Music Tech Teacher General Information, History, FAQ's

Music Tech Teacher - General Information, History and Frequently Asked Questions FAQ's about our Music Technology Program and classes.

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Music Tech Lab at Green Acres

Students are practicing music on the keyboards with Noteflight in our lab.

Music Tech Lab at Green Acres

Students are practicing music on the keyboards in our lab at Green Acres.

Music Tech Lab at Green Acres

Students are practicing music on the keyboards in our lab at Green Acres.

Band students after the All City Evaluation.

Band students after the All City Evaluation.

Music Tech Students

Students are practicing music on the keyboards in our lab at Green Acres.

Music Tech Students

Students like to use their accounts and Synthesia to compose and play music.

Music Tech Students

Students are practicing music using our website.

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General Information and History About Our Program

Ms. Karen Garrett - Band and Music Technology Teacher
Scroll down the page to see (a chart) of information about our funding, equipment and software.

I started teaching band at 4 schools in 1992. I always incorporated technology into music lessons and used a computer to arrange, notate and print parts for the unbalanced instrumentation. I purchased computer programs on my own, including Music Ace, Music Time Deluxe, Microsoft Musical Instruments and others. I started taking middle school students to the library to work with the students on music software programs. The students loved to learn about music using computers!

In 1996, I was asked to start a formal music technology program at one of my schools (Central Park). We received 5 Casio keyboards and Alfred Basic Piano Library books. I used Windows computers in a separate room from our keyboards to work on students' music skills. By 1997, I was able to get the computers and keyboards connected in my band storage room, which became the music technology lab. Each year, we added more students and resources to build the program. I taught music technology at Central Park School full-time from 1999-2013. In the last years at Central Park, I was teaching up to 250 students per week in the lab.

By 2012, we were fortunate to have 8 Yamaha PSR-E403 keyboards, 4 Yamaha PSR-E333 keyboards, 8 Quik-Lok tables and Windows 7 computers in the lab. We also had a better selection of software to use with my students, as well as a 400 page website to help not only my own students, but other teachers and students as well.

Instrumental Music... Keyboards instead of Band?
We were able to teach more students at the elementary level without the financial barrier of purchasing and repairing band instruments, as most of our students were from low-income homes. Also, we were not allowed to pull students out of class three times a week for band so the music technology class was used to increase the student participation in music and decrease the amount of time students were away from other academic classes. We had a separate general music teacher at school. Most students were able to receive 80 minutes of music per week between general music and instrumental music at the elementary level.

I taught 250 students in the 2nd-5th grades each week. Each student was 'pulled' from academic classes one time per week for a 40 minute class. Students did not have to have a keyboard, computer or the Internet to be in the class. The students learned how to play the electronic keyboard and to read, write, compose, print and publish music using a computer. The class format was to 'work-at-your-own-pace.' Students ranged from beginners with little knowledge of advanced beginners with some background in music (choir or piano lessons). I selected many of my previous students to continue from year to year. Teachers also chose students based on an interest in taking music lessons. The class was made accessible to all students from special education to gifted. Eight students at a time were in the class.

Computers and Keyboards...
All 8 computer and keyboard stations were connected together through MIDI interface cables. As of August, 2007 we connected all keyboards to the computers using USB cables, a much more economical way to make the connections. The keyboards were used to enter notes onto the screen in Sibelius when creating compositions. Students also entered notes into the computer in note reading drills in Music Ace and Alfred's Theory Games, along with some use in the Groovy music series by Sibelius. We also used Alfred Midi files on the computer as an accompaniment with the students as they practiced. All computers had splitter cables to split the sound between the keyboard, speakers and headphones. This helped me to have the students practice on their own or practice with the entire class. We did not have funding available for a group education controller. As of 2012, all computers were Dell Windows 7 PC's.

Concerts and Performances...
We liked to have at least one or more concerts each year, primarily at Christmas or for a special project with the Music Tech Ensemble. Concerts depended on the facility (gym) being available, along with students being able to play the music properly in an ensemble of up to 25 kids at a time. Generally, students who had access to pianos or keyboards at home were able to perform better because they could practice outside of school time. Some of our performances were recorded in class during the year and posted on CD's available to our school and to the Board of Education. I posted a few short video excerpts of students playing on our Student Work section of this website.

TI:ME - Technology Institute for Music Educators / Other Media...
I joined TI:ME ( in 1998 to network with other teachers who were using music technology in their classes. I attended most of the national conferences from 2002-2012, which allowed me to learn many new ideas, techniques and resources available in technology and to learn about the innovative things teachers were doing with music classes. It is wonderful to be a part of such a great organization of teachers that inspire me to continue learning as much as I can about the constantly growing music tech industry. I was very happy to serve as the TI:ME Teacher of the Year in 2006. I have also been fortunate that so many people have recognized my very small classroom as having a great impact around the world. We received numerous awards for our website, as well as being featured in newspapers, newsletters, television and in music magazines such as Music Education Technology and School Band and Orchestra.

