Today we are welcoming Dr. Jennifer Snow to the Chromatik team! Dr. Snow is what you could call a lifer in the realm of music education. Respected as a concert pianist, she pursued a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from the University of Western Ontario, graduate studies as well as a Masters of Music degree and a Doctor of Music degree at Northwestern University
Following her own studies, Snow dedicated her talents to teaching music to the next generation of musicians at prestigious schools of music including UCLA, the Royal Conservatory of Music, the University of Toronto, and more. We are now lucky enough to have Dr. Snow heading up our education initiatives as the Senior Vice President of Education. We took some time to sit down and discuss her vision for Chromatik.
When you first encountered Chromatik, did you immediately see the need for it as a music educator yourself?
I’ve always been really fascinated by what technology can do for us and how it can push us in terms of how we learn and how we teach music. Ultimately engaging with technology affects your teaching practice. So way back, when Matt [Sandler] was first imagining what Chromatik was going to be, I just thought it was phenomenal. Right from the beginning I thought it was brilliant and I thought it could create equality in learning and access.
Just today actually, I wrote a letter to a teacher where I said, “It's not going to be long now until we’re not going to have sheets of paper for music. Everyone’s going to be reading their music off of iPads.” What I love about Chromatik especially is not only that efficiency of being able to digitize your library but also the interactivity. Chromatik presents such an opportunity to be in touch and share things with your students, with its recording functions and ability to give feedback. Students also have an archive of what they’re doing, so they can engage in self-regulated learning. Chromatik is just very creative, very progressive, and it embodies the key principles of great music learning.
What is your vision for what Chromatik can do for the field of music education?
What I imagine is that you have this connected community where everyone has access to whatever they need, wherever they are. As an educator Chromatik gives you the opportunity to be mobile with your students. It allows your students to interact with the music in whatever format they want at any moment. That’s the really exciting thing about Chromatik — it’s not tied to the band room or the practice rooms. I love that active component, and I think that it is really going to shift people's teaching practice in a positive way.
Technology doesn’t replace great teaching; it supports great teaching. Great teaching is about creating independence in the learning process. The opportunity for students to be connected to that learning experience is not isolated by their rehearsal schedule or once-a-week lessons. They can actually be engaged in that learning practice in an interactive way, communicating regularly with the teacher that allows students to reflect on what they are doing. No matter your age, your skill level, or your learning style, Chromatik is going to provide opportunities to expand yourself in the realm of music.
Do you think a program like Chromatik can help to counteract the damage done by budget cuts on music programs?
There are resources available for “technology,” so schools have access to funds to help integrate technology into their programs. Right now there is often a gap between how students interact with music on their own time and in the classroom. Chromatik is going to help make music education more relevant to the students as well as to their parents. I think it’s going to make them feel like the music experiences they have on their own time is not that different from the music they do in school. So I think this will raise awareness for the importance of music education, because it’s a teaching practice that uses this cutting edge technology.
I think also when you look at the cost of buying and replacing scores as well as the human hours spent—Chromatik's impact is huge. We often talk about resources in terms of money, but that’s not the whole picture. One of the things I love to say about Chromatik is that because the technology has so many built in efficiencies, it actually frees up time so that the teacher can actually teach. That is the guts and glory of maintaining programs. Our teachers need to be supported and able to focus on what’s most important and that’s the learning.