When you attend a conference or convention, one of the major benefits is networking time with other people in your profession. As music educators, we get tied into our jobs and our location, and we seldom get the chance to work with other music teachers. As a result, I think the vendor area at conventions is just as important for music educators as the sessions themselves. Not only do you get to see the “latest and greatest” from vendors, but this is also where you run into other teachers and can talk to them. The only challenge is if you work in a smaller state with a smaller convention, you will also have a smaller vendor area, and you will likely not have all the “major” vendors represented at your convention. For this reason alone, make a trip to the Texas MEA (largest in the country)…and additionally TI:ME (the technology organization for music education) has been holding its national convention there (San Antonio) in mid Februrary (I cannot attend the convention this year, and let me tell, you in a winter of extreme Minnesota sub-zero weather, how nice it would be to go to San Antonio in a few weeks).
At any rate, one of the special “bonuses” for me at the Illinois Music Education Convention was to be able to talk to the representatives from Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnias, Illinois, just south of the Chicago metro area. Olivet Nazarene became the first university this fall to have a music department go all-iPad, as a test pilot for the entire university to consider iPads. I had originally read about Olivet Nazarene in a few blogs this fall, and Hugh Sung at AirTurn had a great video podcast with the chair of the Olivet Nazarene music department, Dr. Don Reddick.
Olivet Nazarene was a vendor at the IMEC, and I had a chance to visit for a few minutes with Dr. Reddick and a few other staff members from the college. As I write about (and talk about in presentations), the number one way to use iPads in music is as a replacement for sheet music. It isn't a terribly advanced concept of technology integration, but for musicians who have to carry sheet music, folders, gig books, and bound scores, moving music from paper to digital is a blessing, both in terms of organization and in limiting what you need to carry. From our discussion, I would say that this holds true with Olivet Nazarene as well, allowing the college to move from paper music to digital sheet music. At their annual performance of the Messiah, they actually used a 21″ iMac for the director to conduct from (a year from now, this might be two iPad Pro models used in conjunction with the dual page turning of unrealBook) while every student used an iPad for their music. The one interesting piece is that all choral singers performed with a bare iPad, because students all had their own cases and they wanted a uniform look for the performance (students bought their own cases).
Their app of choice for music PDFs is forScore, and like many institutions, they are either using music that is in the public domain, or they are buying paper scores in excess of what they will ever use and converting one score to a digital copy. They have sets of AirTurn foot pedals, I believe enough for one ensemble at a time.
I know they are using Notability as a tool as well, but I am not sure how the iPads are being used in other classes such as music theory, ear training, music history, or composition classes. I may ask for permission to visit the college in the Spring, and see for myself. I know I would be incorporating Notion into my composition classes, and all kinds of apps into my music education classes.
I think about my collegiate experience (which I loved) as a double major in voice and tuba. I remember lugging around a rather large portfolio of music which included my vocal books and my tuba music. That portfolio was heavy, and all the stress on the bag also resulted in music that was damaged. An iPad would have been great for taking notes in all my classes, for presentations and projects, and would have been particularly wonderful for my music. Most of my vocal music was already in the public domain. Therefore, I am envious of the resource that has been given to music students at Olivet Nazarene University. I hope they know how lucky they are (I think they do).
Make sure to check out Hugh Sung's interview with Dr. Reddick.