The advancement in computer hardware and software has made possible many new forms of learning in music education. One of the areas that computer technology has recently contributed is the practice of laptop ensemble, which enables participants to perform music collaboratively and lively in a computer-mediated environment. While research has showcased the innovative sound and sonic experience that laptop ensemble can demonstrate, investigation into the learning opportunity that it can offer is absent. This prior study aims at examining participants’ learning experience in a laptop ensemble, focusing on their self-assessed benefits in ensemble skills development. Participants (n=49) were undergraduate students in Hong Kong studying in music education programmes who participated in the laptop ensemble as part of their ensemble-participation requirement of their curriculum. A questionnaire survey and semi-structured interviews were implemented after they participated in laptop ensemble for one academic year. Survey data demonstrated the benefits of participating in laptop ensemble including the development of ensemble skills and generic skills, as well as the acquisition of knowledge and fluency in using performance-related music technology. Semi-structured interviews revealed the characteristics and limitations of laptop ensemble in ensemble skills development. Compared with traditional orchestral setting, laptop ensemble provides the opportunity for students who can only play the piano to participate in large-scale ensemble setting. However, issues such as the quality of synthesizer (i.e. sound source) and the expressiveness of MIDI keyboards limited the effectiveness on training particular ensemble skills such as pitching and dynamics adjustment. The findings of this study revealed the feasibility and effectiveness of laptop ensemble in training ensemble skills, which unfolded the possibility to practice and perform beyond the traditional framework of ensemble skills training. The aforementioned limitations should be addressed to ensure the validity of students’ ensemble skills training, and thus fostering a brand new ensemble 17 skills learning experience in an effective way.
|Publication status||Published - Jul 2015|