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  • Mary Barton

Finger-painting Theory!

Updated: Aug 22



One great thing about venturing into online music learning is that some things, I have discovered, are better digitally. For example, some of the online tools and applications that can be used during an online music lesson are just plain fun to use, even for an adult!

I personally find analyzing music with some of these tools more interesting and engaging. Not only does it combine a cognitive task with an engaging visual medium, but it’s also tactile, because we have to touch the screen or use the digital pencil or swipe a finger across. Meanwhile, colours and shapes flow from our hands and fingers with every touch. Like art in some way. Like finger painting. And there’s the total freedom of knowing that if we make a mistake or don’t like the colour, it can be easily redone without a mess! Or we can scrap the entire draft and start all over! Or work in layers and save each one as a new PDF. For example, highlighting all the pentascales in a piece, then all the triads. Plus it’s interactive. Both the student and teacher can markup a score during the lesson.

So instead of feeling bogged down and overwhelmed with an ordinary pencil on a white sheet of paper and lots of eraser debris and scratched out errors and wishing you’d made an extra copy of the page before starting to accumulate answers on it, there’s the feeling of art, and music and colour and touch all in one! Children, especially, may find using colours and shapes more like play!

Moreover, these tools are not limited to an online lesson environment. Many of them can be used outside the lesson time, or student and teacher can use these tools together in-person. It’s just a little more seamless in an online lesson since both teacher and student are already screen sharing.

There are a growing number of online tools either designed for or applicable to music students and teachers - composition tools such as Noteflight, ear training applications such as Auralia, collaborative whiteboards, free PDF editors like PDFescape and much more. The ease, versatility, and engaging functionality of these tools are not only transforming the online music-learning environment, but the in-person class as well, particularly theory classes, as teachers, seeking the finest pedagogical tools possible, develop hybrid lessons that cross the best of both worlds.


Why not add some colour to your music theory world? Contact me today about online theory lessons!




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