Integrating the Adventus approach will help students form a stronger foundation sooner, will greatly increase opportunities for cognitive, psychomotor, social and emotional development, and will also enhance interest in learning music. Music educators are rarely accused of changing too rapidly, but the opposite inclination has drawbacks too. Today's standards for group music instruction were adopted in the 50's and 60's. Group music education is overdue for an important advance...conditions have changed. Most traditional instruments are very costly, but MIDI piano keyboard controllers and computers are inexpensive now, and sophisticated MusIQ software has been developed to take advantage of these tools. There is an excellent opportunity to upgrade. The right strategy is to trade up for the best possible results with commonly available resources. The Adventus approach provides a reliable way to deliver much more skill development to every student, and that comes with incredible benefits. For that reason the Adventus approach deserves it's place in a teacher's toolkit. Allow the opportunity to improve - consider that many of the benefits associated with this new approach can't be delivered with traditional-only strategies.
2. There are a number of behaviour issues in our classes, and students with special learning needs are integrated into classes at every grade level. The Adventus approach may make my music class more complex, how can this work with students on the spectrum or with ADD, ADHD?
Software and electronic equipment has traditionally been the domain of engineers, scientists, and other professionals, but increasingly over the past 30 years software has been made much more accessible to non-technical users. The Adventus MusIQ software is an example of easy access, and the first year of its animated interactive software is completed successfully by children in preschool. It is true that students with special learning needs may take a class (or a few classes) to get comfortable using the MusIQ software, but when they do, these same students often gain much greater advantage from the interactive software than typical students do...and that's saying a lot. The net effect is to give special needs students a comfort zone they're attracted to, which prompts every 30 seconds for a small step, and ultimately gives them a sure way to accomplish something new that's meaningful to them. This is a new world for students with special needs. One noticeable general effect on students with special needs is that after using the software for 1-3 months, teachers note a significant increase in focused attention, and a dramatic decrease in behaviours in the music classroom.
The Adventus MusIQ software has been reviewed by music specialists responsible for selecting student and teacher materials for use in NS schools. After successful reviews, Children's Music Journey software is listed as a resource for all NS teachers. The review process carefully screened for alignment with the curriculum and for cultural and gender bias. The most recent analysis of alignment was conducted by Adventus in August, 2015. Close alignment is an important aspect of any material, but the Adventus MusIQ software is also uniquely engaging and effective and has an impact on student progress. The Adventus MusIQ software was created in collaboration with experienced K-12 music teachers and authors of comprehensive public school music curricula, highly skilled musicians, early group piano specialists, distinguished composers, music theory specialists, administrators and gifted artists. A team of ambitious, talented software developers helped to create new technology that transformed a large number of fragments of pedagogy and content into sophisticated, comprehensive tools that are successful engaging students in the long term and keeping them on track. Over the past several years Adventus has continued to align its materials with more curricula, such as the national standards for comprehensive music curriculum in the US and UK, and provincial curricula across Canada. Analysis shows the Adventus MusIQ software is very effective addressing outcomes that complement the best traditional group strategies.
The Adventus software can be used successfully by children as young as preschool age. Because the software is closely aligned with the comprehensive group music curriculum, a qualified music specialist will already be very familiar with all the intended outcomes. Typically a teacher would spend 1-2 hrs with someone experienced with the software, then spend 3-6 hrs working through the content and features to be able to call up the appropriate feature or content when it's needed. There is a large body of content, and there are detailed teacher guides to help review the sequence at a glance. A total investment of 6-9 hours of 'review' is all that's required for a qualified music specialist to become comfortable enough to begin delivering very successful classes. The majority of the planning work is already available in detailed teacher guides with weekly plans and student materials, plus practice and final assessments every ten weeks.
Good teachers typically use up their class time, but there is always room to improve strategy. Some approaches are more effective with specific outcomes, and a different strategy for achieving specific outcomes may help students retain what they learn better, and/or progress more efficiently. Students consistently love to learn with the MusIQ software, and that increases student engagement. Some of the activities in the Adventus MusIQ software will be more effective and efficient in achieving curriculum outcomes than the way the teacher is used to achieving the same outcomes. When the software is used, it will save time achieving those outcomes. The time saved leaves free time in the 1hr class. Teachers can add 15 minutes of this new activity without sacrificing time for singing, and students will be more engaged. We should also assess the impact of out of class time. The MusIQ software is used for just 15-20 minutes in a 1 hour music class per week, but the Adventus approach successfully adds development time at home. Students enjoy using the software every day. Prior to the Adventus MusIQ software, regular engagement with an instrument at home was rare unless it was supported by private lessons (5-10% of students). With the interactive software being used at home, all students will be adding close to an hour to their musical development per week...fun 10-15 minute sessions that add up nicely, building skill and confidence and increasing interest in music. The new approach doesn't risk losing time in class, it provides a realistic opportunity to multiply the weekly time engaged in learning music!
