The International Business Machines Corporation is testing a new, computer-based instructional system that is designed to help middle-school students understand the relationships between music, mathematics, and science.
As part of a pilot project in a New York City intermediate school--supported by a $400,000 I.B.M. grant--students will use Ps/2-based software developed by Jacob T. Schwartz, a computer expert and a professor at New York University, to compose music.
The system combines the specially developed software with a sound synthesizer to allow students without any musical training to compose their own melodies.
The machine will play music the students have composed on their choice of a variety of "instruments" or build complex compositions such as might be played by a band or orchestra.
It also analyzes the finished composition to provide comparisons between the rhythm, harmony, and pattern of the musical structures used with analogous structures in the fields of math and science.
The new software, according to Mr. Schwartz, will help increase students' "personal involvement in computers and also in the modes of thought used in math and science that are inherent in composing music," he said.
Mr. Schwartz, an amateur composer, is working closely with Florence Mann, who manages the city's public school technical assistance centers, and with city teachers, to devise a new curriculum around the technology and to create teacher manuals and workshop guides that demonstrate how to use the new approach.
A California software developer has published a new book to help music teachers incorporate computers into their instructional programming and is distributing the work free of charge to any music educator.
"Computers and the Music Educator: A Curriculum and Resources Guide," was written for Digidesign Inc., a Menlo Park company, by David Mash, the assistant dean of curriculum of academic technology at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
The 91-page book, which is aimed at computer novices, is designed to show music educators how to incorporate microcomputers into the curriculum, what hardware and software are available, what types of courses benefit from using technology, and how to get started with computer-based teaching.
In addition to suggested lesson plans, the book also includes a section on resources for music educators and a listing of such texts and references as Foundations of Computer Music and The Art of Electronic Music.
Copies of Mr. Mash's book may be obtained by calling Digidesign Inc.
at (415) 688-0629.