SAMR for the Music Education Classroom

Technology was swiftly becoming an important tool for music education, even before the pandemic. As the crisis continues to upend music classrooms across the country, technology is now, and for the foreseeable future, a lifeline for educators and students.  The SAMR education model is a guide for leveraging technologies like devices, platforms, applications, and software in music education settings. If you’ve struggled to transition your teaching style to the challenges of the pandemic, SAMR can help give your efforts clarity and purpose.  

Breaking down the SAMR education model

Created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, SAMR separates and defines how technology is integrated into classrooms. Through the model, the use and purpose of technology in education is split into four categories: Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. SAMR is an excellent tool for transforming technology from a nebulous presence in the classroom into a powerful and effective asset. Using the model allows music educators to identify how technology is already being used in their teaching and how it can enhance lesson material. 

It’s important to note that SAMR doesn’t favor educators and students who are especially tech-savvy. It leaves room for growth for mastering specific technologies. Remember, something as routine and easy to use as video conferencing software is considered to be a piece of technology covered under this model. Today’s education-oriented technologies are powerful and helpful tools in the lives of students, they are not suitable replacements for the priceless experiences of students learning, creating and performing with musical instruments.

How the SAMR Model can be used in music education

Substitution 

Technologies that are used as substitutions are covered under this section of the SAMR Model. Tech-based substitutions can be as simple as substituting sheet music for a tablet or as challenging as bringing the music education experience online for remote learning. Using technology in education, can transform and update tasks, such as sending out an email newsletter instead of printing and distributing it by hand. 

Augmentation

Some technologies have the power to enhance the music education experience. These fall into the augmentation category, and this is where things get interesting for music educators. Prior to a decade ago, if you wanted your students to go home and practice along with a recorded piece of music, they’d need a physical CD or tape cassette. Today’s technology allows students to access audio recordings, song lyrics, instructional videos, and bespoke music education assets through applications or online. Educators can streamline time-consuming tasks and make learning easier by using websites like Soundcloud, which stores and streams audio, to utilizing music-specific software programs.

Modification

Through Modification, students and teachers are given tools to accomplish tasks they couldn’t have performed in traditional classroom settings. For example, arranging for a band or orchestra to perform student compositions in class isn’t feasible for most schools.  However, music notation software programs give students and teachers the ability to shape and listen to music featuring a seemingly endless array of instruments in an instant. Utilizing technology, students can collaborate with one another, work independently from their instructors, and engage with music in hugely beneficial ways.

Redefinition 

At this level of technology usage in music education, tools are created that wouldn’t be possible without the aid of technology. Software programs and apps that introduce music concepts, measure a student’s progress, and challenge them through games and exercises specific to their needs is one example. Having your students record performances at home and putting their tracks together to create a cohesive piece of music is another. 

The SAMR Model can help you understand the impact tech is already having on your classroom, and inspire you to use it in new and better ways. While nothing can replace the act of engaging with music, technology allows students to explore, create, analyze, and understand music in new and highly beneficial ways.

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