Am I Human?
Disclaimer: It is my intent with the following paragraphs to validate my fascination with technology and NOT to dis anyone if they prefer to stay away from the bells and whistles of the 21st century. Beginning 88pianokeys.me was sparked by a personal whim that turned into a hobby that turned into an obsession that turned into a business opportunity that turned into a book to be released soon. (There it is: my blatant buy-my-book marketing ploy. Stay tuned for more). In my opinion, confrontation is something to be avoided and it was the last thing I imagined encountering (I know, I'm naive) when I recently posted my blog review about the SightReadPlus app on a number of social media groups (names to remain anonymous to protect the innocent). I simply thought some might enjoy knowing more about the app.
When sharing the blog, I accompanied it with a simple question: "How do you boost sight reading skills?" Although some commenters shared wonderful ideas, I was simply stunned by the insinuations of particular commenters. OK, I'll be honest, I may be slightly sensitive and could use lessons in building thicker skin but, I felt accused by some that I was missing the point of how to teach sight reading and being out of touch with making music. To put it bluntly, it seemed that a few believed I was NOT being human! Why? Because I suggested using technology, specifically, an app to enhance students' experience to build sight reading skills. Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions?... Here are a few excerpts of the thread...
"It is interesting that Bach learnt to compose by examining other respected composers' compositions. He didn't need an app to do that either. There are some things we really do not have to buy into."
"Oh, sorry! Didn't realize this was another commercial. Yeah, and an app makes it all better. It's so easy! You just need an iPad."
"It's interesting that for centuries musicians have never needed an app to learn to sight-read. All the best teachers just say read and play as much music for pleasure."
"The app looks like a glorified teacher...Can't a paid teacher do the same?"
"I work on sight-reading with my students by establishing a non-judgmental climate... This IS NOT an "app!" This is human to human interaction ! ! ! ! !"
"This sounds like an app to PRACTICE sight reading (there is a difference between sight reading and reading, but many beginners use them as synonyms; either way, my comments apply), but it doesn't TEACH it, which is what most people need."
"Once you have read one of these, the app might come in handy, but my opinion is that if you want to practice, why not practice on a piece of music you want to learn?"
"There are deeply concerning problems with technological approaches...What this does that no technology can ever do is develop the ear for the quality of sound needed at every moment! ...Music IS a human connection! Furthermore, let us not forget how many jobs technology has stolen from living, breathing musicians in numerous realms."
Mmmm...There was never a notion in my mind that this app was the ONLY way to teach sight reading, just one of many suggestions as it seems to me it is one of the hardest skills to master. I know, from personal experience that my sight reading skyrocketed once I was hired to read new music every choir rehearsal. My skill was developed out of force and not necessarily out love for reading new music (confession: I wasn't the perfect student). I find most students tend to dislike developing this skill because for most it is just hard. I was thrilled to find a tool that would ease students into this important lifetime habit.
With the research I've completed about the learning styles of today's generations, I believe I am connecting with most students on common ground. Turns out some teachers view this technologically enriched method less than human. So in my typical fashion, here's a list. A list of 5 facts that demonstrate in my opinion that I'm still a functioning, living, breathing, music-loving human being even though I embrace and yes, am infatuated with technology.
5. There is nothing like spending one-on-one time with a student. Building a trusting teacher-student relationship is paramount to success at the keys. Technology may help but it will never replace human interaction.
4. Yes, I have three boys and they've hardened my shell, but I'm still a big softy on the inside, just ask my husband.
3. Who really enjoys sight reading at first? Why not capitalize on the human inclination to have fun and learn at the same time?
2. My last post indicates the place where I find the most contentment: at the keys being creative (oh, I'm pretty good at sight reading, too).
1. My studio waiting list continues to grow as the present students just don't seem to drop out for the fact that they continue to increase their skills making beautiful music.
Perhaps I've stepped out on a limb touting my loyalty to technology and stating my reaction to the comments of others? Will I fall? Hope not. Will you agree? Hope so. Will you disagree? Hope not, but if so, I'll grow some thicker skin (since humans have skin) and perhaps learn something new from you if you care to share your thoughts. In the meantime, I'll keep enjoying (along with my students as evidenced in the photo to the right) my iPad and apps AND making music until further notice.
Here it comes, a plug for a my new book to be released later this year. Please visit the book site to see a video of the author (me) providing the inside scoop on what you will find in The iPad Piano Studio: Keys to Unlocking the Power of Apps. You can pre-order yours today!