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The Evolution of Musical Tools

June 21, 2021

If you grew up before the iPod was invented, you may remember the decline of cassette players and record players, the latter of which is currently experiencing increased popularity as more people turn to vinyl for a revival of sound quality and the tactile experience of music enjoyment. This infographic maps the development of music technology and how it has taught us to interact with music.

Relics like the 4-track tape machine were used to record, play tracks reel-to-reel, and enjoy other people’s tunes. Now people can share audio and video on streaming platforms like YouTube, Spotify, and SoundCloud, among others. They can even make their own music with digital audio workspace software like GarageBand. Music education tools have benefited immensely from innovations like these and more, but there have been notable challenges associated with integrating them into the classroom. For more information, please read our article about how to engage students using music education technology.

In a quickly-evolving musical world, it is important to honor past inventions while anticipating future ones. Check out the infographic below for some inspiration, or use it as a visual when your students are ready to delve into the world of music history. Let technology help you teach better.

Interested in discovering new pedagogical practices and trends in music education?  Discover the online master’s degree in music education from the University of Florida.

Infographic describing the evolution of musical tools from 1967 onward

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As you can see from our infographic above, the way in which music is recorded and consumed has evolved rapidly over the past 50 years.

The fact is, with the internet and the recent flowering of solid, inexpensive education technology, it’s easier than ever for students to learn music. Most modern music teachers are embracing these new technologies as part of their every day teaching practices. It’s easy to see why when you consider some of the ways that modern technology has made learning easier and cheaper:

  • We’ve gone from heavy text books and perhaps videos or DVDs, to suites of interactive music tools and downloads which are free and accessible on any device.
  • One-track approaches to learning are giving way to blended-learning due to the introduction of innovative games, educational apps and high quality (often free) video content.
  • Gone are the days of expensive accessories that hiked up the cost of tuition. These days students are able to use a free online metronome instead of a wooden one and an interactive piano chord finder instead of lugging around a heavy chord dictionary.
  • Once upon a time you needed an accompanist or a band in order to practice your part in context. Now there are backing tracks and even apps that offer full midi bands.
  • Ear training and pitch recognition has changed from something delivered by a teacher, in person, to something gamified by a host of great apps.

Related Content: How to Engage Students Using Music Education Tools and Technology

A look back over the evolution of music tools shows that we’re living in an exciting period for music education. Innovation has never been more rapid or varied and, as a result, more students are being delivered the learning methods that are right for them.

About the University of Florida’s Online Master of Music in Music Education

The University of Florida’s Online Master of Music in Music Education program is designed with the evolution of music education in mind. In addition to covering a broad array of music genres, the program’s curriculum explores advanced concepts in music education psychology, instructional design, and technology in the music classroom. The faculty include instructors from a diverse range of professional backgrounds— from professional musicians to internationally recognized music education researchers and authors.

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