This is the final instalment in this 4-part blog series about Cadenza – a free online resource that has been known to help students practice more frequently and more effectively.
This article is written by Professor Rena Upitis (Ed.D. Harvard), a Professor of Education at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario, Canada), who is the Principal Investigator for the research and development of Cadenza.
In some ways, not much will change, at least not in any fundamental way. Students will still come to lessons, and between lessons, our students will often still struggle to find the time and the motivation to practise. Cadenza will help, but it isn’t a “silver bullet.” That being said, two important things are likely to change. And these are important changes, indeed. Let’s start with the students.
We have observed, time and again, that once students start using Cadenza, they practise more frequently and more effectively. This happens for a number of reasons. Some of the students are attracted to the layout of the tool, the use of emojis, and the possibility of earning badges for completed practices. Other students like knowing that their teacher can see how they are progressing, and when teachers comment during the week, students find it motivating to practise just a little more. And still others are motivated by the Notemaker/Media Annotator feature of Cadenza, which was briefly described in the first blog of this series.
As I commented in the opening post, when students are planning to make a video upload for their teacher, they typically practise the excerpt numerous times before they upload it, even though only their teacher will see the video. And by doing that, they’re accomplishing a very important thing: more dedicated practising!
Some teachers using Cadenza have also reported that those students who use it diligently also perform better on music examinations. This is something we’ll be watching closely over the next year or two, as we learn more from student and teacher users.
I’ve talked about teachers responding to student comments and reflections, and annotating video material uploaded by students, both of which happen during the week between lessons. Teachers often ask us if using a tool like Cadenza will mean more work for them. Well, yes, at the outset at least, there is work involved in setting up accounts. And no matter how straightforward the process might be, technology has a way of throwing a wrench into things when we least expect it!
But setting up the accounts is one thing, and responding to students between lessons is something else entirely. We have watched teachers do this with great success, setting up a time for what they call a mid-week check in, where they might comment on a reflection or annotate a video.
These mid-week reflections tend to happen on Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons, when the teacher takes a couple of minutes for each student and prods them – with meaningful feedback – as they prepare for their upcoming lessons. Many teachers have incorporated the mid-week check-in into their billing system, so that for a term of tuition, they charge a set monthly fee that includes lessons, a recital, a make-up lesson, and a number of mid-week check ins. This system means that teachers are compensated for the extra time. It also signals to parents that there is feedback and follow-up during the week. Sometimes parents forget that lessons are not a once-a-week activity, in contrast, for example, to soccer practices, where students show up but aren’t expected to do much between practices. And when parents provide support, students generally prosper.
We have prepared a short video on the mid-week check-in and suggestions for billing.
Other videos about Cadenza and pedagogy appear on our YouTube channel Music Tool Suite – click here.
We hope you enjoy using Cadenza, and also, that you’ll explore other tools in the Music Tool Suite. Here is a brief video, describing them all – click here.
Please share your stories and suggestions…
We’d be so happy to hear from you! You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click HERE to register for a FREE live webinar with Professor Rena Upitis on Thursday 12 January at 7-8pm (GMT), hosted by The Curious Piano Teachers