The University Record, July 19, 1993

Project Discovery will hone children’s ‘mouse, music’ skills

By Diane Swanbrow
News and Information Services

To play the piano, today’s child needs to develop good mouse technique and learn how to get around a computer keyboard, according to Barton Polot, an assistant professor at the School of Music.

Computer-based technologies are transforming traditional music education, says Polot, who is one of the instructors for Project Discovery, a July 25–30 workshop for area students, music teachers and school administrators sponsored by the School of Music and the Baldwin/Wurlitzer Co.

“Much of the music we’re hearing now, in recordings, film scores and even in concerts, uses computers, synthesizers and MIDIs—musical instrument digital interfaces,” Polot says. “Twenty years ago, a roomful of people would have been needed to create these sounds. Now, it takes one person and a floppy disc. It’s the new way of making music and our young people need to know how it’s done.”

“Project Discovery will focus on how computer-based technologies can help students learn and teachers teach,” notes Kelley Benson, a School of Music lecturer and Project Discovery coordinator. “Our aim is to bridge the gap between traditional piano studies and the new technologies.” In addition to Polot and Benson, associate professor of music and director of the Division of Keyboard Studies, Joanne Smith will also teach at the workshop.

At the School of Music’s micromusic lab, workshop participants will view computer screens that display tempo, dynamics and other performance attributes. If they’ve made a mistake, they can see it on the screen as well as hear it, according to Polot. With a click of the mouse, they can adjust their tempo and employ the entire orchestral palate.

“This computer technology is quite enfranchising,” says Polot. “It empowers amateur musicians to create music at the same level as professionals. Students with a minimum amount of keyboard skill can now make more music than ever before. It’s very inspiring to watch students begin to explore their own creative process and improve their performance skills with this new technology.”

To register for Project Discovery, contact Benson at 747-4301.