Musical Instrument Digital Interface Technology In Music Teaching Education Essay

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MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) was created in 1980s as a system to connect different synthesizers and sequencers together. (Ballora, 2003). Today it has widely used into various fields, involving videogame, mobile media, film, live performance and etc. Similarly, the improvement of MIDI technology in music education has been significant. It offers numerous opportunities and benefits to teachers and students in the process of teaching and learning. Additionally, there are limitations of MIDI that need to be paid attention to.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the integration of MIDI technology in music education. The paper presents a literature review of MIDI technology effect on music education; the benefits of using MIDI in music teaching and learning; the limitations of MIDI technology in education and some recommendations of how to utilize MIDI to better serve music education.

Literature review

Music technology has greatly advanced over the last decade, thus opening up new possibilities in music education. The technology of MIDI has infiltrated all levels of education. From classes for the youngest of children to classes for college music majors, MIDI has enabled instructors to develop new curricular for the teaching of music skills. MIDI enables the user to control musical parameters, thus allowing one to experience and create a great variety of music with a simple keyboard and computer. Computers can also "test" musical skills and provide instant and intuitive feedback. This opens the door for the development of a wealth of software designed for the pedagogy of music skills.

Mager (1997) researched the status of MIDI and technology in higher education. A vast majority of teachers responding to his questionnaire indicated that technology was enhancing student learning. Music theory was listed as one of the highest areas using technology, according to the study. The availability of several fine software programs, which can help to develop basic music skills, contributes to this. The respondents also felt that music technology will continue to play an increasing role in higher education.

Several studies have shown that computer-assisted instruction (CAI) is an effective tool for gaining music skills. Even as early as 1984, shortly following the invention of MIDI, studies began to determine the effectiveness of CAI in music education. John J. Deal's study at the University of Iowa determined that software could significantly help music majors develop skills in error detection (John, 1991). Chang also provided a study showing the increase of CAI in the music classroom (Chang, 2001). Using many surveys to back his hypothesis, he asserts that the use of CAI will increase the student's learning curve in music fundamentals.

To summarize briefly, most studies only focus on ….. it has not identified …..

Such as …..

This research will indicate three advantages of technology and MIDI used for the music courses.


3.1 Benefits:

Incorporating MIDI technology into the music curriculum helps achieve some objectives: students truly learn through experience by the use of synthesizer labs and workstations; they acquire skills and techniques as means of attaining ends which make direct vital appeal: the use of technology to serve art; and they certainly become acquainted with changing world, one in which computers are not confined to the electronic music labs in colleges and universities, but are used to make music for recordings, televisions, films, live performances and etc.

MIDI helps educators teach existing courses more effectively. The ability to create music for the class, project it on a screen, and play it back with high fidelity audio are made easier with these technologies (David 1991).

In the meantime, student utilizes MIDI to write their own music. During this process, MIDI enables them to revise, edit and highlight every note freely. The series of actions are accomplished by just moving the mouse and pressing the keys on keyboard. In

MIDI technology extends the range of music technology applications beyond the record keeping, teacher communication, preparation of paper handouts and teacher presentations that dominate today's uses for computers in music education.

Notation, accompaniment, and sequencing software gives students direct control over the elements of music-making melody, rhythm, harmony, tone color, dynamics, and form. It provides the tools to actively create and edit music and then easily hear what new material sounds like and how changes affect it. Synchronization of sight and sound under direct student control provides significant advantages over what might be achieved with paper, pencil, and other types of recordings. The ability to prepare interactive homework assignments stimulates the students' interest and increases their excitement about the music learning process. Computers and synthesizer technology make learning and practicing music more fun.

Technology and MIDI allow music students to be more actively involved in the learning process, instead of playing the role of passive listener. In a general lab, students can extend one-time or short-term creative activities into a composition process that continues over time. If students are not yet ready to use the symbols of staff notation to represent sounds, they can click icons into place on a "piano roll" grid or type the letter names of chords. Initial ideas can be generated and then edited and altered through a series of successive drafts into a finished, or composed, form. Using MIDI increases the number of students in a class involved simultaneously in the thinking and decision-making process. Students are challenged to make frequent choices and solve numerous problems regarding their projects or assignments rather than passively observing other students answering teacher questions or merely following the directions of the conductor during a rehearsal. This involves students in actively working with the elements of music, making decisions, and solving musical problems.

Technology and MIDI also allow educators to provide the students with skills they will need to meet some of the challenges of music industry in the future.

4.configuring a MIDI setup is straitforward and inexpensive.

