Midnight Music Community member Brian Ellison

Midnight Music Community Member Spotlight

brian-ellisonThis member spotlight features Brian Ellison from Painted Post, NY.

What do you teach and where?

I teach 6th and 7th grade Music Technology and Electronic Music at Corning-Painted Post Middle School in Painted Post, NY.

Name one favourite technology tool or resource that you’ve used in your music teaching

Out of all of the different music tech applications I have used/discovered, I always go back to Garageband when introducing students to the topic. Garageband, either iOS or OS versions, allows for success in a very relatively short amount of time which is essential in motivating and keeping students’ interest.

Briefly describe one tech success you and/or your students have had during a lesson

The students’ favorite project that I just discovered last year through Katie’s 2016 Ultimate Guide To Free Music Technology Resources

[editor’s note: the 2017 guide will be coming out soon!] was the Wallace and Gromit project.

In this project, four Wallace and Gromit video excerpts (about 1 minute each) were available with the sound effects removed and only the dialogue kept.  Students were tasked with adding the sound effects and background music back in. We studied the storyboards provided through the BBC website and discussed appropriate sounds and effects in each scene.

I used four websites that students could use to search for sound effects to import. Some students chose to use fair use background music that they found on the above websites while others chose to compose their own background music. This entire project was done through Garageband for Mac in my 7th grade Electronic Music class.

[note from the editor: if you’re interested in step-by-step instructions for doing this type of film scoring project with your own students, there are video tutorials and downloadable resources inside the Midnight Music Community.  Come and join us – the community members and I would love to help you out!]

What’s your next music tech goal?

We were fortunate to be supported this year through the Ableton Push initiative, so my focus this year has been incorporating Ableton Live and Push into the curriculum.

Tell us why you decided to join the Midnight Music Community. What’s your favorite thing about it?

I joined the Midnight Music Community because I wanted a place to go to discover other educators doing great things in music technology. My favorite thing about it is being able to both have the resources when I have questions about a specific topic or be a resource to other educators who have questions.

What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing when it comes to music technology in education?

I am fortunate to teach in a very supportive district that understands the importance of providing music for all students. In the past five years, our music tech program has grown exponentially; starting with one or two classes to now offering twelve. At this point in the journey our biggest challenge is having enough room for all of the students interested in the classes.

If you could give one piece of advice to a brand new music teacher regarding the use of technology in music education what would it be?

Use the moments when the technology does not work the way you want it to discover new ways to deliver the content. I have become a better educator through my mistakes, rather than my successes.

Need help with technology? Join the other teachers inside the Midnight Music Community

We’d love to have you join us inside the Midnight Music Community where you can find personalised help and step-by-step instructions for using technology in your music teaching.  There are online courses, lesson plans, tips and tutorials – all designed especially for music teachers.

Learn more about the Midnight Music Community here.