An Argument for Audio Recording

Ears vs. Notation


The age-old debate is still in play in many music studios: Should students learn by ear (Suzuki) or by notation (Traditional)?  After decades of conversation, wise educators have created a blend of both worlds: combining the best of the memory work, ensemble practice and close listening promoted by the Suzuki method, in conjunction with solid note and rhythm reading practice encouraged in traditional methods. Still, however, curriculum is largely patterned after the philosophy of the teacher’s culture rather than taking account of our students’ radically changed environment. A new method of learning, largely happening “underground” and outside the formal practice room, is taking over most of the time our students spend with their instruments.

YouTube™ is full of school-aged students offering amateur tutorials of popular, jazz, and classical music on a variety of instruments. Students aren’t working off of music, rote memorization, or copy cat playing; they are listening to high-quality audio files from their phones, iPods, computers and gaming platforms, looping them into simple recording apps on their phones or tablet devices, and learning favorite tunes by ear.

21st century learners are bombarded with high-quality audio technology from the moment the sun rises.


7:00am: wake to downloaded ringtone on iPhone
7:05am: pop iPhone into iHome device to play music while getting dressed
7:30am: pocket the iPhone, plug iPod into headphones and eat breakfast
7:45am: walk to school/ride bus listening to iPod
8:15am: math teacher plays classical music during a test
9:30am: video announcements in homeroom feature a spoof of a popular movie tune, recorded and played back via the PA system on the school’s mixer
3:00pm: more music on the way home from school, pass headphones around, listening to friends’ favorite tunes
3:30pm: PlayStation 360 game with friends, accompanied by Dolby Surround Sound on Bose speakers
6:00pm: mom blasts country music while making dinner
7:00pm: movie with friends, soundtrack features mashups of old Big Band tunes, synthesized and looped over a new rap song
11:00pm: fall asleep to music on iPod

Many of our students are able to concentrate on tasks like homework when they listen to music at the same time. They hear the background of their world in tracks, loops, mashups, mixes and blends of sound. Visual stimulation that is not moving in millisecond chunks not only doesn’t interest our students; they aren’t certain how to make sense of static data on a page. Asking them to make sense of music that we only SEE is counter-intuitive and limits their learning. If we want our students to focus on learning skills, we must capture their ear first; their eye second.

Promoting audio recording in our studios motivates students by offering to make music the way music is being made. Audio recording benefits both the student and teacher. A few basic benefits:

  1. Students who record their performance have a heightened need to practice carefully.  Most of us cringe when we hear our own voice recorded; imagine the pressure of hearing yourself play!
  2. Recording is perfect rehearsal for performing live. It creates a fraction of the anxiety present in a live performance, so students can rehearse the emotional and physiological aspects of a live performance.
  3. Audio recordings can be layered with other sounds and instruments, providing built-in ensemble opportunities and opening the door to basic mixing and editing. Audio recording is the easiest way to archive student work. Storing performances as audio files ensures the music can be stored, emailed, transcribed, sent off for auditions and competitions.
  4. Audio recording student work builds a library of relevant audio “text” for teachers to use in their studio. Using student work as the model and target for student learning is an example of best practice for the New Arts Standards as student work will be used as benchmarks for learning.

Read about and sample the latest educational offerings from Roland in easy-to-use, affordable, portable audio recorders. The features are intuitive between generations, bringing the audio world into the hands of both teacher and student.


Roland R-05 WAVE/MP3 Recorder
This high-quality portable device has a built in stereo mic or external inputs and records in WAV and MP3 formats at the same time. The on-board editing features lets teachers and students trim, divide and combine recordings taken on stage, in rehearsal, or at school. The R-05 makes it easy to record lessons to post on-line, archive student work, or record for competitions and auditions. Data is easy to transfer via USB to a computer or with the included SD card.


Roland CD-2i CD/SD Recorder
Self-contained in the CD-2i is everything you need for simple audio recording.  Internal high-quality stereo microphones allow for simple “point and capture” recording, but the CD-2i also has XLR, 1/4-inch, and RCA inputs for additional mics and devices. It’s easy to use with a rehearsal function that sets the best input levels for recording automatically and internal speakers for immediate review. Adjust the key, speed and reduce or cancel the lead for lessons and practice. Comes with a wireless remote controller and can be used with a power supply or with batteries.


Roland R-26
The R-26 is an innovative audio recorder with professional features, including built-in omni-directional and directional mics and an XLR/TRS combo input. Use the R-26 in combination with the bundled SONAR LE software app to perform recording and detailed editing on your PC.  This six-channel portable recorder is like having a battery-powered recorder and mixer, all in the size of a cell phone.


Roland RM-700 Digital Piano
Until now, digital pianos offered only MIDI recording features. The RM-700, as Roland’s flagship digital piano, offers all the benefits of a digital piano with built-in recording capabilities. Record MIDI, WAV, and audio formats in any combination and multiple tracks. For a studio teacher who needs the ease and simplicity of one-button recording, performing and lessons in one instrument, the RM-700 is a perfect option.

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