MIDI and music courses

In the following part, this report will present the details of how can MIDI help in music technology courses, composition courses and music history courses.

MIDI and music technology courses

Sound recording courses, for music students who want to familiar with recording technology, can certainly benefit from the use of MIDI to augment the number of "tracks" available for recording. This is accomplished by the capability of computers to record musical performances into "virtual" tracks that are performed by synthesizers, drum machines, and samplers. These virtual tracks are then added to the tape tracks, used to record vocals, guitars, winds, and percussion instruments, making even small studios sound like larger recording facilities.

Sound design and synthesis courses can also benefit from the use of computers. The graphics capabilities and the high audio quality of computers and digital audio boards allow teachers to demonstrate concepts such as additive and subtractive synthesis, wave editing, and sampling.

MIDI and composition courses

Composition courses can benefit in several ways from use of technology and MIDI. Using sequencer software, students can hear their music as they write it. Modern synthesizers, sound modules, and samplers provide immediate access to a great variety of orchestral instruments, thus benefiting orchestration courses. Notation software (one type of music software utilizing MIDI technology) can be used to prepare scores and individual parts for performance. Music student can use algorithmic composition software and digital converters to "perform" their ideas.

MIDI and music history courses

There are numerous programs, many of them available on CD-ROM format that allow music history educators to present information about composers, their biographies, and their work. Students can see pictures, read background information, hear the music, or watch the score. The music can be stored in MIDI format, so that the students can hear the whole score, or any of the individual parts, or just a small segment. The student can also print scores, biographical information, or comments or reviews from music historians or musicologists


There are several issues that need to be considered by music educators and institutions about music technology and MIDI.

As educators attempt to learn how to use the technology that currently exists in the music industry, and how to integrate these technologies into teaching of music courses. However, the information changes rapidly and is available from many different sources. It becomes very hard for the music educator to keep up-to-date.

Regarding MIDI itself, there are also several issues to consider:

The cost of acquiring the instruments and facilities (recording studios, workstations) and updating the programs

The amount of space required to house the instruments

Sound quality that differs greatly from that of acoustic instruments

In terms of MIDI sound quality, there are two contrasting views. Some students thought that "the sounds created using the synthesizer were not an attempt to imitate a real instrument but, rather, had possibilities to create exciting new sonorities." So whether the sounds were realistic or not seemed to be unimportant to them. The others asserted that the realism of sounds played an essential role in music composition. They needed the realistic sounds to inspire them and the realism of timbres for these students equated closely with the quality of their final product.

The use of MIDI keyboard is the major issues.

Some students considered that MIDI keyboard was not an ideal input device for them, because they lacked keyboard skills and they found it was difficult to use a keyboard to play some instruments, like drums.

In terms of MIDI sound quality, there are two contrasting views. Some students thought that "the sounds created using the synthesizer were not an attempt to imitate a real instrument but, rather, had possibilities to create exciting new sonorities." So whether the sounds were realistic or not seemed to be unimportant to them. The others asserted that the realism of sounds played an essential role in music composition. They needed the realistic sounds to inspire them and the realism of timbres for these students equated closely with the quality of their final product.

4. Recommendation

There are many good reasons for the integration of music technology and MIDI into the curricula of traditional music programs as well as in to music technology programs. However, this report will give a few suggestions about the potential of the integration of music technology and MIDI into music programs.

The first recommendation is the development and implementation of an introductory course on MIDI designed for music education, composition, performance majors. This course would emphasize practical experience. For example, the students should (1) learn the basic computer skills needed to run MIDI software on a personal computer, how MIDI can help transfer data to and from computer, (2) become familiar with some of the CAI programs available and how these programs exercise required to master some of the basic music concepts, and (3) learn how the basic principles of MIDI sequencing and notation can be used to facilitate the teaching and learning of basic music skills like harmony, counterpoint.

Secondly, internet access should be included in the curriculum. MIDI……Based on research of Mager, he believes that the internet plays an important role in music education, and in the future it will play a much greater role (may be essential one) than it does today (Mager 1997). The explosive growth of World Wide Web and its multimedia interactive capabilities, like exchanging information, transferring files, research data gathering, will make internet an invaluable tool for music education. Once all educational institutions are wired for internet communication, the distribution of music and information about music will change dramatically. Music and information can be stored in computers and made available for downloading instantly and at faster speeds than it is today.

5. Conclusion

Music technology and MIDI are there to waiting educators to explore, learn, and take advantage of them, to make lecture better teachers and to make students ready for the challenges that they will face as musicians in the future.