by Author Nick Wilsdon

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Music Technology on the Youth Music Network

Over the past century, technological developments have become increasingly integrated into all sorts of different creative practices across The Arts, and music is no exception.

Since the late 1920s, Music Technology has slowly shifted from being perceived as a bizarre sci-fi spectacle to commonplace - with each new development inevitably treated with suspicion before it is embraced. You only have to look back 30 years at early computer sampling technology to see the amount of skepticism about a creative process that is now a mainstay feature of contemporary music. During my time at Youth Music I’ve seen music technology used creatively and successfully across a plethora of different settings with a whole host of different target groups by those who are willing to open their arms to new-fangled instruments. What's more, the reporting from Youth Music grantees has echoed this trend, and we have seen a 10% rise in the use of music technology in funded programmes over the last two years.

Keith Emerson demonstrating the Fairlight in 1983

True to form, the more tech-savvy members of the Youth Music Network have been actively posting since its launch in 2011, and we’ve seen some great content to date. Simon Glenister of Noise Solution explained how his forward-thinking social enterprise uses games technology as an engagement tool for his work with hard to reach children, and provided a similarly enlightening case as to why he uses the financialy accessible sequencer Reaper. There are also some great articles centred around trainee experiences - for example Youth Music grantee Rhythmix have provided an insightful case study about the development of their Inclusive Technology training programme, delivered by Graham Dowdall.  For my own part, I have contributed a Rough Guide to Assistive Music Technology and some ideas of how a practitioner might start integrating it into their own practice.

The technology on offer to music practitioners continues to expand at a startling rate, and it is intended that this group can be a place for practitioners and enthusiasts alike to keep up to speed with developments. Only last week I was reminded of how quickly things move at Hertfordshire Music Service’s excellent ‘Music Technology Education Conference‘, when specialist Tim Hallas demonstrated some cheap/free web-based music making platforms appropriate for working with Early Years children such as Busy Things or Inudge (I defy you not to lose a good half hour tinkering with this one!)

So to get the ball rolling, I’d love to hear how you are using technology and why! How do the young people you work with engage with it? What bit of kit couldn’t you do without? What forthcoming gear are you excited about? How could we better engage with technology as a sector?