communications, are now musical instruments (e.g., Smule iPhone instruments),
platforms for creating music, and are always online, enabling quick access to music and
videos from around the world on demand. Through music simulation games such as
Guitar Hero, Rock Band and Tap Tap Revenge, students physically and rhythmically
participate within and create "felt paths" (Bamberger, 1991) through their favorite
contemporary and classic rock tunes, now running on portable music devices. These
environments provide a unique context for deep, repeated listenings and provide the
opportunity to know and "feel" these pieces from within (Reimer, 2003). In these cases,
new portable music technologies are creating new opportunities and spaces for
kinaesthetic and social engagement with music (Tobias, 2012). As battery life has

increased, these portable electronic instruments have assumed a place on our students'
playgrounds (Marsh, 2008) and increasingly function less as simple music playback
devices, and more as contemporary descendents of traditional acoustic instruments.

4.1 New hybrid platforms for online music making

Noteflight, Mikseri, and Indaba are examples of a new generation of online musiccentered platforms for social music making. These new tools enable "music to be present
in the conversation about music" (Dillon, 2007) online, and are becoming increasingly
sophisticated to the point that the musical features are now central to the experience and
interaction and social features are in the supporting role. This is a marked shift in
perspective from more traditional text- and media-based online collaboration platforms.
Instead of the online space as a network for sharing ideas through text, image and sound,
the online platform becomes the medium for creating and collaborating directly through

As a result of these technologies, new forms of social media musicianship are emerging.
An example recently documented by Ruthmann (2008) began in the unlikely setting of a
public restroom. Someone began by scribbling on the wall a melodic line from the second
movement of Percy Grainger's famous work for wind band, Lincolnshire Posy. Another
person used a cell phone camera to snap a picture of the scribbled notation, and posted it
to, an online photo sharing site. This photo was then shared on, a popular online discussion forum. A young musician from New York City

found the image of the scribbled notation on Reddit and transcribed and arranged it into a
new musical piece through After creating his composition on and giving it the title "Toilet Melody", he then posted a link to his
original arrangement of the Grainger tune back onto the website for
additional comments by readers, which garnered both criticism and praise.

This short vignette illustrates the increasingly distributed and collaborative nature of
online social music practice. Musical fragments written on a wall and snapped by a cell
phone camera are removed from one context and placed online to be recontextualized and
manipulated in new ways. In most cases, the contributors to these online musical
practices are unaware to how their original contributions are taken, remixed and
redistributed to new audiences. Many people viewing the scrawled notation posted to had never heard Percy Grainger's work for band. Their first experience of it
was the notated remix arrangement shared through

It is also important to note that Grainger's work for wind band is not a purely original
composition. In 1906, Grainger, working as an ethnomusicologist, went around the
countryside of Lincolnshire, England collecting field recordings of local folk songs using
early phonograph technology. These early recordings then served as the inspiration for
his 1937 work Lincolnshire Posy, no doubt performed at some point by the person who
scrawled the notation on the restroom wall. Today, our students are working similarly to
Grainger, but now as guerilla digital ethnomusicologists, scouring the Internet for
musical clips and samples ripe for remixing, recontextualizing and sharing online. In this

case, the online tools served not only as a platform for communication, but also as the
medium for creating, sonifying and sharing the music.

A related guerilla digital ethnomusicology example is exemplified by the music videos of

Kutiman ( and Norwegian Lasse Gjertsen
( In the case of Kutiman, he scours YouTube for
music videos to be used as source materials for new musical works. Using video editing
technologies, he clips out and remixes sections of videos recorded and posted online by
others into fascinating new and syncretic performances that challenge traditional notions
of musicianship. In the case of Lasse Gjertsen, he does not report to be a trained musician
or to be able to play any traditional instruments. However, through new video
technology, he can record and combine snippets of notes played on the piano and hits on
a drum set and orchestrate them via video editing into a very convincing and musical
performance, mediated by time and technology.

This new social media musicianship is a completely new paradigm - one most schools
and teachers are unequipped to engage. Advances in technology are making it easier for
students to collaborate at distance in ways more richly mediated through real-time text,
sound and video (Ruthmann & Bizub, 2006) and now through integrated socially
mediated online musicking platforms. In response to the growing youth practice with
these tools and within these environments, it is vital that music educators begin to
immerse themselves in the online musical practices of their students observing both the
ways students are musical and the tools they use to facilitate that musicianship.

