Tom Lopez
design by nadya primak // brushes by linda rae // code by tom lopez © 2013-2024 fwmp
Oberlin College Professor of Computer Music & Digital Arts

I adhere to social theories of learning, namely, that people learn better in social contexts. For me, this motivates a Socratic, dialogical rapport with students, as opposed to a hierarchical relationship. In this framework, verbalization is an important step in learning. Studies show that students who verbalize knowledge, tend to comprehend it better than students who don’t. Learning is even stronger when students explain what they know or teach what they know. So, one of my goals in a classroom setting is to create an environment where students verbalize their understanding of the information. As a department chair, I also create and support opportunities for students to teach.

The recursive processes inherent in discussion can allow understanding to deepen. But it means, on a superficial level, that as a teacher I must relinquish some control of the learning trajectory. My teaching experience feels not so much like imparting information, as guiding discussion, which is essentially collaborative in nature. In the end, students rightly feel that they are learning from each other. I would like to think I can take credit for creating that environment, crafting the dynamic in which the learning process unfolds.

Sonic Arts Workshop Co-Director

The Sonic Arts Workshop is designed for high school students who want to focus on the composition of electroacoustic music and expand their technical and creative resources. Participants are chosen through a competitive selection process. The workshop is not open to students who have graduated from high school.

During this one-week workshop, topics will include digital audio editing and manipulation, real-time computer music performance techniques, and discussion of pieces from the field's growing repertoire. The program will cover issues of interest to young composers heading toward conservatory studies and those generally interested in experimenting with electroacoustic music and its intersections with other disciplines.

Avivo Teaching Artist

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Avivo helps teachers and learners of all ages embrace music as a living language and develop their creative voice with courage and authenticity. Our approach to music education is full of life. It is playful and active, integrated and embodied.

Some of the teaching I have done for Avivo includes several iterations of "Freedom to Create: Improvisational & Technological Skills for Music Teachers, A five-day graduate seminar for the Oberlin Conservatory Master of Music Teaching Program (MMT).

Testamonials from my teacher training workshops:

I wanted to share with you that I am teaching a musicianship class to three middle school students this year, two of which were in a beginning level theory class I taught last year. They are the "I hate music" types of kids (which until meeting these students I'd never encountered any human being with this attitude!) and were clearly dreading being forced by their parents to take my class this year. I suggested to them in the first class that we could incorporate some computer music in addition to the usual material and they latched right on. Which brings us to the end of the semester...a week from tomorrow we're having an all-school recital and all three students are performing Sonic Postcards on the recital!

They've been working with Audacity. Just as I expected, they've learned the program more quickly than I have and this has really been a fantastic in-road to appreciating sound and opening their minds to the possibility of enjoying music!

Thanks to you for providing the kind of foundation I needed to provide this to these kids! Building music lovers...a few students at a time.

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I had to share with you - my music appreciation students have been writing sound walks and going on each other's sound walks, and one wrote this: "I remember when I was in fifth grade trying to teach myself how to play the piano. In the book it explained half note, quarter notes and whole notes and of course the rests. To me the rhythm or pace of the cars passing is like those notes. The cars passing at 70 mph hour have a quick short swoosh. The cars in the slower lanes have a little bit longer swoosh and the sound flows a little better. Then you add the traffic from the access road at a slower 45 to 50 mph. These are great examples to me of Presto, Allegro, and Moderato. The different timings and lengths of the sounds are very similar to whole, half and quarter notes. The different timings and rhythm are a musical song that is complete when you finally add the various construction sounds and dogs barking. It's almost like a symphony." I thought that was SO COOL!

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