Hundreds of schools use the MusIQ approach in their day programs with no reported issues of confusion between learning piano key names and solfège naming. This does not mean no confusion occurs, but it does provide some assurance that confusion over solfège doesn’t generally delay progress with singing. With the Adventus approach, the piano learning begins in parallel with the singing development for several months, and as student voices mature (with age and training) the piano training and performances can merge with the voice training and performances. The addition of music reading and piano playing greatly increases students’ fundamental understanding and interest in the language of music, which helps singing development later on. Instead of delays caused by confusion between piano key labels and do re mi, the duality of piano and voice skill development is wonderfully complementary, adding much more than the sum of the parts. When experienced voice teachers are asked about their students learning to read music and play the piano, and they will confirm it helps. There is a reason private teachers are not very concerned about solfège confusion, and it’s because all evidence points to the net impact of piano learning on singing as a measurable positive. It should be noted that the impact of singing development on piano playing is also positive, singing develops the ear more efficiently than piano.
7. In my music class students learn as a group, where this software would have them working with a computer, which is a process between a computer and an individual. Will they be losing an opportunity for social development?
If you are using Kodaly methods for most of your class, students are likely to be spending most of their class time in group activities. If it’s important to you that they spend -all- of their class time in group activities, you can easily opt to use a group-only strategy for working with the software while in class. For example, a teacher can connect one music station to a projector and students can work through a lesson together as a class, discussing each part. While use of the interactive software on individual PC’s in class may reduce the group time somewhat, Adventus MusIQ software can also facilitate group performance, where students play as a ‘piano band’, while other students sing. The interactive software is helpful in motivating the student to practice regularly at home, so it is important there is some ‘group’ attention to the software, so if the whole class has some time with the software each week, that’s a good launch pad for the practice, which adds development time. Don’t forget that performing regularly for their family at home is a valuable part of a student’s social and emotional development, one that traditional music class typically doesn’t achieve.
8. I know my parents. They have a tough time getting prepared and motivated to help teach their children to read at home. How am I going to prepare or motivate them to connect a keyboard to a computer, install the software, etc?
In comparison to the regular reading assignment, the MusIQ practice is very simple. Setting the music station up at home, so a student can practice at home is definitely a little more involved than opening a book. But once the music station is set up for practice (after day one), the interactive software is guiding the student, and the music practice doesn’t require constant parental attention, rather it requires regular checking and weekly encouragement (which is partly done by the instructor, and assisted by the use of stickers and practice cards). It is recommended that parents sit down for a little each week with their child to ask them what they learned that week, and ask them to show what they can do. It’s a lot of fun for parents to see their child developing skills, it will connect the parent more with what’s going on at school. The instruction is coming from the music class at school, but it’s very helpful for children to see that their parents are also interested in skills they’re building. Prepare parents with a simple introduction to how Adventus materials are used. Parents will install the software and connect the MIDI keyboard to the USB port of the computer. If they have any problems, they have access to an Adventus toll-free support line, 1-888-999-6434. They will also have access to a support email, email@example.com. Adventus is familiar with all the issues and offers unlimited toll free support to all students and teachers.
Sound waves produced by acoustic pianos were first captured and reproduced when Edison invented the phonograph. It was Edison’s favorite invention. At the time, a few performing musicians likely suggested that listening to a phonograph recording had the effect of lowering sound quality, and therefore suppressed musical development, and was not in fact ‘progress’. But the coincident distribution of a musical concert to people worldwide was considered extremely beneficial by most of the performing musicians and educators, and audiences because it could bring wonderful music into the homes of so many who would otherwise never experience the beautiful performances.
