Given the ever-increasing ubiquity of digital devices in modern life, a central question for aural-skills pedagogy is how we might harness this technology to more effectively teach our music students. Moreover, many modern styles (especially popular music genres) have a strong technological component in their composition and performance. Yet because a significant portion of what occurs in the typical aural-skills classroom is active music making – for example, singing melodies and reading rhythms – technology may seem to distract from or overcomplicate what are usually direct and straightforward tasks. In this chapter, we examine some of the strengths and limitations of technology in the teaching of aural skills, highlighting recent research as well as discussing our own experiences and experiments.
The chapter is organized into three main sections. The first section considers the use of technology inside the aural-skills classroom. Projectors, smartboards, and tablet computers, for example, all promise more interactive classroom environments, but what implementations truly engender increased student engagement and ability? The second section considers the use of technology outside the classroom. Computer-assisted instruction – ranging from software packages to web sites to mobile apps – have allowed for an infinite amount of self-directed practice as well as automated assessment, but are certain skills more amenable than others to development and evaluation via these methods? Finally, the third section considers situations where the face-to-face classroom is replaced by technology, that is, technology ‘as’ the classroom. Mostly notably, online education threatens to be a major disrupter to the brick-and-mortar model of higher education, but how can institutions deliver aural-skills training in an online environment without compromising core competencies? We believe answers to these questions are critical for bringing aural-skills education into the twenty-first century in a way that maximizes the positive aspect of technological advances while minimizing negative, unintended side effects.