Technology is a wonderful thing. There are now countless ways we can use it to improve the quality of our programs. There is everything from tuners to metronomes to all kinds of apps for our phones and tablets. Technology gives us instant access to a wealth of information on the internet that can also be used to teach our students.
A great way to use technology to help students understand the music they are playing is to get in contact with the composers of the pieces they are playing and set up a Skype session with them. It is a wonderful way for the students to feel connected to the music in ways that were never possible just ten short years ago. Most students think that composers are old dead guys that wore white wigs! They are surprised in many cases to see composers as real people and not dead! I have done quite a few of these Skype session and they are as fun for me as they are for the students. I always ask the teachers to have students come up with questions before the session they can ask me and those questions are always quite interesting. Besides learning about the actual piece, its inspiration and genesis, composers of music for school ensembles are usually teachers themselves and have lots of valuable insights that will help to improve the musicianship of your students. Most of these composer that I know are wonderful with students, great clinicians as well as being great composers.
So, if you can’t afford to commission a piece or have a composer come to your school, you might want to think about a Skype session as an option. They are excellent learning opportunities for your students, and you will find that most of the popular composers today are very personable and willing to do these type of clinics. Many that I know have already done them many times.