Memorial University’s Distance Education and Learning Technologies (DELT) is invading the online music scene through a partnership with the School of Music.
The result of $31,472 in funding granted through the Inukshuk Fund, provided by Inukshuk Wireless, Memorial will soon be offering music theory tests via the Internet. The project aims to create a suite of freely available online tests for both students and teachers.
“The primary basis of the tests developed for the project will be the entrance examinations given to aspiring music students wishing to formally study at Memorial University’s School of Music,” said Kjellrun Hestekin, assistant professor in the School of Music and content expert for the project.
Traditionally, students interested in attending the School of Music at Memorial were required to physically visit the St. John’s campus to audition and complete a music theory test as part of their application process. Now, applicants will be able to complete the theory portion online, a true convenience for those who are not in close proximity to the St. John’s campus.
“The idea is also to give students a sense of their own strengths and weaknesses in music theory, helping them to identify the areas where additional study may be needed,” said Prof. Hestekin. “Essentially, we will be offering an interesting and interactive way of self-testing music knowledge in a self-paced environment with immediate results and feedback.”
The initial request for funding and subsequent project stems from the reality that while many students applying to School of Music at Memorial demonstrate strong foundations as players and singers, many also exhibit weakness in terms of music theory, an essential skill for anyone seeking formal education in music. The project will involve the creation of an online library of 15-20 interactive aural and theory tests.
Dr. Tom Gordon, director of Memorial’s School of Music, is optimistic that the online tests will help build the skills and confidence needed by music students to continue their musical endeavours and potentially the pursuit of post-secondary studies and/or a career in music.
The project will also address the pressing need for increased and more refined skills in the cultural area of music throughout Newfoundland and Labrador and the Atlantic Region.
Ann Marie Vaughan, director, DELT said she was quite pleased to hear that funding had been granted for the project. “We are excited to be helping to promote an appreciation for music theory and greater interest in music generally, not only through providing accessibility but also by making the online tests interesting and fun for students, one of our goals for the project,” she said.
Presently, there are a limited number of music courses offered to students at the secondary level throughout the Newfoundland and Labrador education system. However, Ms. Vaughan says with recent advances in interactive teaching technologies the idea of developing full credit courses for music students to be delivered via distance education is actually quite possible. Exploratory feasibility studies have yet to be conducted but Ms. Vaughan is looking optimistically to the future and the potential benefit to the cultural development of music students and teachers throughout the entire spectrum of Newfoundland and Labrador’s education system. Dr. Gordon supports Ms. Vaughan’s vision and looks forward to one day collaborating on such a project, perhaps integrating this initiative with the innovative work of the province’s Centre for Distance Learning Innovation.