So it is with the Adventus MusIQ approach, we are faced with the question of what’s more important... to limit the options for sound to traditional instruments like acoustic pianos, and coincidentally restrict the study of music to a privileged few, or to deliver the amazing benefits of developing instrumental music skills to every child in every school, with ‘smart’ instruments. From the perspective of a public school, it seems the latter would provide much more of an impact on overall academic achievement and quality of life. Delivering both is the best answer. Those who can afford to use a high quality instrument should do that, better quality instruments are more fun to play. But the 90-95%% of families who can’t afford the best quality instruments should be offered a practical ‘smart’ way to deliver the amazing benefits of developing instrumental music skills… so that no student is denied the benefit.
As the phonograph opened up music performances to every family over a century ago, so the Adventus MusIQ approach opens the door for every student to receive all the amazing benefits intrinsic to this special process of developing instrumental music skills and the confidence and joy that comes from creating their own music. This is a real opportunity to democratize music and to impact overall academic achievement.
The issue of sound quality is less of a controversy every day. Approximately twenty years ago the quality of the best electronically reproduced piano sound surpassed the point at which the most skilled performers could discern any difference from the best acoustic sound source… even when playing the different instruments. Going forward we’re likely to hear better and better sound quality at lower and lower price points as technology improves, but we have already passed the point at which a modest electronic device (under $100!) offers sound quality comparable to an mid-range acoustic (mechanical) piano. The public has not been slow to realize this, and it is already rare for students to begin their piano training on an acoustic instrument. According to Yamaha salespeople, over 90% of piano students start out on an electronic piano keyboard. Those who progress for a few years move to a nicer instrument.
For the purist, there is still a question of whether sound waves that are lower quality than those created by an acoustic instrument, will damage the student’s future musical development or remove their enjoyment of music?
It seems likely that the ‘least-ideal’ sound waves are treated by students as temporary distractions, and there are very successful modern methods of music learning (originating in Japan) that purposefully add background noise to the learning process to force students to listen better to their play in the midst of the noise. This suggests developing an improved listening ability is dependent on a wide variety of sound quality.
This aspect of development realistically part of every student’s musical training, since all students are obliged with their own singing, to undergo a transformation from their own ‘non-ideal’ instrument to a ‘better quality’ instrument. We need to experience a wide variety of sound quality to become discerning creators of music.
The final question it seems, is whether use of a non-ideal sound source is detrimental to the satisfaction of playing the instrument, and if so, would that harmful effect (of not having a satisfying sound) discourage the development of this potential musician? While this is an argument to select a better quality instrument where possible, it is clearly not a logical argument against the Adventus approach, for two reasons:
There is no credible evidence that children under 12 are inherently harmed or delayed during the use of computers to complete well purposed tasks. There is no evidence of physical or mental issues developing for example, from reading a computer screen, as many billions have been doing for several decades. It is reasonable to exercise caution with the specific activities and content that are being accessed by a computer, all activities should be age and skill appropriate, and should not be passive (watching TV or movies). The 10-15 minutes per day of playing piano, with helpful composer characters keeping you on track, is most certainly beneficial. But the 2-4 hours per day the average child spends passively watching television is having a huge detrimental effect on their development. Conclusion? Recommend children use technology only for carefully purposed activities only during the week, and send them outdoors to play or have them actively engaged in other healthy activities for the remainder. Watch a TV show or movie with children on Saturday nights, with family and friends.
If a dedicated music educator delivers a group music program with traditional-only strategies, and then integrates the Adventus approach as recommended, i.e. to address specific learning outcomes without reducing the focus on singing, the quality of that music program will see a measurable increase, both in the foundation created for future music learning, and in the level of interest exhibited by students in continuing with their music education. More development is better, and a good teacher will be able to achieve more development after integrating the Adventus approach. A more appropriate question might be, how can this go wrong? Clearly if a teacher uses the interactive software for the duration of every class, they lose opportunities to form a strong connection with and among students, and that significant opportunity for social and emotional development should be taken advantage of in a group class. Using the software in the appropriate way is a benefit, while turning the classroom into a library study booth does not take advantage of the intense level of interest that can be realized when students are creating music with and for each other. The ideal balance can be easily identified by an experienced music educator, and the balance improves when students are provided the means to practice with the interactive software at home.
Please refer to a previous question about, the time used in class for this activity. There is room for improvement, and if any of the creators of the above methods were actively pursuing improvement in their methods today, it’s hard to imagine they would proceed without considering the use of Adventus MusIQ software. In this sense it’s more accurate to think of the Adventus approach as an extension to these methods, not a competitive method. The small in class footprint of the interactive software, with most of the skill development occurring at home, is compatible with that view.
