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Howard County Teacher Nationally Recognized for Using Technology in Music Education

Richard McCready, music technology teacher at River Hill High School, has been selected as the 2013 winner of the TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award.

Technology for Music Education (TI:ME) announced that Richard McCready, music educator at River Hill High School in Clarksville, has been honored with the 2013 Mike Kovins TI:ME Teacher of the year award.  

The award recognizes McCready, 45, for the numerous ways in which he integrates music technology into music education.

McCready and his wife Julia, who live in Columbia with one of their two daughters, flew to San Antonio, TX where a formal presentation of the award took place during the TI:ME National Conference Friday, Feb. 15 at 12:30 p.m.

McCready held teaching positions at a few schools in Maryland including Towson University before he began teaching music at River Hill in 2008. Since then, he has helped develop a 25-station music technology lab, which includes computer terminals set up for each student to listen to  and compose their own music with a music technology program. 

As the students at River Hill began to excel in this program, the Howard County Board of Education took notice and in the 2011-2012 school year, commissioned McCready to travel to all of the schools in the area and set up 20 similar music technology stations.    

McCready, who has been teaching for 20 years, also helps to train music staff across 12 high schools and 18 middle schools.

Music and music technology also plays a big role in other areas of his life.  Outside of school, McCready performs professionally on organ, piano, guitar, harp, tuba and vocally.  He also co-authored the book “Making Music with Garage Band and Mixcraft” published in 2011.

Patch: How has music and technology education changed in your time as a teacher?  

McCready: “When I first started teaching, we were recording on cassette recorders. Even synthesizers and keyboards were very high-tech at that time.  Now at this point, each student’s computer in the classroom has the power and capacity of what a full studio used to have in the past. Also, the companies that make technology software have changed their marketing strategies. They now realize that students of today are the consumers of tomorrow and companies are willing to help get students technology that is up to date.”

Patch: Do you have a guess as to future changes to music technology and education?

McCready: We are just now embarking on a new stage in music education. In the past, music education has been dominated by chorus, orchestra and ensemble programs; however this only caters to 20% of the students. Music technology caters to the other 80% of students who love music, all the ones who love listening to it all day on their iPods, but simply are not performance based. 

Also, we are in the age of creation in music technology. One hundred years ago, art went in a similar movement - instead of simply learning about the great painters and copying them, people began to create their own art in their own styles. It is the same with music technology now; and though the power of the Internet, students winning national contests for something they created on a computer in their own basement and uploaded to YouTube. 

…And through all of this, TI:ME is a trailblazer in helping to use technology to change the paradigm of music.”

No matter where the next few years take him, McCready’s primary goal remains the same - to ensure that his students are happy and creative.  

“If my students are not happy and creative, I’m not satisfied that I’m doing my job," he said. "Nobody will ever convince me that tests or grades or rubrics are more important than the joy of creativity.  Music is a joy to teach, it is a joy to learn. I hope that we will all continue to keep it so.”

