McNichol, Alistair (2014) Digital technology for composing at key stage 3 music: opportunities for creative thinking? Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Digital technology has revolutionised music composition over recent years and continues to develop at a rapid pace. It has become increasingly accessible providing creative opportunities for, not only a wider society of users, but also music education contexts. However, recent evidence suggests that the full creative potential of digital technology for music composition is not being fully utilised at Key Stage 3 (KS3) music education in England and this has been the case for some time.

This research implements a mixed methods approach in music departments in the North of England, UK. It provides fresh insight into how digital technology is currently being used in the KS3 music curriculum, if it’s full creative potential is being utilised in KS3 classroom composing and shows how it’s creative potential could be further realised in classroom composing activities. The findings suggest that KS3 pupils can learn alternative approaches to music composition through using digital methods of sound sampling, sound manipulation and sound structuring as part of a creative thinking cycle in ways rarely seen in music educational studies at this level.

Music teacher education and training needs addressing to help teachers develop specialist knowledge and expertise in integrating digital technology in their music teaching. This might help facilitate teachers to explore new methods of composition and thinking about sound in the music classroom. The original knowledge, specialist software and pedagogic resources from this research are therefore intended as Continual Professional Development (CPD) materials aimed at KS3 music teachers and the broader international community concerned with this emerging field of digital technology, composing and music education research in the 21st century.

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