On the surface this is a key concern for every teacher. A teacher that is already stretched to cover curriculum and put on two concerts a year, and deal with behavior issues can only be pushed so far before their mental and physical health suffers. Increasing expectations without adding significantly more resource support seems like a big risk. On closer analysis, the common result of introducing this new interactive component to the class, while it will certainly increase expectations, is to reduce behavior issues, and increase student interest and progress, making it easier for the teacher to accomplish more in the same amount of class time, and have more fun doing it. The result of achieving more in the same class time is to open up a new world of possibilities, most prominently, what to do with the increased interest and skills? It turns out that this serious concern will soon be replaced by some seriously fun, new options. As to the certification, distinguished music education institutions like the Victoria Conservatory of Music are already stepping in to provide very accessible online mentoring and certificates in the Adventus approach. More to follow.
14. What about competition with other instrumental activities, such as the recorder we already use in class, band which starts in grade 4, or a strings program that takes a few students from each of the district schools?
As with singing instructors, additional skills mean more options for students. It’s true that students will be more interested in continuing to higher levels if they can better relate to the way they are learning. Learning to read music with traditional strategies is not very successful on average, in part because getting students to practice with them is very challenging (ask any private studio instructor). Students today expect interactive feedback to assist with learning, and it makes sense to want that assistance. On the negative side, one may point to the ‘competition’ for time, but the MusIQ approach does not actually reduce class time, and the practice at home is in the order of 15 minutes daily. Having piano reading and performing skills is very unlikely to discourage students from participating in band/orchestra, quite likely the opposite - it will significantly increase participants in band/orchestra, and will also increase the level of work that can be attempted with the band/orchestra. Evidence of this in the testimony from a school principal below:
Statistical information regarding effects of the CMJ program in the George Jay public school – provided by the principal Leslie Lee:
The piano is an excellent foundation instrument, for a few key reasons. First, the piano is very accessible in that students can make satisfying sounds with the electronic piano keyboard as young as 3 years of age, even with small weak fingers. Second, if we are trying to create a foundation for all future music learning, we should aim at a foundation that addresses the whole language of music. Piano notation is arguably the best suited for providing a comprehensive foundation in music theory, involving two staves, treble and bass clefs, with different melodies, chords and rhythms in each hand and plenty of activity for all fingers on both hands. If a teacher can succeed with piano initially (as it appears the Adventus approach can), then transferring skills from the superset (the whole language) to a subset (the single note treble clef melody of a recorder, saxophone, violin, etc.) is a much smaller step. Third, the piano connects directly to the computer and the interactive MusIQ software creates a lot of value from the instant availability of digital information representing the notes the student is playing, their duration, their velocity and their pitch. Some software tries to make use of microphone input in an attempt to assist with feedback from any instrument, but microphone input is inherently delayed (it can’t be used for immediate feedback) and it’s also less accurate. Immediate feedback is very important, especially in the novice to intermediate development phases we’re considering, to the impact the interactive software can have on the learning process. Fourth, the electronic MIDI piano keyboard is now available for less than $100, cost competitive with a recorder, the cheapest instrument.
This is an important question. Even with all the obvious benefits, this addition to your program can’t succeed without support. There are different approaches used by schools to provide the first step, the in-school lab, and there are different approaches used to facilitate the provision of low cost keyboards and software for practice stations at home, which are highly recommended. In all cases the first step is to convince yourself as an educator that these benefits are worth providing to students. Because the financial resources are not nearly as challenging as they used to be. There are grants such as Title 1 that could fund some or all of the equipment under a school improvement program focused on improving behavior and math and reading, and parental involvement in education. There are outside partners, individuals who want to give back to their communities, who can independently fund a school lab on their own, or in collaboration with fundraising activities run by parents. Annual or monthly subscription licenses for schools and homes make it possible to pay for required equipment across a number of years. In summary, the funding support begins with the educator, and gains momentum with each person who understands the lifelong value to every student of integrating the Adventus approach. Every individual who takes a serious look at the results of well-run programs, and who considers the above questions and answers, is a potential champion of the upgrade to your music program. If your own efforts are unsuccessful at first, feel free to request support from Adventus (firstname.lastname@example.org) , the company offers online presentations of the software and teacher guidance, and online teacher training and product samples.