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Can e-learning technologies be used to effectively teach

instrumental music to classrooms and individuals?

Kimberley Haas
ETEC 500

Table of Contents


Research Problem

Rationale for the Study

. 3

Research Questions

Review of Literature
.. 5


.. 12

Research Design

Limitations of the Study





Research Problem
Music education has traditionally been taught in a face-to-face
environment only. This method of teaching has been in place for
hundreds of years, and has worked very well for the students who are
able to access it. Music and the arts are being recognized more and
more as core courses, vital to a students learning experience in
school. All students should have the opportunity to learn about music
in some form, be it in the traditional sense of learning an instrument,
or in a non-traditional way by learning to compose music with a
synthesizer and a computer. Music is relatable to all people, no matter
their age, socio-economic background, gender or race. Anyone can
study music, and I would like to help them have access to different
kind of learning experiences through technology and e-learning.
With the increasing abilities of e-learning to reach students in
remote areas, there is now an opportunity to reach more students in
rural areas who do not have access to a music teacher. This study will
review the tools available and their efficacy in teaching instrumental
music to distance students by a trained music professional. It will also

research the current e-learning tools available, and have them tested
and reviewed by current music educations.

Rationale for the Study

The study of instrumental music has long been seen as the
pursuit of rich families. It is most often well off students and schools
that have music education as part of their school lives, and
unfortunately more and more music programs are being cut from atrisk schools. Also, there are many communities that have no access to
a music teacher for their schools. In these situations can e-learning
technologies, specifically an online learning platform, be used to
affectively teach instrumental music to classrooms and individuals who
might not otherwise have access to it?
I have been a middle school music teacher for eight years, and
my personal interests are in technology. I have always wanted to bring
the two worlds together, and find a quality way to teach music via elearning. I have also worked collaboratively with a teacher working in
the interior of British Columbia who is not a trained music teacher, but
who would like to provide some music education to his students. I
would like to find a reliable way to bring music education into the lives
of these students in remote areas that would otherwise not have any
experience with learning music.

Another part of this study will bring e-learning tools into the
hands of current music educators. Most of these teachers use little to
no technology in their current teaching, and I would like to help them
find tools that work for them, as well as work with them to find new
and interesting ways to use them.

Research Questions
This mixed method research study will look at the following

What e-learning tools are available to teach music to

distance students?

How can music professionals use these tools to teach

distance students?

What is the difference in the quality of learning, if any,

between a face-to-face learning environment and an online learning

The first two questions will be studied using qualitative research
forms, and the third question will be studied with a quantitative

Review of Literature

This literature review looks at articles with two main themes, the
practice, pedagogy and support of studying music as well as articles
that research the use of technology in music education. The articles
that speak to general music teaching and learning, such as Shuler
(1992 & 2012) give a good basis on what is seen as good music
instruction, and what are the themes in the field. The technology
specific articles, such as Callahan (2013), Adileh (2012) and Beckstead
(2001) lay the groundwork for the study that I am proposing here. I
have used the three research questions as guiding principles and ideas
when searching for articles.
Using the UBC database I searched for the terms music education
and included pedagogy, technology and E-Learning to find the
articles for this literature review.

To begin, even though the Shular (1992) article is dated, the

teaching of music in the traditional classroom sense has not changed
for many years. This article speaks to the importance of music
education as a draw to keep at-risk students in school. For many at-risk
students the problem is either that they dont desire to learn or they
dont have the means to learn. Music classes can help with both of
these situations. Shuler (1992) describes how this can be accomplished
when he states, [m]usic classes typically combine a clear, hands-on

purpose with motivating content. Students can also find a peer group
be to a part of in music classes as well, helping them feel welcome,
understood and supported at school. The same can be said for the
teacher-student relationship as well. One music teacher often sees the
students through many years of school, becoming a constant and
relatable adult in their lives. This article demonstrated the need for
music education in the school system. There are many schools without
the access to music teachers who could benefit from having their
students learn music in an e-learning environment. The question
remains though if the learning will be at the same level, but having a
class of like-minded students to work with will provide the inclusion
and support that at-risk students need.