4.2 Examples from Second Life and Beyond

One pioneering example of music learning in an online virtual environment is the Virtual
Music Academy within the popular Second Life website. The Virtual Music Academy
reportedly offers not only recitals, lectures, and individual lessons, but also museum
displays, interactive exhibits, classrooms with audio/video capabilities, a lecture and
recital hall, screening rooms, open-air concert space, and an in-world staff (Schwartz,
2009, p.8). Further, its virtual island has been described as follows:

Utwig includes areas (parcels) dedicated to each of the time periods of music history.
Each parcel functions as a time capsule for a particular time period. Along with time
appropriate music streams, exhibits include both written and visual information and web
links that reflect the social and cultural context allowing visitors to glimpse the bigger
picture for the music of a particular time period. For example, the Medieval Period is
housed in Rosslyn Chapel; the Renaissance Period, Palazzo Strozzi; Baroque Period, J.S.
Bach's birth house; Classical Period, Independence Hall; Romantic Period, Lizzy
Borden's house; and the 20th Century in John Lautner's Chemosphere. Each building's
content, including images of the art and links to salient political documents, is constantly
growing. (Schwartz, 2009, p.8).

Schwartz (2009) concludes that Second Life is an amazing tool for reaching out and
engaging folks who would otherwise never give classical music a second thought (p.14).
While the Virtual Music Academy has limited its focus to European classical music,

music of an array of genres from diverse cultural backgrounds is also becoming widely
available in the virtual world of Second Life. Harvard University music professor Kay
Shelemays ethnomusicology course on the theme of soundscapes is also being offered in
the Second Life environment (Condit, 2008, p.28), and more courses and even entire
programs will surely follow.

In a recent Technology in Music Education course at the University of Massachusetts

Lowell, pre-service music educators spent two hours per week in residence at a local high
school teaching digital music and class piano courses. Outside of class time, pupils were
encouraged to make use of a custom social network, YouTube and
explore, learn and remix the diversity of musics enjoyed by the pupils in the classes. The
pre-service music teachers were able to interact and share their musical interests through
posting videos and creating custom piano arrangements of popular tunes with the pupils
via Noteflight. In this context the YouTube and Noteflight websites became parallel
classrooms where pre-service students and high school pupils explored and created
diverse musics together, inspired by a diversity of student-shared musics including
Korean popular music, Liszt's La Campanella, and the Beatles' Hey Jude. In this context,
much more time was spent engaging directly with music and with each other outside of
class time than in class due to the always on social network and unique context of
participatory media.

5. Conclusion:
Marcelo and Carola Suarez-Orozco (2009) have observed that New information,

communication, and media technologies are the main tools youth use to connect with one
another instantaneously. These tools shape new cognitive and meta-cognitive styles and
social patterns of interaction (p.70). They also conclude that schools need to take some
responsibility for improving students information literacy, and helping them develop
into discerning, savvy media consumers (p.72). Indeed, technologies are naturally
favored by contemporary youth. These technologies also shape their learning styles, and
teachers including music teachers share some responsibility for imparting an
awareness of how to appropriately use new technologies, and how to critically evaluate
their effectiveness. This may seem like a lot to ask of music teachers on top of all the
other requirements typically faced in their demanding jobs. However, the first step in
making schools into places where diverse students will want to musically engage, is to
meet them where they are, honor their backgrounds and capabilities, and create spaces for
their musicianship.

Reflective Questions
1. What kinds of musical learning can be effectively facilitated in online and virtual
environments, and what kinds of musical activities are best suited to traditional
face-to-face instruction? What reliable evidence serves as the basis for your
answers to this question?
2. If music is a form of invaluable cultural heritage, and rich traditions are associated
with how it is transmitted, to what extent might the introduction of new
approaches (specifically, using new technologies) cause harm to these traditions?
How extreme could ones position on this question be taken? Should Gregorian
chant only be taught to men living in European monasteries, for example?
3. Technology receives very little attention in most historical accounts of the field of
music education (Hebert, 2009b), but to what extent is it fair to suggest that music
teaching has often been largely shaped by the emergence of new technologies,
from early metronomes and solfege hand charts, to radios and phonographs, to the
digital sound files and virtual/online courses of today?
4. How can music teachers most appropriately respond to students who use new
music technologies in highly creative ways that not only challenge traditional

aesthetic sensibilities but also push the limits of intellectual property legislation
(e.g. reformatting and sharing of sound files, construction of mashup collages
and amateur videos synced to popular music tracks, etc)?

Additional Sources for Further Reading

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U. S. Department of Education. (2009). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in
online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. Retrieved from
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