Education and outreach activities

Introducing K-12 students to music technology

Music is a substantial part of almost every culture on Earth, and the enjoyment of music is nearly universal. Whether you are a performer or a listener, chances are you have a large (and growing) collection of music spanning a variety of media (mp3s, CDs, tapes, or even vinyl records). With the recent explosion in digital music technologies (compression formats, broadband internet connections, and portable devices) we now have unprecedented access to more music than ever before. This, ironically, comes at a time when music education is an ever diminishing component of our public education system in spite of the great enthusiasm for music among K-12 students.

Historically, technology has played an active role in the composition, performance, recording, production, distribution, and consumption of music, and today the two are more tightly coupled than ever. The computer has become a primary (if not THE primary) tool for creating music. Most music is experienced on a digital device that is converting the information stored as binary computer data (1s and 0s) into sound, and the portable devices of today, such as the iPod, possess processing power equivalent to that of desktop computers of a few years ago. It is clear that the future of music is inextricably linked to that of technology.

The MET-lab is an active participant in several outreach programs for K-12 students:
  • Summer Music Technology program (SMT): We have developed a week-long, in-depth program for current high school freshman and sophomores, which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). During SMT, students learn about the physics of sound and musical instruments, the technology of music recording and production, and some basic audio signal processing for sound analysis and manipulation. Emphasis is placed on bridging the underlying science and math of the technology with practical applications in music. For more information, please visit the SMT program website.

  • NSF GK-12 program: The MET-lab has partnered with several Philadelphia School District high school science classrooms to enhance science education through music and sound applications.

  • Drexel high school Summer Mentorship: Our lab hosts students participating in this summer research program for high achieving students.

  • Summer Engineering Experience at Drexel (SEED): We have developed a two-hour laboratory session where students learn about the importance of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the development of entertainment technologies, such as mp3 audio compression. We are able to introduce aspects of physics, psychoacoustics, signal processing, and information theory and show how they are put to use in common music software and devices.