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PHS music department receives computer donation
Students are able to use the laptops to play musical accompaniments with traditional instruments. The laptops allow students to practice solo and ensemble pieces while still using human accompanists for the actual event.

The sister of Platteville High School music teacher Nancy Fairchild donated four laptop computers to the high school’s music department.

This computer donation from Sonia Case, in combination with endowment funds from the Rebecca Lewis Endowment for the Musical Arts, a component of the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, Inc., has established music labs in the music area at Platteville High School.

The laptop computers will allow music students to continue their study of theory and composition.  The theory students engage in online learning as well as traditional classroom theory skills.  During the online portion of the class, students work independently completing multiple assignments and assessments.  Fairchild is the facilitator for this type of classroom learning.

Upon completion of the program, students continue their music study with composition and history.  The computers allow students to produce publisher quality arrangements and compositions in their theory class.

All music students’ benefit from the Smart Labs set up in the practice rooms of the music area.  Smart Music is an interactive practice and assessment tool used by instrumentalists and vocalists.  Last fall, band students were given assignments that were evaluated through computer technology.  The assessment tool allows students to practice and keep their best recordings, which Fairchild then evaluates through a visual and auditory grade book.

This technology does not replace the traditional lessons the students receive, but rather enhances the amount of material covered during the semester.  During the third quarter, students may use the labs to practice their festival music pieces as well as rehearse with the virtual accompanist.  Again, the computer is not replacing the live accompanist for solo and ensemble festival, but rather allows for students to hear their accompaniment earlier in the learning process.

Case has been a long time supporter of music in Platteville through attendance at concerts, football games, parades and the annual musical. Her understanding of the importance of music comes through personal experience.  She played in her high school band and knows the value of working in a group to produce a product for the public.  She knows the enjoyment and relaxation that listening to music has given her.

Case’s own career path has been in the computer world. With her success in the field of technology, she wanted to give back to the schools in the form of enhanced music education.

“The laptops have enhanced the learning experience in the theory classroom.,” said Fairchild  “The on-task time has improved tremendously since the kids now have a designated laboratory for their style of learning.  We are a rather ‘noisy’ classroom that doesn’t lend itself to sharing a computer lab with a class that is trying to do research on the net or read articles on line.”

The Rebecca Lewis Endowment for the Musical Arts has afforded music technology equipment that has benefited the entire school district for the past several years.  Fairchild taught with Lewis for many years at the Middle School and knew of her love and demand for excellence in the music field.

Lewis died in a car crash 10 years ago.  Her family established an endowment to enhance Platteville’s music departments.

To date, the endowment has provided site licenses for the Finale Music Notation System used throughout the schools, yearly Smart music licenses, as well as the speakers and other technology required to run the program, and projectors for the music rooms to enhance visual learning.

This transformation in how students learn will truly benefit the music students at Platteville High School for many years to come thanks to these two donors.