Discussion/Conclusion

As I stated in the introduction, this paper poses a series of questions about the present state of music education and software, and how the Drum Loop might contribute. We may now answer these questions.

Music education practice in the area of beginner-level rhythm teaching is limited by counterintuitive notation, a Eurocentric focus and disconnection from the culture of dance music. Beginner-level music education can be made more engaging and effective by incorporating constructivist methods: having students create music that is authentic and personally meaningful. When students are able to construct their own knowledge rather than passively receive it, they are more likely to experience flow, which carries a variety of secondary psychological and intellectual benefits.

As I stated in the introduction, this thesis poses a series of questions about the present state of music education and software, and how the Drum Loop might contribute. We may now answer these questions.

Music education practice in the area of beginner-level rhythm teaching is limited by counterintuitive notation, a Eurocentric focus and disconnection from the culture of dance music. Beginner-level music education can be made more engaging and effective by incorporating constructivist methods: having students create music that is authentic and personally meaningful. When students are able to construct their own knowledge rather than passively receive it, they are more likely to experience flow, which carries a variety of secondary psychological and intellectual benefits.

Software can support better music learning generally, and rhythmic learning in particular, by supporting open-ended exploration and experimentation, and by appealing to the morpheme-level intuitive knowledge of music possessed even by beginners. The most intuitive rhythmic visualization and notation methods are the ones that represent music as patterns in space. Musical time should map onto physical space in a proportional way, so that longer musical events correspond to greater visual lengths. Rhythmic notation should make clear which events are metrically related, and how rhythm is built up recursively from cycles of cycles. It should also ideally show symmetries in the music that may not be immediately apparent to the ear.

The Drum Loop fills the vacuum of a beginner-friendly yet substantive rhythm tutorial app by combining an interface of toy-like simplicity with a wealth of real music to be engaged with and internalized. The Drum Loop uses a playful approach to rhythmic pedagogy. It encourages the user to tinker with the building blocks of dance music, using them as springboards to the user’s own musical expression.  Users can match challenge to ability by making their way through the exercises built into the Drum Loop at their own pace and in the order of their choosing. With the Drum Loop’s beats in their ears and its visualization scheme in their mind’s eye, students should be able to move more confidently into dance music production, classical notation and theory or any other field of musical pursuit.

The Drum Loop can support not only the broader learning of music, but also social and cultural studies and a numerous subjects in mathematics. It is my hope to develop the Drum Loop to the point where it can find its place in classrooms across different subject areas, or anywhere music is learned or played.

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