Listen to the future- can you hear its sounds?

Today’s Contributor: Aragorn Eissler.

Kealing CICAragorn Eissler is a composer, drummer and AISD Music Production teacher based in Austin, Texas. Eissler has played steel drums and studied Brazilian guitar, played in blues bands, organ trios, jazz and rock groups and sung in a choir. After training as a classical percussionist, witnessing an opera performance of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro planted the seed to do more, musically, and he began exploring the possibilities.

Innovative music teachers ask many interesting questions: Why are we following the same military style band paradigms from 100 years ago? Why do we only keep under the umbrella of Fine Arts- orchestra (400 years old), jazz band (90 years old), and possibly Rockestra (the Beatles and Stones were from 60 years ago) and exclude the new vanguard of music creation? Why are districts reluctant to include computer music composition, production, and performance? Why do my students LOVE to compose and create their OWN music, explore technology, listen to their favorite artists and mimic them, and own their creativity!

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In 2016 alone, SXSW’s economic impact on the Austin economy totaled $325.3 million. These breaking bands and musicians are making music in new ways: with software synthesisers, digital audio workstations, virtual instruments, and midi controllers. They are recording their music in studios and publishing it on the web. They are creating videos and collaborating over the internet. These are the frontiers we should allow our students to gain experience exploring. These are the challenges our next artists will face. And, this is where our students want to be. It is relevant to create music like your heroes – the Chainsmokers, Diplo, DJ Snake, and Skrillex.

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For many students, it may not be enjoyable to play THE note, for this long, this quietly, when I wave my arm at you. They long to create. They long to dream. They long to emulate what they hear on the radio or Spotify. And this is our opportunity! We can go through that open door with them, suggesting things along the way, “Hey, a chord progression is how others have made songs…  Why don’t you pick a scale to use in your piece…  A lot of composers build tension and then release.” We can allow them to explore, experiment, and engage in a new way with music. And, there are so MANY avenues to pursue: songwriting, video game sound design, production, performance, remixing, DJing, sound synthesis, film soundtracks, programming.

It is time for us to consider new ways to allow our students to experience, interact, and collaborate with each other musically. It is past time to understand that technology has provided vast new tools and we have a responsibility to let our students play with and master them.

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This is a brief exposition on a topic AISD teacher Aragorn Eissler  presented at a conference in Berlin, Germany November 10-12, 2017. “Beyond Curriculum- New Perspectives in Music Education”

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