A second article by Shuler (2012), 20 years later, speaks to the

authors view that music education should been seen as a civil right for
students to have access to. This passionate article describes how
education is not complete and well rounded without the arts, and that
they should be seen as core subjects. The author cites statistics that
show that the most at-risk schools are the ones least likely to have a
music education program. He states, [t]he debate continues as to
whether NCLB (No Child Left Behind) has reduced the achievement gap
in the 3Rs of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but it clearly has not

improved students' arts education. On the contrary, recently released
data confirm that a decade of obsessive emphasis on standardized test
scores has widened the opportunity- to-learn gap in music and the
other arts. Education, especially in the USA, is becoming a civil rights
issue, and the lack of access for all students to study music and the
arts infringes on these rights. This article emphasizes the importance
of arts education for students, and being able to teach these students
via e-learning would grant that access, and help round their education
to include this core subject.
In keeping with the ideas of the current state of music education,
the Klimai (2010) article is translated from Russian, and has some
interesting insights into the current direction music education is going.
There has been a long understood belief that the only instrumental
performers that are truly excellent came from being child prodigies.
And if not a true child prodigy they started practicing their instrument
at a very young age, around 4-5 years old. This belief has lead many
people to not even attempt to learn an instrument as an older student,
or even as an adult. This article calls for a universal method of
teaching older students instrumental music in a way that will allow
them to compete with their peers who learnt at a younger age. The
program should be not only about the physical playing of the
instrument, but also learning about it as a form of artistic

communication as well. This new method combines both the muscle
memory learning of traditional music education as well as incorporates
the emotions, thoughts and history of the music as well. This wellrounded approach is very transferrable to an e-learning environment
because it doesnt rely solely on teaching the physical aspects of
learning instrumental music. Instead it allows for the student to
research the music, and get their own understanding and feel of the
piece they are studying which can be done asynchronously.

In their article Dioglo et al. (2011) speak about the increasing

need for e-learning in the world today, and specifically in music. There
are so many remote areas without the access to quality education, and
e-learning can help reach many of them. As an example the authors
cite Africa, where large amounts of students are locked out of
education making the need for teachers and learning exceed the
available teachers and schools. The authors describe two aspects to
learning music through e-learning; the first is what they call
information-based content. This includes the study of musical theory
and history, which can be learnt without the use of an instrument. The
second is performance-based content where the student learns to play
and perform on their chosen instrument. The study looks specifically at
Virtual Classroom, blogs and wikis as ways to get these two types of

content to the student. The study uses examples from Kenyatta
University, Kenya who have successfully adopted a blended learning
environment into their music and dance classes. This has also allowed
them to collaborate with universities and professors that they wouldnt
have otherwise had access to. Of course, there are challenges to this
system as well. The study describes the key challenges as resistance to
change the traditional music education methods, experience and
proficiency with computers and technology as well as access to the
hardware needed to run the courses. These are challenges that are
common with all aspects of e-learning, not only e-learning music
education. The need for access to music education and the increasing
amount of people in remote and locked-out areas both speak to the
need to create a reliable and effective way of teaching music in a way
that is not limited by time or physical space.

Looking now at specific studies exploring music education and

technologies, the Cerda et al. (2013) study is a joint venture between
Universitat Politcnica de Valncia and the Computer Music Group from
Carnegie Mellon University. They set out to create a modular software
system to teach music using any low cost hardware, such as a tablet or
smartphone. The two groups saw that music programs were being cut
from many school systems around the globe, so they wanted to create

a way to reach those students with music. They also wanted classroom
teachers to be able to use their software to augment their teaching.
The group from the Spanish university noted also that music education
in the school system in Spain is not based fostering creativity in the
students. It is taught in the same way that it has been taught for years
where the emphasis is on creating excellent classically trained
musicians who read their music well, and not play outside of that
music. This software creates and mixes sounds that the student can
create. The whole realm of classical music does not apply here, and the
students are free to be creative with this new medium. The study uses
a Spanish secondary school to test out their new software. An already
formed class is broken into groups using the software on their personal
devices. Unfortunately, they do not describe the outcomes of these
student groups. As of the writing of this study the project is ongoing,
and they are planning on working with more Web 2.0 tools in future
iterations of the software.

