A Game for Novices and Experts - Melody Mixer

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Dr. Jamie Henke and Dr. Alan Ng were looking for a way to provide students with more opportunity to experience musical concepts. Dr. Henke teaches an introductory music theory class that includes students with a range of musical ability, from no formal music experience to more than 10 years of formal music experience. Students who are musicians use their instruments to experiment with music theory concepts, but non-musician students, unfortunately, have limited opportunities to experiment to do so.

One of the key reasons why we developed this game was to bridge the gap for students who needed more ear training on music concepts.”

-Dr. Jamie Henke - Faculty Associate, Division of Continuing Studies

picture of Doctor Henke and Alan Ng

In addition to this experience gap, Dr. Henke teaches two sections of her introductory music theory class as traditional face-to-face and one class that is totally online. She wanted a tool that would be useful to all of her students, regardless of experience or learning environment.

We have a responsibility to educate children so they can be successful citizens in this country, technology has to be part of that.”

Dr. Jamie Henke - Faculty Associate, Division of Continuing Studies

Through an Engage Innovation Simulations and Games Award, a game called Melody Mixer was developed to meet the educational goals of the instructors. The goal of Melody Mixer is to save four composers who have been transported back in time. Some of their melodies were mixed up in the process. It’s the gamer’s job to put them back in order. Dr. Henke has found that the game “gives [students] a chance to associate the concepts we cover in class with how they sound in real music.”

There have also been some unexpected gains attributable to the Melody Mixer. Dr. Henke explains: “We assumed that students would learn theory concepts in class and use the game to practice ear training for those concepts. But we found that the game started to impart theory concepts to students as well.” Dr. Henke also found that students spent more time on ear-training tasks because they did not get as fatigued. This extra time allowed students without a music background to develop their listening skills much faster than was previously possible.

Dr. Henke continues to explore new ways to teach and use new teaching tools, and she believes that technology is an essential component of quality education. “We have a responsibility to educate children so they can be successful citizens in this country, [and] technology has to be a part of that.”