A recent show on the ESPN television network featured a roundtable discussion with several famous veteran football players from the ’50s, ’60s ’70s and ’80s. The conversation focused, among other topics, on the use of weights and training, and whether it made the players of today better than the players of “yesteryear.” One of the older players stated that he simply did not believe that lifting weights and training made you a better football player. However, one of the more recent vets suggested that, although you may not be a better football player mentally, it is very likely you that would be a faster and stronger football player, overall – i.e. a better player. Could the same analogy be made regarding the use of technology in the field of music? Are we producing better singers today due to the access to technology products, including tuning, recording, and accompaniment devices, along with scoring, arranging, testing, and other software?
This question poses some thought provoking ideas. With accompaniment software readily available, the young singer has access to orchestral or piano accompaniment which was simply not as easily available or usable in the more primitive form of LPs or cassettes. Additionally, a student can now compose and arrange music on a laptop computer, take singing lessons on-line, upload videos of their performances to YouTube, and even record practice sessions in pristine digital sound all with equipment that is widely accessible and fairly reasonable in cost. Simply having access to this equipment has tremendous benefits. Compared to the technology of only twenty years ago, rather than hearing themselves on a wobbly sounding cassette recorder, students can adjust by hearing a more truthful rendering of their performance on a handheld digital recorder. Students can understand how to tune their instrument more effectively and train their ear to listen more carefully, and learn to solo with an ensemble, all in the privacy of their living room.
Having the proper equipment for learning and performing should become a part of every student singer’s tool kit, just as athletes utilize the latest advances in exercise equipment to tone and strengthen their muscles. Though the latest technology may not make the student a better musician, if used properly, it certainly could help them reach their full potential more quickly and efficiently.
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