Year 2 music: Virtual music instruments

What are future composers like?
"The Composer" - Jennifer Main (1999)
We have left the era when composers created by writing music note by note on manuscript paper. Nowadays, composers with computer keyboards using computer softwares. Furthermore, many composers nowadays may not even know music theory. They compose with MIDI and audio programs; they write great music!

Sometimes, as a classroom music teacher, I always question whether I am really preparing them for the future of music by teaching them theory the traditional way.

I tend to stand at a position that I should still teach them theory, so that they understand how people write music in the past. But as importantly, I need to make them realize that there are many ways to compose music.

When I show them virtual instruments like the one below, I keep telling them that it's FAKE (because it looks so real). These virtual machines are more about computer engineering than music composition; but it's in no doubt that they make quite beautiful music! This one, The Pipe Dream, is my favorite among other songs that you can find on Animusic's youtube site. As its official website says, these music machines are not particularly designed for any age group. I find children would enjoy this one since there are so many balls bouncing around. =)

Children are completely blown away by this machine. They keep saying, "wow! I can't believe this!" So I tell them, "maybe some of you will become a scientist or a computer engineer one day, but it doesn't mean that you can't continue to think of cool ways to compose music and amaze the world!" =)

By the way, to answer children's question "How'd they do that?" Here's how the virtual instrument is built on computer.

Anyhow, composing the traditional way is still easier for children to fathom. To make this experience more fun and rewarding, many famous symphony orchestras around the world have put in a lot of resource into developing their kids sites. When it comes to understanding the elements of music and the basics of music composition, The San Francisco Symphony's Kids Site  is certainly the best!