One of my considerations when looking into using technology to

teach music education over distance was to use Skype. The Callahan et
al. (2013) case study looks specifically at conducting collegiate-level
piano lessons via Skype. The study follows Steve, the instructor, and
Michelle, his student. Michelle is a full time choral director who is

taking courses at the university to complete her Masters degree. She
lives far away from the university, but initially was travelling to the
university in the summer to study with Steve and do her course work.
Steve and Michelle are also contributing authors to the study. The
study employs a particularistic case study design, and follows this one
case. They run the study over sixteen weeks that included eight 50minute lesson observations, two interviews, and eight bi-weekly ejournal entries. The authors worked together to synthesize the data,
using one specific author as the person who compares all of the
qualitative data. This case study is just that, a look at the experiences
of one student and one teacher who are both also authors on the
paper. Does that mean that this information is widely generalizable?
No. However, there is good information here on what worked and what
didnt for these specific people, allowing for me to learn from their

Another look at teaching and learning music through technology at

the post secondary level is the Adileh (2012) article which compares
students achievement and attitudes towards music education between
a blended method and face-to-face (FTF) only. The two guiding
questions for this research are:

1. Is there a significant difference between the FTF group
and the blended group in terms of course achievement?
2. Is there a significant difference between the FTF group
and the blended group in terms of attitudes toward music?
This study uses a pre-test/post-test control group method where the
179 university participants were assigned to groups specifically to
make the groups equivalent. The experimental group was taught using
the blended method, whereas the control group was taught using only
the FTF model. The data was collected using an achievement test as
well as an attitude scale. Interestingly the blended group was found to
have been more successful by a statistically significant margin. Going
hand in hand with these findings are the results of the attitude scales
between the two groups. There is a small, but statistically relevant
increase in the attitudes of the blended group over that of the FTF only
group. The use of statistical analysis and creating clearly read tables
add to the credibility of this study. However, the author does not speak
to the possible problems with a pre-test model affecting their later

In this last article for this proposal Beckstead (2001) asks the
question, will technology transform music education? This article looks
specifically at the role of teaching composition in the school system.
Composition is not something that is traditionally taught in the

instrumental music class, it is seen as a completely different pursuit.
Often, it is seen as a bygone art form that only the very elite and
highly talented can take on. The author would like to see technology
used to help bring this art form into the music classroom. He finds,
however, that the technology is being used in the place of traditional
methods, but with little change in the results. For example, its similar
to when a classroom teacher assigns her class to create a PowerPoint
presentation instead of making a paper collage. Technology is being
used, but only to accomplish the same goals as before. In the case of
music the new technologies include using computers and synthesizers
to create music. This allows students to create music freely without
having to concern themselves with notation. Notation can be a huge
stumbling block to creativity, as it is very complex and hard to learn.
Creating music based on sound alone frees the composer to worry
about notation later, if at all. This opens up the access to music
education to anyone who has basic computer skills. The need to know
and learn and instrument and notation is no longer required for the
study and composition of music. Bringing music education into the
lives of people and students that have not been able to access it
before is one of the goals of this study.


Statement of Hypothesis
My first two questions have a guiding idea for my research,
which is that there are many e-learning tools available for teachers,
but not many that are specifically for the teaching and learning of
music. These tools will allow teachers to bring a blended approach to
music education in their classes. My literature review showed that
students who participate in a blended learning environment achieve
higher scores and report that they have a better attitude towards
music. Learning how to mold these tools for use in the music classroom
will be part of the outcome of the study.
My third question does have a hypothesis, which is:
The learning of instrumental music is a complex and physical
study that will have difficulties replicating via an online learning
platform. However, the study of music in any form does have
inherent value, and should be supported.
There are so many different kinds of music instruction that I could
study, but I wanted to go straight for the most complicated to replicate
in an e-learning environment. This study will not look at general music
classes that can be taught via e-learning, however this is another field I
would like to research in the future.

Logistics Plan
This plan outlines the details of the qualitative study. A group of
10 music educators that live local to me will be recruited to join a study
to determine the efficacy and usefulness of different e-learning tools. I
hope to keep a group of 10 to have as many results as I can. The
teachers will all receive the same group of e-learning tools to
investigate, use and report on. I will be used as their technical support
if they need it. They will be free to use the tools as they want, so as not
to limit their ideas and goals with the tools. They will have access to
the tools for the sixteen week period allotted, and then they will
complete a questionnaire that I will create for them. I will be asking
about how they used the tools, their feelings towards the tools and
how affective they were. I would also like to know if they plan to
continue using any of them going forward.
This plan outlines the logistics and details of the quantitative
study. To begin I will contact the principals of the two schools that will
be involved in the study. I will meet with the local principal face to face
to describe the study as a whole, and what I will be doing with the
students. I will contact the principal of the distance school and send
them written material as well as schedule a Skype meeting to go over
the details of the study. I will have a parental consent form for them to
approve, and will work with them to distribute the form and ensure

