I am always looking at ways for making music technology more accessible for my students. The problem for me and many other schools offering music technology is three fold:
1. A large majority of A Level Students have never used music technology for serious music production. At my school the first time they get to use music technology is when they start their A Level (This puts them up against it from day one).
2. The range of instrumental / vocal ability is huge. Each year my class is made up of singers, drummers and guitarist. Guess which instrument I force them to learn? The only instrument I offer them is a keyboard.
3. The music theory knowledge amongst my students is from none to grade 5 music theory. I normally start my A Level course with an introduction to music theory in combination with music technology.
Finding a better solution
The solution that I’ve been looking for is one that makes each of the above points easier to absorb in a more fun and relevant way. The method must be easy to learn for those students whose natural instrument isn’t the piano / keyboard and the music theory must be transferable, like the transpose button on a keyboard or pattern playing on the guitar.
In the past I have looked at MIDI guitars (That are close to useless), Drum pads (that take more setup than the time needed to learn them), plus a number of other software / hardware options. All of which have almost always confused the issue more than helped it.
Welcome to the Finger Drumming Generation
Over the past five years or so the popularity of finger drumming has grown and grown. My first experience of these devices was an introduction to the original M-Audio Trigger Finger.
Since then I have been watching the progress of these devices, all of which haven’t quite fulfilled my requirements. Finger Drumming products of interest:
- Novation Launchpad Pro
- M-Audio Trigger Finger Pro
- Native Instruments Maschine
- Ableton Push
Let me introduce you to Ableton Push
To put it simply, Ableton Push is the product that is going to level the playing field for my students whose main instrument isn’t a piano / keyboard. It also resolves a few of those common problems with students learning music theory, this is probably the first instrument that actually makes learning music theory fun.
I have put together a series of tutorials that will show you the huge potential of Ableton Push in the classroom for A Level Music Technology and other popular music projects.
Basic Music Theory with Ableton Push
Using Ableton Push for Production
Using Ableton Push with other DAW’s
Ableton Push Demos