Bridging the gap between artistic craft and technical skill, IUPUI’s Schools of Engineering & Technology and Education recently partnered with Matchbook Learning at Wendell Philips 63 to offer both a brand-new program as well as an exciting first look into the welcomed return of a community favorite — the Music Technology Academy.
Originally established in 1996 under the auspices of the Department of Music & Arts Technology as a community outreach program, IUPUI and the surrounding community have seen the Music Technology Academy take on many forms throughout the years. However, despite its successes, the project ultimately went on an extended hiatus in the early 2010s due to departmental changes and logistic challenges. But as STEM continued growing and further transformed into STEAM (adding the arts to science, technology, engineering and math), so did the field of education’s recognition of art and science working together in tandem within a more engaging curriculum.
Assistant Professors of Music & Arts Technology Daniel Walzer and Timothy Hsu noticed such trends and sought to revitalize the sleeping giant. Thanks to funding from IUPUI’s Research Support Funds Grant program, Walzer & Hsu collectively created and hosted two weeklong camps offered to a group of 9 middle school students in the Indy area.
Realizing the scope of such a feat grew to incorporate music and teaching alike, the project soon became a collaboration between the School of Education and the Music Technology Academy. “The beauty of an interdisciplinary approach,” says Clinical Associate Professor Dr. Monica Medina “is that it is very student-centered.” Dr. Medina would go on to state that in this focused pairing of musical and pedagogical lenses the diversity of faculty would not only encourage learning but also make for a more creative and inquisitive environment.
The assembled team would go on to be armed with audio software, MIDI keyboards, USB microphones, and a small handful of PhD and undergraduate students as well as preservice teachers from the School of Education acting as mentors. While to the uninitiated this may seem like limited means, the group’s collective expertise in both music and programming utilized such materials to their fullest extent. “A lot of my background going into this project was looking at how we can use music to improve STEM self-efficacy,” says Walzer when looking back at the catalyst of this project.
Said improvements become instantly recognizable when looking at the daily tasks within the week-long camps as students are introduced to the ins and outs of coding. From building beats to producing podcasts, the camp proved to teach more than rhythm and musical form through sequences and patterns.
Walzer went on to state that “the aim of the research is to understand how using music and media in an informal learning environment might improve confidence in math and science in middle school kids over time,” but further insisted that “the primary goal of the camp was to ‘plant seeds’ and have fun.”
It is with such planted seeds that the group not only is excited to submit proposals for further extramural funding in the coming months but continue to grow the academy into a communal hub that nurtures the interdepartmental curiosities of the city as a whole.
Find out more about Music Technology Academy by visiting: https://et.iupui.edu/departments/mat/research/music-technology-academy