What is it about?

What happens when you give Ableton Live and a Push to secondary school teachers? This research presents the findings from a 20-week project where secondary school teachers new to using Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs - music recording/editing software) learnt to use and create songs in it. This study analyses the experiences of the teachers and their progress. This paper concludes with future implications for supporting students making electronic music with the laptop as their instrument (Digital Musicians).

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Why is it important?

The findings of this study is significant for two reasons: First, it provides an example of of effective blended learning can meet the challenge for teachers living in remote areas to attend professional learning development. Second, it provides insight into the beliefs and values of teachers that are challenged by students who wish to use music software (Digital audio workstations) as either their main instrument, or at least an important part of their music creation and identity.


This study was the culmination for 10 years of teaching school students and training secondary school teachers in digital technology. It was a chance to respond in a different way from what I had done previously, in light of how making music has dramatically changed with increased access to resources along with new genres of music seemingly emerging each week. This study my reflection on what I could do as I saw how teachers were trying to navigate this challenging landscape as they chose what to include in their curriculum and what pedagogical approaches were best for their students, especially in electronic-based music. This study isn't THE answer, but provides an insight into how 20 hours of a well-designed professional learning development designed specifically for secondary teachers (by a former secondary school teacher) can greatly increase teacher confidence in using a recording/editing software (the DAW Ableton Live and the Push controller). It indicates that it could also be transformational for their beliefs about what music is and what that means for music education. At the very least, it helped the participating teachers, and this researcher, to better understand what music education is, and could be. Contact me for further insight into my current research on the relationship of how music teachers conceptualise music education and apply digital technology in the classroom.

Martin Emo
Victoria University of Wellington

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Ableton Live professional learning development for secondary school music teachers, Journal of Music Technology and Education, April 2022, Intellect,
DOI: 10.1386/jmte_00033_1.
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