Music Technology at the Middle School

by Ipek Serifsoy, Kiddo! Parent Volunteer


You may have heard the hype about the popular new Music Technology elective course at MVMS this year — a class that has garnered full enrollment of 80+ kids despite being offered for the first time this year. The middle school elective, open to all 6th through 8th graders, is funded entirely by Kiddo! and is taught by music teacher, Cayce Carnahan.  The class is designed to introduce students to the world of digital audio and computer recording. Both Cayce and the students participating in the new program are enthusiastic about this exciting combination of music appreciation, composition, music production and technology.

When Cayce came to MVMS 15 years ago, he brought a strong sense of purpose to expand the reach of music benefits to more kids.  As Band Director, he has been able to introduce music to a number of elementary and middle school students through instrument lessons and group band practices.  However, with the growth of technology and the increased availability of music technology, Cayce found an opportunity to offer the benefits of music to an even broader range of kids through this class.

Music Technology is first and foremost a music composition class where kids learn music theory and music appreciation.  Cayce intends to “to open up their ears to what’s actually happening in music so when they listen to it they have a different level of appreciation.”  Given the feedback from his students, he appears to be succeeding beautifully in this endeavor!  Josie, who plays saxophone in the jazz band, explained that “being limited to one instrument [can] shorten your idea of what is out there…when I’m playing saxophone I usually just focus on my part and then I don’t really hear a lot of the other parts.  Music Technology makes you focus on all the little components that are involved in making a great song.”

In this innovative class kids work with iPads and apps like GarageBand and Tape Software to make music.  Working in teams of 2-3 they collaborate on exciting projects like creating a movie trailer for which they write mood music with the assistance of apps. In the process, they learn about music essentials such as: melodies, hooks, harmonies, etc.

Another fun project this year will be writing a pop song where kids learn more about chord structure, form, and lyrics.  A third project will provide kids with the opportunity to blend songwriting and working with a soundboard and mixing software.  In addition to their in-class project work, these kids also have access to the music room during recess, lunch and Panther Time to practice using actual instruments like drums, guitars and keyboards.

This added perk of being able to use the studio appeals to kids like Bodie, who used to play drums and wants to learn guitar. Bodie loves GarageBand, and inspired by the techniques he learned in this class, now makes a lot of remixes of songs at home. He adds “you don’t know how much you’re capable of until you try.”  To further their music appreciation, students are also required to see a live music performance during the year.

Cayce’s vision for this class extends to building a fuller Music Tech curriculum. For instance, next year he’s planning to offer an Intermediate Music Tech class in collaboration with the state-of-the-art recording studio at MVCC next door. Second year kids will be able to further enhance their education by working with advanced professional equipment and software while deepening their understanding of music theory.

The artistic and technological creativity fostered by the Music Technology class is inspiring. As is common knowledge by now, music education offers not just strong intrinsic benefits but also enhances our kids’ academic intelligence. Cayce is fully aware of the importance of music in our kids’ lives – visit his website to learn more about the benefits of being a musical person.

We’re very fortunate to have Cayce and other resources to develop our kids’ musicality!   The entire music program, including our new Music Technology class, is funded by your donations to Kiddo!