Does Music Teaching Lose Its Flavor on the Internet Overnight?

Dear Lazy-and-On-Sabbatical Duo,

Sure glad to see you back? Where did you go and hide out for the past six months? My students and I need some help. We are eager to start developing some instructional materials for our music classes and put them on the web so students can access them from their dorms, at home on the weekend, and while on breaks (we have really devoted students here!). Can you give us some models to use for good web sites for music teaching? Any guidance would be most appreciated.

Professor R.U. Studious


Dear Studious. Thanks for your concern! Contrary to popular belief, Squeak and I have not been cruising the Virgin Islands with our 45 foot Hinkley sailboat off the royalties of Experiencing Music Technology. (Perhaps paddling in the Illinois River with a leaky raft would be more accurate.) We've been hard at work with the second edition of our book which we are happy to say is now finished and will be available early in 1999. Back we come to our loyal readers.

It's really beginning to perk up out there in terms of websites that really can be used for teaching. Let me share a few of my favorites.

Tim Smith at Northern Arizona ( The first is Timothy Smith's work at the University of Northern Arizona. This site is a wonderful example of a scholar/teacher using technology to the very best. I consider 
Tim's work to be some of the best available in his field. One part of his work is a site that is designed to offer information about Baroque music in support of a college music class. In addition to the text, links at this site provide sound by playing a particular audio CD that the user has mounted on a local computer. 
From Tim's remote site, the user can received a command to play a certain portion of a locally mounted CD! You can even see the notation of the excerpt that is being played. Portions of the notation are highlighted while the music is playing. Another set of pages Tim has done support a course in form and analysis. Check this one out as well. Take a look at his syllabus too as an example of a really clear description of a college course and the evaluation structure.

PianoNet ( This is an example of site that teaches an instrument, in this case piano. The author has created several small lessons at beginning, intermediate and advanced levels. The QuickTime plug-in is used to support accompaning sound reinforcement. You will probably see more of these cropping up in coming monthsósome free (as this one is) and some that are not. For an example of a commercial site for music lessons, see the Jazz Guitar Correspondence Course by Alan de Mause (

HyperCard Instruction ( I realize that HyperCard may not be the most recent multimedia program, but I include this example here because of its elegance in teaching software. This Australian author has taken a great deal of time in developing this step by step resource. What a great way to augment a class in multimedia! I hope more of these sites emerge as support for our multimedia teaching!

Exploring MIDI and MICNet at Northwestern. Finally, forgive me if I plug two sites at my own institution. Peter Raschke is a doctoral student in music technology at Northwestern. ( He has created a wonderful site that explains a great deal about MIDI. He began this as a project in one of my classes and has expanded it greatly. It even has a Java applet that tests your knowledge of MIDI cable connections. It was recently mentioned in the Electronic Musician magazine. Check this one out as another great support page for a music technology course.

My colleague, Professor Maud Hickey, has championed a collaborative project between young student composers, teacher education students, and a professional composer. ( The idea is to link these people together to encourage children to compose. Comments are passed back and forth, as are MIDI sound files. This is a great model for how one might set up interaction on the web.

Hope these help!


Dear Professor R.U. and Students. The only Hinkley Iíve been looking at is the Hinkley sailboat pin-up on my wall in my basement (right next to my pin-up of my favorite 027-gauge, Dreyfus Hudson steam engine of the Twentieth Century Limited) where my computer and I have been surfing the Web with a mission of updating the technology in our textbook. It sure doesnít take long for the technology world to change, does it!

Your question, Dr. Studious, is one of my favorite topics. I think the web is going to become a wonderful repository of learning-on-demand modules for music teaching and there are some nice examples that hint of great things yet to come. Especially as more musicians get command of Javascript and other languages that add the much needed element of interactivity to music instruction on the web.

To begin with let me point you to two excellent web sites that keep track of who is teaching what on the web. Check these out on a frequent basis. You will find web teaching from all disciplines:

The World Lecture Hall at the University of Texas-Austin (
Blue Web'n Learning Sites (

Here are some web sites that demonstrate nice models for putting your music course materials on the web. Steve Taylor (Illinois State) has it set up so the students download the Finale files for their music theory exercises right from the web page. Reg Bain (University of South Carolina) has a wonderful, comprehensive set of web pages for a wide variety of music department courses. And the Arizona State flute home page is a great example of what a private or studio music teacher can do (Peterson has a great sense of humor; check out the Stooge playing flute!). Visit these and see what you think:

Two former Illinois State music technology graduate students offer some interesting examples to study. (If Blat can show off his students, so can old Squeak!) Ken Fansler provides an example of how music theory can be taught with simple Javascript interaction for feedback on questions, and David Martin illustrates how music appreciation or history might be taught from a web site (this was a project for the web course noted below):

And, I conclude with two examples of delivering music courses, in their entirety, over the Internet. First, check out Dale Olsenís web site for his world music course taught from Florida State. Dale delivers this course to students around the State of Florida. He has prepared a CD-ROM disc to accompany the web page materials; the CD-ROM holds much of the network-intensive graphics, sounds, and digital video clips. Much of his site is password protected. Contact Dale if youíd like more information. The second example is a course I teach on web design for the arts each Spring, Software Design in the Arts II. It is taught over the Internet using RealAudio broadcasts, web page materials, and in-the-classroom email for the online students to ask questions. Like Dale Olsenís some of my materials are password protected.

Hereís another set of interesting links for music teaching. Ken Rumery (Northern Arizona) used RealAudio to put his compostion students' recital on the web, as well as some composer tools used in his composition classes:

How's that Dr. Studious? That should give you some nice models to start with for building web pages. Now, anyone else want to send Blat and I more examples of web-based teaching for music? Iíll take models for trains and sailboats as well!!!

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Last modified on Thursday, 19/12/2013

Peter R. Webster and David B. Williams

Peter R. Webster (a.k.a “Blat”) and David Brian Williams (a.k.a. “Squeak”) have presented workshops and other presentations together for CMS/ATMI conferences and workshops for more than 20 years.  Their collaboration has led to publications and presentations internationally on music technology as well as the co-authorship of the textbook Experiencing Music Technology (Cengage Learning/Schirmer Books, 3rd edition Update, 2009), a widely adopted and highly acclaimed music technology textbook for high school and college students. Dr. Webster is emeritus professor of music education at Northwestern University and Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Southern California; Dr. Williams is emeritus professor of music and arts technology at Illinois State University, a freelance consultant, composer and musician, and immediate past president of The College Music Society.

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