Music Department Goes Digital

New digital music lab gives students more ways to learn

By: Becky St. Clair

Senior music performance major Bethany Miller works on her version of "Harmony in Fourths" for Composition class, taught by Dr. Lyn Ritz.

After many months of planning and dreaming, WWU’s Music Department finally has a new digital music lab. The lab is made up of 8 workstations, each equipped with a full 88-key electronic piano with weighted keys (making the touch akin to that of an actual piano), a sustain pedal, and headphones.

Music can be recorded into the computers by playing on the keyboards, entering the scores into either Finale or Sibelius, programs made specifically for music composition. MacGamut, an ear-training program, is also installed on each computer. When it becomes available, a fourth program will be installed which will contain sample sounds of each orchestra instrument, allowing the digital creation of a wide range of instrumental music.

Originally created to be of service to a new class offered in spring quarter ‘08, the lab is currently for use only by students enrolled in specific classes in the music department. Lyn Ritz, associate professor of music, will be teaching Music Notation Lab in the spring, a required lab taught in conjunction with the third quarter of Music Theory I, and therefore required of all music majors and minors. The lab is also currently being used by students enrolled in Composition.

“This is a dream of mine that has finally come true,” says Matthew James, chair of the Department of Music at WWU. “We are fortunate to have Lyn Ritz, who is uniquely well-trained to teach in this type of environment, as a part of our faculty.”

The lab became usable toward the end of January, and the music department continues to consider how best to integrate this new resource into their curriculum.

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