There is a lot of talk by record companies and in the media about the phasing out of CDs and DVDs and a move for streaming services like RDIO, PANDORA and SPOTIFY to take up the distribution of music through apps and the cloud.
As a music educator I worry....
I love that when I have a 'Hot little CD' in my hand I can rip a track, edit it up and then teach my Aural or Musicology lesson with a good quality recording and have the 'snippet' I need prepared & ready to go.
As a music educator, how will I edit down the small parts of a tune we need to dissect, discuss and analyse the Concepts of Music? How else can I maximise my teaching and students learning?
With a CD, my students can carry out their Musicological research with a simple three step process; Rip, Edit, Burn.
As an educator, how will I create an Aural Appreciation example if I have to negotiate around 'Rights management' and copyright protection on cloud bought Mp3s or streaming links?
The lazy teachers and students and the ones that do not care about sound quality will lean towards the YouTube downloaders; those are the little sites, addins and program's used to rip the degraded audio from a YouTube clip as an mp3, mp4 or FLV.
As a busy music teacher, I use these You-rips often when starting to write out the selection of tunes and charts chosen by my 30 odd music students in a short time frame. I often set the performance task for each term in week 1 and then have to help students get organised and chart out these 30 tunes in two weeks as the students need time to start learning the tunes.. Big job right?
So, when I need to actually learn the tunes properly I buy the track on iTunes or CD. Also, If I really like the tune or can see that I will be recycling it with other students in future years and the tune has that foreseeable longetivity and musical value I am quite happy to fork out the $$$.
Thinking back to 1985, when I was 13, I would save up my allowance and buy a tape for $9.99 or, if I had spent it all, a cassette single for a lot less. I would do this religiously every two weeks. I would also go bargain hunting through record shops and tape bins in every suburb I ever passed through. There was always an 'Easter egg' or two to be had in Kmart or Target stores.
My tape collection was so massive that I had two large bread trays from the local fish and chip shop under my bed housing all my tapes. They were all catalogued and in alphabetical order. For diversity, I borrowed random wild card tapes (and later CDs) from the local Bankstown Library.
In the 'Noughties' and 'Youtube generations' I have noticed that my students, simply go straight to YouTube and rip the song.
It's the sound source of choice. It's free. Or is it?
For students, especially low socio economic ones, it's accessible and it's only limited to the amount of data your connection has left for that month.
If I had .99c for every time a student said 'sir I can't download my song at home as I have been capped' I could open an online music store ... hang on? ...hasn't someone already done that?
Students don't always realise that by spending that .99c they ultimately have the tune for life - the bread tray in the cloud. Well, for as long as Apple and iTunes exist in any case.
They also don't realise that bandwidth downloads = indirect $$$
Q. who paid for that free download?
A. Mum and Dads 'net bill (maybe a good numeracy exercise in the next NAPLAN test).
Students! Have you calculated how much you are paying for that 'so called' free YouTube rip. You are not paying iTunes you are paying your ISP instead.
Where were we? ... oh yes ... We cannot use 'YouTube downloaders' or 'Mp3 rippers' in a music classroom. The sound quality is just not good enough.
It concerns me that students are used to degraded sound quality too. They don't know what a 24bit recording sounds like? They are used to that squashed distorted bass and hissy compressed highs. We are creating a generation of uneducated and illiterate listeners .... or are we?
One advantage of degraded and easily shareable small sound files is that the 21st century music student and listener have access to a much wider listening repertoire than I would ever have had in the 80s. I had to use the second TV set (black and white) and adjust the aerial to tune into "Countdown" at 6pm every Sunday night on ABC to catch the following weeks Top 10 and find out who was number 1 - no iTunes Charts then! I also watched "Rage" and Donnie Sutherland's "Sounds" for my popular music weekly dose.
Back to 2013, It's about the choice of YouTube track too. I often hear English and History staff (amongst other subjects) complaining that students don't know how to find quality resources and struggle to differentiate between quality websites and articles. It's the same with music and the 21C musician or listener. They need to be shown how to find a quality arrangement or performance of the tune they wish to perform; not a bad 'cover version' by a 9 year old kid who has a great Dad with brilliant video editing skills.
I recently did some method lecturing at University and most of the Bachelor of Music and Post Grad students were doing Micro-teaching sessions (peer lessons) using YouTube as their primary audio source. It had to be educated out of them even at the Tertiary level. How can you teach Aural by using a degraded film clip? Isn't it all about the audio?
Try putting a CD in your car radio on the way to work tomorrow and compare it to a streamed version of the same song. You will realise just how much of the top and bottom end of a song you are missing.
So, off the track a little, but what next? What will my 22nd century classroom sound like and how will I prepare my audio files at high quality for classroom analysis? Will I be able to? Maybe I need to stock up on CDs and put them in the cellar with the gas masks and water bottles.
I don't know. But I sure hope the CD and DVD/BLURAY formats hang around for a little bit longer.
Maybe we will be streaming WAV files in 2020? Wouldn't that be awesome?? Better upgrade that NBN and stock up on those external hard drives though.
External hard drives of endless WAV files seems a great option, however, Mr Windows, Mr Western Digital or Mr Apple need to create a USB Speed and HD speed that can cope with these large files. We are still waiting for hours to copy large files across onto our computers. It's one area that has not seen too much commercial development over the years.
Hey, maybe it's coming, I just need to be patient. It was only back in 1998 that I was waiting 1-2 hours to burn a CD at 1X and got excited when I upgraded to a new 2X burner for a few hundred bucks.
1998 feels like just yesterday but I just realised it was 15 years ago.