Shedding Light on Music Technology

One of the lesser known A-level choices at Nottingham High School, ‘Music Technology’ has been the subject of many a rumour since its introduction to the Sixth Form curriculum back in 1997, coinciding with the opening of the Lady Carol Djanogly Music School.  With a view to dispelling some popular misconceptions – including the suggestion that it is ‘simply a doss’ – the main purpose of this article is to clarify just what goes on in Music Technology lessons, and how these lessons are carried out.

According to Edexcel, the school’s examination board for the subject, the two-year course aims to provide pupils with ‘an understanding of the technical processes and principles that underpin music technology’.  The majority of the course is based around the use of electronic devices and computer software in order to digitally produce music.  Over the year students work towards making a 3-track EP, with each of these tracks constituting a separate task testing different abilities:- for example one project requires students to make use of a variety of different microphones and audio capture techniques.

A-levels being a step towards degree level, Music Technology is apt in its integration of greater levels of freedom and independence into the course.  Whilst students are able to choose the basis of their projects and the order in which they are to be completed, they are also expected to carefully manage their time throughout the year, and are presented with strict coursework deadlines which must be met.

The style of learning, too, is an interesting feature of the subject, and sets it apart from others as being more like university education.  On occasion the class will meet for a seminar on a given topic, or to outline lesson objectives, but generally the 1-hour periods are relatively self-structured and require pupils to organise themselves and keep focus on the task at hand.

As a result organisation is one of the key skills pupils develop from their studies in Music Technology.  Alongside this, the course is a great way of enabling students to foster a greater appreciation and understanding for the music they would otherwise listen to without further thought on a daily basis.  One entire examined module within the course is devoted to the study of popular music, including its development and the techniques that go into its production, with students sitting an exam entitled ‘Listening & Analysing’ at the end of the AS year.

First and foremost, however, Music Technology A-level provides students with insight into the techniques used in the recording industry – but also the wherewithal to apply them to their own music – and an awareness of the advancement of associated equipment including the advent of the modern recording studio.

By Jonathan Theuring

To listen to some of Jonathan’s

Image by Arts Electronica

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