MG42 February 19, 2013 at 12:54 PM
Kids, it's cool if you want to take up music as a hobby, but to be a productive member of society and make decent money you need to focus on science, tech, engineering and math. Is that harder than music? Yes. But it pays much better and makes you employable. Ask any of your teachers who disagrees with that what kind of car they drive, and what job opportunities they have outside of teaching.
Alice K E Marks February 19, 2013 at 01:17 PM
Oh, H.R., what a sad world it would be if the measure of one's worth was a car! And how empty a life without creativity and passion! Sure, STEM is one step in helping students be "career ready," but without the critical and creative thinking skills which come from the arts, students and adults are less whole and happy. And these students, learning how to make their own paths, their own forms of expression, do not depend on your judgement. Be whatever kind of "productive member of society" you want to be - but please, don't limit others based on your own limitations.
O.P. Ditch February 19, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Right on Alice, money is not everything in life.
MG42 February 19, 2013 at 05:17 PM
Yes kids, study the arts and put your liberal arts degrees to good use by playing the harp whilst standing in the unemployment line or by occupying Wall Street with others who were lied to by teachers about their futures. Money isn't everything, but what money can't buy a liberal arts degree can't get you either. None of these other two commenters are leaving Howard County for the righteousness of third world poverty. There's a lot this world has to offer- be smart and give yourself the tools to get yours.
Alice K E Marks February 19, 2013 at 05:58 PM
H.R., for someone who believes he is a productive member of society, I wonder how being nasty on the Internet plays into your productivity - such as your constant and incessant insults, masked (poorly) by tired out conservative rhetoric. Perhaps you could benefit from some creative thinking, yourself. Step one: stop judging other people. Step two: actually think about the content of the articles you comment on. Step three: find a way to be happy without needing to denigrate others. And, as I will actually address the content of this article, I suggest doing some research into music tech careers (instead of bloviating on things you don't understand). What the world has to offer open-minded people might surprise you.
MG42 February 19, 2013 at 07:23 PM
Haha, Alice, since I disagree with you, I guess that makes me "nasty". Nevermind kids, major in whatever you want. Take your $60,000 masters degree in some liberal arts subject and get a job somewhere where you can ride your unicorn to work everyday. You're special, just like everyone else. The world owes you.
Brook Hubbard February 20, 2013 at 03:50 PM
Music and the arts play an important role, from the individual to entire cultures. Child education and memory is increased through the use of music (Levinowitz, 1999). Music has long played a role in psychological and physiological healing processes (Chémali, 2010). Arts have been used to empower minorities and poverty-stricken populations, providing them with the psychosocial support necessary to move beyond their situations (Estrella, 2010). From a sociological viewpoint, arts, science, and culture are interrelated. Creativity is believed to be the root of democratic societies, pBastosGude, 2009). Art allows people to explore the moral and ethical values that confront them and is connected to changes in civil socieities (Herron, 2009). The consensus is that music and the arts are as necessary to society as philosophy and science, allowing cultures to make sense of life and create meaning out of the world (de Oliveira & da Silva, 2011). Encouraging arts has nothing to do with encouraging "useless" pursuits. Life is not defined by monetary income but by whether our pursuits enrich society and ourselves. You may not make as much money as people with specific degrees or trade skills, but that doesn't mean you will be poor or unhappy.
Brook Hubbard February 20, 2013 at 03:50 PM
References: Bastos, Flávia. (2009, November). Can art education shape society? Art Education, 62(6), 4-5. Chémali, K. R. (2010, April). The science of music rehumanizing medicine: Scientists and musicians discover the importance of their collaboration. Music and Medicine, 2(2), 73-77. de Oliveira, J. A., & da Silva, A. J. (2011, December). Arts, culture and science and their relationship. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 24(6), 565-574. Estrella, M. A. (2010, September). The vital importance of the arts in personal development. Museum International, 62(3), 26-30. Herron, E. C. (2009, Fall). Feeling, art, and sustainable civil society. Jung Journal, 3(4), 112-122. Levinowitz, L. M. (1999, July). The importance of music in early childhood. Music Educators Journal, 86(1), 17.
Frank in Elkridge February 20, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Taking music in school actually contributes toward STEM goals and doesn't necessarily mean that the student is going into "liberal arts" or "fine arts". Mr. McCready is actually a prime example of being versed both in technology and "arts". Learning music actually enhances the math and computer science skills of students. If you think of what technology is used for, much of it has to do with the delivery of music, video and arts to the masses of consumers. The development of mobile technology and personal computing had much to do with iTunes, graphic arts, movies, 3D, and CGI. Learning music is difficult, and requires painstaking practice, skill, and discipline. As such it is a good skill to acquire even if one is not going to be a professional in music arts. Plus it's plain enjoyable and beautiful when done well...
Carrie L February 21, 2013 at 11:08 PM
Amen and thank you.
Maria Andrasik March 01, 2013 at 12:28 AM
Frank from Elkridge, you are 100% correct. I am a music teacher and see the inner development of a child. Especially, building up the courage, self-confidence and self-expression of feelings, listening skils, building memory, focusing element and many more just to name it. Leading two Piano Lab with 10 small keyboards with enthusiastic students is fantastic.....wish to have a real Piano Lab with control monitor. Look at the Pope Benedict XVI - pianist and great leader of the Catholic around the world. It is true though, that music is not appreciated here in US as in Europe where I studied. Therefore the apportunities for an employment in musical fields are not awarded for the hard work you put in. But the music is for 100% shaping a human being into higher level of human qualities. Maria
MG42 March 01, 2013 at 12:50 AM
"Look at the Pope Benedict XVI - pianist and great leader of the Catholic around the world." LOL. The pope has contributed nothing to society and believes in spirits that live outside our world of space and time. In fact, I would argue that religion has been a net burden to society.
MG42 March 01, 2013 at 01:57 AM
"Arts have been used to empower minorities and poverty-stricken populations, providing them with the psychosocial support necessary to move beyond their situations" Unlike STEM degrees, right?

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