As part of our #ComposeWithDorico campaign, we’ve given schools around the country copies of our entry-level music notation software Dorico Elements.

Here, we offer tips and advice for music teachers so that they can get the most out of Dorico Elements, focusing in particular on two of the crucial challenges of teaching music – how do teachers convey their own musical knowledge to students, and how do teachers give students the right framework to explore and create for themselves?

#1 – Helping Students to Understand Music

One of the most common hurdles faced by a music teacher is communicating their own musical knowledge and experience to students in a way that is simple, and understandable.

With Dorico Elements, it’s easier for teachers to produce the learning materials and arrangements they need for this very task. There is also a wealth of useful learning resources online, which are highly recommended to teachers. As well as the entries on this blog, there are a number of tutorial videos from our YouTube channel that offer clear visual demonstrations of how to get to grips with the features of our composing software. As any teacher will already know, everyone learns differently, and having access to both visual and text-based resources can be a huge advantage.

Teachers can also use the software to demonstrate to their students the connection between music notation, and the music that it is heard. While some students may already be familiar with how a piano roll looks in other applications, such as GarageBand or Cubase, they may not yet have the same mental association between this and notation.

Being able to switch between views for piano roll and music notation allows teachers to clearly establish this connection by connecting the auditory feedback of playback, with the more abstract graphical appearance of the piano roll, and then finally the notation.

#2 Helping Students to Explore Music

Once you’ve successfully given the students the tools they need to develop an understanding of the more fundamental aspects of music, the next challenge is to provide them with a space that allows them to put it into practice in an effective way.

More than almost any other academic subject, music requires giving students the space to explore musical ideas and possibilities for themselves, within a broader structural framework. For teachers, Dorico Elements is an ideal tool for building this kind of framework – the simple, uncluttered way that it is organised musically creates the ideal space to learn the basics of notation and composition simply by exploring the functions and user interface.

For example, teachers can quickly prepare exercises to complete using the software, such as providing them with a musical motif or phrase, and asking them to write an answering phrase, harmonise it, or provide a counter-melody written on a contrasting instrument. Or, for students less experienced in this area, they can be encouraged to use the software to appraise the material, by creating accompanying words and images.

These two approaches to using Dorico Elements in the classroom will help teachers to tackle the two sides of musical understanding – not just the practical experience of creating music, but a practical and engaging way of exploring the underlying ideas and concepts.