What programs and equipment are you using for website development / pictures / quizzes / cartoons?
I use a variety of software and equipment that I purchased on my own for website development and photos. I use Adobe Dreamweaver software to develop and maintain the website. I use Adobe Photoshop to edit and work with my digital photos. I create most of the artwork and graphics for my site with Photoshop. My students love the creative collages I have made with their pictures. I use a Canon digital SLR camera and a smaller digital camera for creating most of my photos and videos. I created the Flash quizzes that contain cartoons featuring 'talking' characters. I purchased the licensed characters (from Cartoon Solutions, iStockPhoto and Shutterstock) and can use them for any of my projects. I use Flash Professional to create the quizzes using the various cartoons. Creating the quizzes with the animated characters is very time consuming, but I love doing it and it has helped me to learn to use Flash. For a list of additional software I use to create quizzes, take a look at the table at the bottom of the Music Quizzes Page.

Final Notes...
Besides teaching music technology, I developed and maintain our websites and I also help with technical problems around the school and take thousands of digital photos each year of events held at our school. I hope this information helps teachers who are interested in implementing music technology into their music classes. I am always glad to hear from other teachers who use technology in their music classes. I have spent a tremendous amount of money on my own, but I do want to have the best resources I can for my students. My program is one of only a few music tech programs in Alabama at this time. It has really created an exciting outlet for my students (and me) to be creative and enjoy learning about music.

Beyond 2013...
Due to all elementary instrumental music programs being cut in our school system, I was moved to a middle school. I am now teaching band again full-time after being away from that for many years. I am starting a band program at a school that did not have band. I hope to be able to work my music tech program into the middle school schedule as I have time and hope to be able to teach music tech full-time again one day.

Materials and Funding for the Lab (1996 - 2015)



August, 2013 - I moved my Music Tech Lab to Green Acres Middle School in Birmingham due to all instrumental music (band) programs being cut from the elementary schools. I had to start a new band program and teach band full-time at the middle school and hope to incorporate the music tech lab back into my teaching at some point.


Thank you to all of the donors who helped us obtain funding for four more keyboards!

Donors Choose

We moved the lab upstairs in August of 2012 and still need help in funding additional keyboards and software to accomodate full classes (up to 28 kids in each) up to 600 students per week (due to cuts in other faculty and arts programs).


Donation for software upgrade

Mixcraft 5 Software Upgrade by


(May, 2011 - Stolen - loss of $800 of equipment - Police Report filed)

4 Casio CTK-501 keyboards from 1997 - located in a secured storage room in another part of the school. I do not expect the keyboards to be recovered, unfortunately. We used these older keyboards in concerts to provide more students the opportunity to play. :(


District-Wide Technology Refresh Program

New Feb. 2011 - 4 Dell Windows 7 computers, replacing remaining Windows XP computers


$5985 funding from Title I school funds

New Sept. 2010 - 5 Dell Windows 7 computers, replacing our Windows 98 computers


$420 funding from the Birmingham City Council (2008)

7 On-Stage heavy-duty music stands to hold the keyboards during concerts


$1300 funding from Title I school funds

Lab pack 10 Sibelius 6 software and 6 Blue Snowflake microphones


Funds from Title I school funds

3 Dell Windows XP computers


$2000 Best Buy Teach Award, Best Buy Stores

1 Windows Vista computer, 4 Sony Acid Music Software programs, headphones, computer mice, microphones, print cartridges, CD's


$1800 funding from the Birmingham City Council

8 Yamaha PSR-e403 keyboards


$110 Pupil Supply

8 pairs of Headphones


$2000 funding from school Principal

8 Quik-Lok Computer Tables from SoundTree


>$150 parts paid for and repaired by Ms. Garrett

7 Windows 98 Computers (from discarded computers within the school)


$1500 funding from Title I school funds

E-beam system (similar to SmartBoard) and DuKane Projector



Sibelius 3 Lab-Pack from Sibelius In-Service in School System


$500 funded partially by SoundTree and PTA funding

Korg synthesizer


$1000 funding from Fine Arts Department

5 Casio CTK501 keyboards


$105 funding from Fine Arts Department

15 Alfred Basic Piano Library Method Books


School pupil supply and other funding

Various software titles including Music Ace, Music Ace 2, Alfred's Theory Games, Music Time Deluxe, etc.


$150 funded by Ms. Garrett subscription for my students - online music learning


>$150 per year funded by Ms. Garrett

Website creation, development, maintenance. Does not include software, computers, etc. purchased to create materials for website.


>$1200 funding by Ms. Garrett

All decorations and some of the furniture in the room purchased by Ms. Garrett


>$2000 funding by Ms. Garrett

Music Method Books, Alfred Titles and Music, Music Technology Books, Software, etc.


>$800 funding by Ms. Garrett

Numerous cables and adapters, USB cables, speakers, etc.


> Provided by Ms. Garrett through beta-testing program

Sibelius Groovy Software Series from Sibelius

We rely on donations of equipment for most of our needs, especially software. It has helped to be beta-testers of software for music companies to aid in acquiring software. The is not a complete listing above, but it covers many of the items used in the lab. Ms. Garrett spends quite a lot of money out-of-pocket for the needs of this program. There was no pupil supply funding at all from 2009-2012.

The website domain purchase, creation, development, pictures, work and maintenance are a free service provided by Ms. Garrett to the students and faculty at Green Acres Middle School, the music teachers in Birmingham and other schools, and as a resource to the Internet education community. Ms. Garrett is a member of the Technology Institute for Music Educators, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and the Alabama Music Educators Association (AMEA). To find out more about these organizations, click on 'Information-Links.'


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