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Using Technology to Unlock Musical Creativity

Scott Watson

Publication Date - July 2011

ISBN: 9780199742769

350 pages
8-1/2 x 11 inches

In Stock

Offers both a pedagogical framework and a description of the technology tools for engaging students in creative musical projects


It has never been easier or more fun for students to compose, improvise, arrange, and produce music and music-related projects than with today's technology. Written in a practical, accessible manner, Using Technology to Unlock Musical Creativity offers both a framework for and practical tips on the technology tools best suited for encouraging students' authentic musical creativity.

Author Scott Watson makes a compelling case for creativity-based music learning through eight teacher-tested principles that access, nurture, and develop students' potential for musical expression. Example after example illustrates each principle in a variety of music teaching and technology scenarios. Watson also includes practical ideas for technology-based creative music activities, locating lesson plans and other resources, and assessing creative work. The book provides detailed plans for dozens of attractive projects, each linked to MENC National Standards, and also offers suggestions for making adaptations according to grade level and technology proficiency. Additionally, it includes a valuable section of resources with tips for setting up a computer music workstation, a plain-language description of how digital audio works, and a music education technology glossary. Most of the activities described can be carried out by novice users with free or low-cost music applications.

The book also features a comprehensive companion website with dozens of audio and video examples as well as many downloadable worksheets, rubrics, and activity files. Visit the companion website at www.oup.com/us/musicalcreativity.


  • The only music education technology text that takes a creativity/pedagogical approach
  • Includes dozens of examples, both in the book and on the companion website, of creative music projects by actual students of all ages
  • Focuses on the way music technology may be used generally, without relying on specific products and softwares
  • Comes with 29 detailed, teacher-tested lesson plans for creative musical activities

About the Author(s)

Scott Watson is a veteran music teacher, a frequently published and commissioned composer, and a highly regarded music education technology specialist. In addition to 20 years of experience in teaching K-12 instrumental and classroom music in the Parkland School District (Allentown, Pennsylvania), Watson serves as adjunct instructor at University of the Arts and Cairn University (both in the Philadelphia area) and Central Connecticut State University (New Britain, CT), and has delivered numerous workshops and clinics to in-service music teachers.


"This publication is the only one that I know of that illustrates the synergistic relationship between technology and musical creativity. Watson does a magnificent job providing a balance between the philosophical underpinnings and effective pedagogical strategies for providing music making opportunities to every student, using readily accessible software and hardware. Any educator looking to effectively integrate technology and creativity into their K-12 music curriculum should add this book to their list of must-have resources."--James Frankel, Ed.D., SoundTree Managing Director

"Using Technology to Unlock Musical Creativity introduces a revolutionary way to approach music creativity in all grade levels. From the in-depth thoughts on creativity and technology to the engaging lesson plans, Scott's book will enhance the way music educators approach creativity-based learning."--Amy M. Burns, President of Technology for Music Education (TI:ME) and PreK-Grade 5 Music Educator, Far Hills Country Day School

"This is a must read for every music educator who has a nagging sense that music education can be more. Dr. Watson points the way not only with pedagogical theory, but with strategies and examples tested in real classrooms."--Rick Dammers, Assistant Professor of Music Education, Rowan University

"Presented in this outstanding book, Dr. Watson's approach to composition is innovative yet practical. I believe teachers will find that his pedagogy is not only accessible to students, but also stimulating to their creativity and musicianship."--Linda Thornton, Associate Professor of Music Education, The Pennsylvania State University

"Scott Watson's innovative spirit and forward thinking attitude toward the use of technology in music education is refreshing and inspiring." --MusicEdMagic.com

"A comprehensive work, highly readable and packed with good ideas. I cannot think of another single volume that does the job as well as this book. Highly recommended." --David Ashworth, TeachingMusic.org.uk

"Brimming with information, pedagogical approaches, overviews of music software and hardware, and ready-to-implement lesson plans demonstrating how to make the connections between music technology and musical creativity...Using Technology to Unlock Musical Creativity is a book of extraordinary value and usefulness to music educators. Dr. Watson--a seasoned music educator who has spent years reflecting on and refining music technology's use in the classroom to unlock students' creativity with music--shares with his readers the vital connections between music technology and musical creativity. Best of all, in Using Technology to Unlock Musical Creativity Watson teaches us to make those same connections." --General Music Today

"Thought-provoking and motivating...A treasure trove of ideas...This book is a highly recommended resource for any music teacher looking for a fresh atmosphere in the classroom. It could also be required reading for college students of music education to prepare them for future creative exploits in their classrooms." --Music Educators Journal

"The second section includes practical lesson ideas for deploying Watson's eight principles using various types of music technology...As an educator in an individualized musicianship program at the high school level, I have had instant success applying these projects to my curriculum, and my students find the projects challenging, educational, and enjoyable." --John S. Bailey, Music Educators Journal

"I wish I had this book or Watson as a teacher when I was growing up. But we all have him now....Anyone with an interest in creative teaching should get this book -- it comes with a whole lot of metaphorical wheels that you won't have to reinvent. Treat yourself to a springboard for your creative teaching using Scott Watson's thoughtful and informative book." --Jeffrey Agrell, The Horn Call

"Offers fresh ways to use the technology tools that many educators already have. The creative projects [Watson] presents are both flexible and adaptable depending on grade level, available technology, and the teacher's and students' experience, comfort, and confidence with technology...The strength of Scott's text is how it is structured on a set of eight principles that successfully draw out student creativity." --School Band & Orchestra

Table of Contents

    PART 1: Philosophical and Pedagogical Underpinnings
    Chapter One: Technology, Musical Creativity, and This Book
    Chapter Two: Thoughts on Creativity
    Chapter Three: Allow Students to Share Themselves
    Chapter Four: Offer Compelling Examples to Imitate and Inspire, Preferably by Other Students
    Chapter Five: Employ Parameters and Limitations That Remove Distractions and Help Students Focus
    Chapter Six: Remove Parameters and Limitations That Stifle Creativity and Lead to Contrived Expression
    Chapter Seven: Facilitate Improvisation
    Chapter Eight: Engage in Coaching Interaction as Part of the Project Plan
    Chapter Nine: Foster Opportunities for Offering and Receiving Feedback and Critique
    Chapter Ten: Employ Performance and Recital
    PART 2: Curricular Materials
    Chapter Eleven: Two Paths
    Chapter Twelve: Creativity With Keyboards
    Chapter Thirteen: Creativity With Sound Recording Applications
    Chapter Fourteen: Creativity With Multi-Track Music Production Applications
    Chapter Fifteen: Creativity With Computer Music Notation Applications
    Chapter Sixteen: Creativity With Instructional Software and Other Music Applications
    Chapter Seventeen: Curriculum Integration
    Chapter Eighteen: Various Implications
    Appendix 1: Computer Music Workstation
    Appendix 2: How Digital Audio Works
    Appendix 3: Music Education Technology Glossary