Employing technology in creative music making: Case studies of classroom applications

Angeliki Triantafyllaki, Victoria Rowe


This paper focuses on young children’s composing activities using new music technologies (the MIROR composition software). It presents findings from classroom case studies that explore the ways in which these music technologies can be implemented into existing curricula and debates the challenges that arise when teachers and students experiment with these. Two qualitative case studies explore 8-year-old pupils’ creative music making in the context of a Greek and British music classroom. Classroom observations and discussions with young children document the learning that takes place and pupils’ expressions of agency and voice. Key issues that arose across these largely different educational contexts were that: a) The use of multimodality allowed pupils to explore structure and form during composing activities, their movements shifting when listening to chunks of melodies or whole melodic forms. Children also learned to distinguish melodic detail in the composed melodies and sharpen their listening abilities through a breakdown of tasks; b) Technology assisted the teacher in developing children’s verbal ability in voicing the complex processes involved, and making informed and engaged artistic decisions. Teachers gradually built a common language using musical and extra-musical references to frame subsequent discussion, encouraging also pupils’ mindful engagement with the technology. The visualisation of pupils’ creative process allowed for anticipating what will be heard but also planning what will be played, hence enhancing the user’s sense of purpose when engaging with the technology; c) Technology provided pupils with an inclusive social space in which to experiment and discuss. It performed simple executive functions such as repeating or comparing different options, thus allowing pupils to make more complex musical decisions, even those with little prior musical training. In sum, the case studies, employing the musical software MIROR, allowed us to question current music education curricula, review the meaning of creativity, reassess the role of the teacher and imagine a more inclusive pathway for the 21st century young music learner.


composing; agency; technology; inclusion

Texto Completo:

PDF (English)


Barrett, M. (1996). Children’s aesthetic decision-making: an analysis of children’s musical discourse as composers, International Journal of Music Education, 28, 37-62.

Gall, M. & Breeze, N., (2007). The sub-culture of music and ICT in the classroom, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 16(1), 41-56, DOI:10.1080/14759390601168015

Gall, M. & Breeze, N. (2008). Music and eJay: An opportunity for creative collaborations in the classroom. International Journal of Educational Research 47(1), 27-40.

Glover, J. (2000). Children composing 4-14. Oxon: Routledge.

Glover, J. & Young, S. (1998). Music in the early years. London: Falmer Press.

Hewitt, A. (2009). Some features of children’s composing in a computer-based environment: The influence of age, task familiarity and formal instrumental music instruction. Journal of Music, Technology and Education, 2(1), 57–67.

Howell, G. (2011). ‘Do they know they’re composing?’: Music making and understanding among newly arrived immigrant and refugee children’, International Journal of Community Music, 4(1), 47–58, doi: 10.1386/ijcm.4.1.47_1.

Kim, E. (2013). Music technology-mediated teaching and learning approach for music education: A case study from an elementary school in South Korea. International Journal of Music Education, 31(4), 413-27.

Knudsen, J.S. (2008). Children’s improvised vocalizations: Learning, communication and technology of the self. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 9(4), 287-96.

Kratus, J. (1989). A time analysis of the compositional processes used by children ages 7 to 11. Journal of Research in Music Education, 37, 5-20.

Lamont, A. (2001). Musical identities and the school environment. In R. MacDonald, D. Hargreaves & D. Miell (Eds.) Musical identities. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.

Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2006). New literacies: Everyday practices and classroom learning. Maidenhead: Oxford University Press.

Major, A. (2007). Talking about composing in secondary school music lessons. British Journal of Music Education, 24, 165-178. doi:10.1017/S0265051707007437.

McPherson, G. (2002). From sound to sign. In R. Parncutt & G. McPherson (Eds.), The science and psychology of music performance (pp. 99–115). New York: Oxford University Press.

Muhonen, S. (2016). Students’ experiences of collaborative creation through songcrafting in primary school: Supporting creative agency in ‘school music’ programmes. British Journal of Music Education, 33(3), 263-281.

Pachet, F. (2016). Interacting with style. The MIROR software and its learning theories. In Rowe, V., Triantafyllaki, A. & Pachet, F. Children's Creative Music-making with Reflexive Interactive Technology. Oxon: Routledge

Rimmer, M. (2017). Music, middle childhood and agency: The value of an interactional–relational approach. Childhood 00(0), 1 – 15. DOI: 10.1177/0907568217711741

Rowe, V., Triantafyllaki, A., & Anagnostopoulou, C. (2015). Young pianists exploring improvisation using interactive music technology, 33(1), 113-30. Article first published online: June 24, 2014; Issue published: February 1, 2015


Ruthmann, A. (2008). Whose agency matters? Negotiating pedagogical and creative intent during composing experiences. Research Studies in Music Education. 30(1), 43-58.

Ruthmann, A. (2013). Exploring new media musically and creatively. In P.Burnard & R.Murphy (Eds.) Teaching music creatively. Learning to Teach in the Primary School Series. London: Routledge.

Trehub, S. (2006). Infants as musical connoisseurs. In G. McPherson (Ed.) The child as musician: A handbook of musical development (pp. 32-49). New York: Oxford University Press.

Trevarthen, C. & Malloch, S. (2012). Musicality and musical culture: Sharing narratives of sound from early childhood. In McPherson, G. & Welch, G. (Eds.) Oxford handbook of music education, Volume 1, (pp.248-60). New York: Oxford University Press.

Wallerstedt, C. (2013). “Here comes the sausage”: An empirical study of children’s communication during a collaborative music-making activity. Music Education Research, 15(4), 421-434.

Wiggins, I. & Espeland, M. (2012). Creating music in learning contexts. In G. McPherson & G. Welch (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of music education, Volume 1. (pp. 342-360). New York: Oxford University Press.

Wiggins, J. (2015). Musical agency. In G. E. McPherson (Ed.), The child as musician: A handbook of musical development (pp. 102–121). New York: Oxford University Press

Williams, P. Sheridan, S. & Sandberg, A. (2014). Preschool – an arena for children’s learning of social and cognitive knowledge, Early Years, 34(3), 226-240, DOI:10.1080/09575146.2013.872605

Young, S. (2009). Interactive music technologies in early childhood music education. In M.Baroni, A. R. Addessi, R. Caterina & M.Costa (Eds.) Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC9), August 22-26, Bologna, Italy.

Copyright (c) 2018 Music for and by children

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.