Ami Luz – The Center for the Gifted at the Oranim Institute, Tiv’on, Israel
Ami Luz is a professional musician and performer, and a guitar and harmonica teacher who has been involved in computerized musical education for almost 20 years, and he is one of the most experienced veterans of this field in Israel. A description by Eilon Aviram based on visitation and observation of his classes follows.
The Center for the Gifted at the Oranim (Pines) Institute enjoys a wide array of resources, amongst which, is the class for computerized musical creativity. This class takes place inside a three-story building surrounded by pine trees and professional landscaping. The classroom consists of about 20 computerized stations equipped with headphones that allow students to listen to and compose their work without interruption from fellow students or their surroundings. An important principle of The Center for the Gifted, and other centers like it across Israel, is the ability to provide its students with new and challenging experiences that would be difficult to find in traditional educational systems.
The students are occupied with personal work in front of their computers, earphones over their heads and right hands over their mice, they occasionally type upon their keyboards. Quiet fills the classroom, and every once in a while it is possible to hear students conversing, or singing. Each computer screen displays different images, and it is apparent that different programs are in use; and that each student is working on a different project that that of his classmate.
I find a large selection of compositional types which can be divided into three principle genres: compositions for rock songs, instrumental compositions, and music for video clips. The students are conservative in their explanations, but Ami elaborates: “…this student chose Gregorian music as the basis for his composition and he is attaching a picture to it…at this computer you can view video clips prepared by students from years past…here is a piece that a female student prepared as background to the song ‘It’s All for You’ using the program Visual Arranger, and she just finished recording the vocal parts using another program by the name of Acid.”
Each program has characteristics that make it suitable for a specific musical purpose, and between all the programs put together, a complete experience and a diversity of activity is created.
Ami: “some students get a little bored and rediscover interest in compositions and programs that we started working with at the beginning of the year.
Because four distinct programs are available in the class (Acid, Visual Arranger, Sound- Forge, and Vegas), variety and interest are always in large supply.
Vegas is excellent for music and image editing, and it is a powerful tool with great results because it can be approached from either the music or the image angle.
…the preliminary tutorials in Visual Arranger are very basic, but they also provide the freedom to select various styles, as well as, improvise.
This recipe for integration makes the work attractive.
And as such, I can’t find a single student in any class who isn’t occupied in musical creativity. Everyone appears busy and engaged, and we are mere weeks away from the end of the school year – a time when learning intensity generally decreases. It’s important to note that they all take pride in presenting the fruits of their labors, and so, it is obvious that one composition is indeed worth a thousand words.
The principles emphasized here are mixing and matching programs and activities for each student’s individual level. That is to say, for each student - at different times during the lesson, and at different lessons during the course of the year - different subjects and directions for development can be found, each with their own unique characteristics that are neither identical nor similar to those of other students in the class. This is a method of learning that is very different from the norms found in traditional classrooms where all students learn the exact same thing at the exact same time. This method is also different in that it demands that the teacher prepare a technologically rich and diverse curriculum, as well as, have complete knowledge of all the different learning materials. It is safe to conclude that this learning style was created to serve the student, and to fit him or her with the ideal learning environment: both flexible and individualized.