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A new approach to computer-assisted instruction in music theory for elementary and middle school children

, University of Northern Colorado, United States

University of Northern Colorado . Awarded


The history of Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI) in music can be divided into four periods reflecting advances in the state of computer hardware technology. While the earliest music CAI programs were invariably drill-and-practice in format, five categories of educational music software now exist: Drill-and-Practice, which provides a practice environment for the student; Guided Instruction, which functions as a demonstrative tutorial; Game, which ranges from competitive drill-and-practice programs to elaborate adventures requiring musical discovery; Exploratory, which allows the student to control the learning sequence; and Creative, which encourages the student to create music.

Computer-Assisted Instruction in music offers many advantages, some of which are difficult to obtain through traditional educational models. Chief among these advantages is the combination of media: the opportunity to see an interval, melody, or chord while simultaneously hearing it. Other advantages of music CAI include: individualization of instruction, instant feedback and positive reinforcement, objectivity, randomization of drill or test questions, multiple levels of difficulty, and record keeping.

This document includes reviews of sixty-six music CAI software packages, categorized by format, subject matter, and age group. While many of these programs are excellent educational tools, it has been concluded that a new type of program is needed that will present beginning through advanced music theory for elementary and middle school students, combining aspects of Drill-and-Practice software, Game software, and Guided Instruction software in a format that is appealing to children.

This program, Dolphin Don's Music School, runs on the Windows platform, and includes ten different game modules teaching aural and visual identification of notes, rhythms, key signatures, intervals, and chords.

While Dolphin Don's Music School satisfies a current need in the fourth generation of educational music software, it is clear that a fifth generation is dawning. The future of music CAI will be on the Internet, as evidenced by a few early online attempts at ear training. Although these are too slow to be practical to the average user at this time, advances in computer hardware technology—particularly in high-speed Internet access—will close this gap and lead to a new era of CAI.


Bowyer, D.W. A new approach to computer-assisted instruction in music theory for elementary and middle school children. Ph.D. thesis, University of Northern Colorado. Retrieved November 18, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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