Around the corner in a small town in southern Taiwan, a modern-looking school hides itself in the rural streets and local market. The oval style of school buildings holds the sports-field yet opens the view to the broad blue sky. This is SinGang Senior High   With a poster that says“Future Producer Workshop”, the door plaque says “Digital Music Factory, next to another classroom that says “Digital Film Factory”Some kids in the room are working hard trying to practice what the teacher has just taught; some are playing with the plugins with MIDI keyboards. “ It sounds soooo real!”, a few kids cried out and laughing. Paradigm Shift   The 3rd wave of computer revolution that swept the world in the last few decades of 20th century, hasn’t stopped yet. All aspects of life have been changed forever since the birth of Personal Computer. In the commercial music world such as popular music, film/TV scoring, PC has made everything change. No need for investing millions in building a studio with expensive hardware, nowadays people can get good results using just one PC that was once only possible to the huge studios. PC is cheap, easy to use, everyone can get his hands on a PC easily. But who can teach about making music using computers? Until recently, one can only teach oneself. Now the official education system is finally catching up with the change. The development of teaching computer music has been very slow. The big change pretty much threw the old paradigm out of the window. But all the teachers are till trained by the old paradigm. Nobody is sure how to teach computer music, but it’s unavoidable.
Combining Computer Music and Education David Chang came to SinGang from Taipei. Chang was graduated from the top engineering school in Taiwan. But instead of making electronic consumer products, Chang devoted himself to music. He started writing books on Acid, Nuendo etc., since the late 90s. Chang has also taught in all kinds of schools, ranging from junior high to University. Naturally Chang comes on board to become part of the official team that is designing the curriculum for the schools.   At the SinGang Senior High’s workshop, young students listen to David Chang explaining DAW to them. Even though most kids have learned a bit of instruments before, almost all of them have never used a DAW before.  Then, within a few hours, the kids are already making their own beats and painting their own melody. A new door is open now. “I’m just taking them to play it as a game” Chang says. Chang even uses photos to let the kids know that they can get a random curve based on the objects in the
photos, and then use the curves as an inspiration for the melody, then transcribe it to the pianoroll in Cubase. “I’m just helping them to see that one can find inspirations everywhere.” More and more local schools are inviting David Chang to lecture or hold workshops. Chang believes it’s caused by the competition between schools due to the newly introduced 12-year basic citizen education program, along with the change of demographic structure. The schools have to work hard to provide better curriculum and course. “At last, the day of eruption has come.” Chang laughed. Chang’s grandfather can play ErHu, GuQin. Chang is familiar with these traditional instruments. “Having these traditional instruments available in the DAW, makes it easier to combine the traditional and the modern knowledge as one to the students...Being traditional is modern. With the revived curiosity to our own tradition,  a pastiche/kitsch of this kind can intrigue the students’ curiosity and the desire to learn. It’s good for their learning.”. Arts in the heart, not mind   “In fact, during the phase of basic education, distinguishing the disciplines is not a good idea. It doesn’t matter whether it is a music school or an standard class. Our goal is not about moulding an artist, we are not not preaching the art either. We are trying to cultivate a person with the ability to do general thinking. Once the basic education is completed, college will be the place to develop and specialize. What we should do at this basic stage is to make sure the art lives in heart of the students. “ Zhang concludes。 Integrating technology and life, can only be achieved by the people of each land, to make it part of the past and the future. Just like SinGang High, it floats with the town’s dream and our dreams for the future.
THE FOCUS In Search of Creativity on the frontline of Computer Music Education