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PMO Incorporates New Technology

person holding an iPad

Purdue Musical Organizations is expanding music technology into its work with students.

The initiative, known as iSing, equips students and directors with Apple iPads and several applications that can be used for group and individual musical instruction as well as performance. Since September, PMO staff and 25 student leaders have been using the programs. PMO staff anticipates more products being made available to students in January. Members will be able to use the devices for the entirety of their time in PMO.

The use of new applications and tablets were made possible through the generosity of PMO supporters and their directed gifts as well as bonus challenge money awarded through Purdue Day of Giving. Additional tablets will be made available via the estate of a friend of PMO.

"The iPads will help with music mastery, with a number of PMO-purchased applications providing assistance with music instruction and teaching methods," says Bill Griffel, director of Purdue Musical Organizations. "We've pushed a number of educational and productivity apps to our students with positive reviews, providing another tool to allow our students to succeed academically and in their life after Purdue."

ForScore, one of the apps used by PMO, gives directors the ability to review and update musical scores and airdrop the adjustments to students instantly. Students can also use Apple Pencils to digitally mark up their own music, a feature that is particularly useful for PMO's specialty ensembles, which use numerous charts custom-created by assistant directors.

PMO's directors also use the new tablets to check music learning for individuals in an ensemble. Students can air drop a recording of themselves performing to allow the director to hear each individual voice without stopping rehearsal. The tablets also have tuners and metronomes, which enables students to check whether they are on pitch and in tempo when they are practicing individually. iPads additionally create an easier method for directors to communicate schedules and calendars without having to use paper.

"The iPads allow students to rehearse more on their own, creating more efficient group rehearsals that focus on musical interpretation and performance techniques, rather than learning notes, pitches and rhythms," says Griffel.

Those in the Purdue family were able to see PMO staff utilize these devices in the 86th Annual Purdue Christmas Show, scheduled for Dec. 7-8. Audience members are encouraged to watch for "hands free" music turning enabled by Bluetooth pedals.

For more than 85 years, PMO has proudly served the Purdue family as ambassadors of goodwill on campus, across the country and around the world. The vocal music department offers six choral ensembles and one handbell choir. Students in PMO perform more than 100 shows annually including the Purdue Christmas Show, which is presented to a live audience of more than 18,000 and reaches millions more through broadcasts on public television and radio networks.