that a signed copy has been returned. I will enquire as to the ability to
form my own random groups for the study, but if that is not possible I
will work with existing classes.
The students will be made into three groups, one at the distance
school and two at the local school. The two at the local school will be
the experimental and the control group, where the experimental group
will be taught using the e-learning strategies and the control group will
only be taught face to face. The distance school will have only one
group, being the experimental group. The distance does not allow me
to hold a face to face class at that school.
The students will all be given a pre-test to gauge where they are
at the beginning of the study. The same teacher will then teach all
three groups. At the end of the term, a sixteen-week period, the
students will be administered a post-test. Analysis of covariance will be
used to calculate the difference between the pre-test and post-test for
the individual student, and not have the findings based on the
differences between the groups.

For the quantitative study I will use three classrooms of students.
I hope to have randomly assigned groups, but I may have to work
within already existing classes.

The qualitative study will use 10 teacher advisors. The teacher
advisors will be used to test, evaluate and review different e-learning

Materials or Apparatus
Standardized tests both for pretest and posttest of the
students in the research groups.
Teacher reports Both from the teachers evaluating and
using e-learning tools, as well as the teacher teaching the three
research classes.
E-learning tools to be determined, based on availability
and relevance to the music classroom.
Online learning platform to teach music to one rural class
and one local class, to be created with the teacher and myself.

Research Design and Procedures

Within the three research classrooms the students will be
randomly chosen, if approved by the principal. I will use two classes at
a school that is local to me, and one that in a rural area and has no
access to a music teacher. There isnt a possibility to have a rural class
that is taught by a music teacher for this research. The study will follow
a pretest posttest control group design. One rural class and one local
class will be taught using the online learning platform, and one local

class with be taught face-to-face. I will also use ANCOVA to ensure the
results are not based on the prior knowledge of the students.
The teachers reviewing e-learning tools will be given the same
tools to work with in their regular classrooms. They will return reports
that evaluate their experience and feelings towards the tools, as well
as detailed plans of how they used them and what worked/what did not
work for them.

Time Schedule
This study will take place during one term of a regular school
year, approximately 16 weeks. Final reporting will be available
approximately 6 weeks after the end of the study.

None, though this may make finding and using e-learning tools to
share with teachers to evaluate difficult. If this is the case, I plan to
apply to the principals of the schools where the teachers work for
monetary assistance with adding those tools to the school repository.

Data Analysis:
Both narrative and statistical data will be prepared.

Final Reporting:
Final reporting will include narrative data, as well as statistical
data, and will make recommendations as to which e-learning tools are
beneficial to the music teacher and music classroom, as well as report
findings with regards to the efficacy of learning music via online
learning platform.

Limitations of the Study

There is a possibility of the pretest affecting the results of the

study, but the length of the study should minimize the impact of the
pretest. Also, there may be limitations to creating a random grouping
of students to work with, in which case existing classes may need to be
There is also a possibility of teachers having difficulties with the
e-learning tools, and their computers. The teachers being able to use
myself as a support to technical issues will hopefully minimize
technological problems, but all issues cannot be foreseen.



Adileh, M. (2012) Teaching music as a university elective course

through e-learning. Australian Journal of Music Education pp 71-79.

Beckstead, D. (2001) Will technology transform music education?

Music Educators Journal 87(6)

Callahan, R., Harlos, S., Herring, M., & Kruse, N. (2013) Skype music
lessons in the academy: Intersections of music education, applied
music and technology. Journal of Music, Technology & Education. 6(1)

Cerda, J., Dannenberg, R.B., Garcia, W., Hernandez, C.A., Lloret, N.,
Murillo, A., . . . Serrano, J.E. (2013) New technologies for music
education. E-Learning and E-Technologies in Education. pp149-154

Dioglo, B., Andango, E., Katuli, J. (2011) E-learning as a strategy for

enhancing access to music education. International Journal of Business
and Social Science. 2(11)

Klimai, E.V. (2010). Current tendencies in music education. Russian

Education and Society. 52(6)

Shuler, S. (1992). Reaching at-risk students through music education.
National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin. 76(30)

Shuler, S. (2012) Music education for life: Core music education:

Students civil right. Music Educators Journal. 98(4)