Music: The Language of Global Learning

Oaks Christian Collaborates with Swedish Academy of Music and Business

by Dr. Rod Berger

Mary Kay Altizer believes in using the tools of music technology to amplify the experiences of her students in the classroom. As the Department Chair of the Performing Arts at Oaks Christian School, she has harnessed the power of a student’s own tools from their everyday life. Using laptops, tablets, and smartphones Mary Kay ignited their creativity and problem solving by encouraging collaboration with teachers and one another.

Mary Kay enrolled in a class about global learning while working towards her Master's degree, and a passion was sparked. “Global learning isn’t just an education tool, it’s a tool for all of humanity,” Mary Kay says. “It’s no secret that we live in a world where we don’t trust each other; we don’t connect with each other, we don’t talk to each other… and connecting students together through the power of music is the first step to solving this huge issue.”

Mary Kay formed a partnership between Oaks Christian and the Academy of Music and Business in Sweden, a country that is #2 in the world for composing and producing pop music hits, and launched a pilot program using Soundtrap as their common platform. The program chose twelve students each from Sweden and the United States to collaborate on a cover tune. Soundtrap is non-proprietary and dovetailed perfectly with their project; it works on any device and students can text, video chat, and swap sound files back and forth easily.

As a result of their collaboration, students flew to Stockholm to perform a joint concert at the United States embassy in Stockholm. Unfortunately, they landed on April 7th, 2017 to hear the news of the truck terror attack in downtown Stockholm that morning. After many consultations and much soul searching, everyone decided that the concert would go on. So with NO rehearsals outside of their Soundtrap sessions while still thousands of miles away from each other, the orchestras from the Swedish Academy of Music and Business and the Oaks Christian School sat down together and performed a flawless 30-minute concert at the American embassy.

“What happened wasn’t just musically or technologically amazing,” Mary Kay says. “The power of the music at that moment, in that place, in those tragic circumstances, was almost supernatural.”

With the will, the desire, the talent, and the technology, the language of music that spans the globe came together in that room that day and embodied the best that humanity has to offer. “Music is the demilitarized zone, the safe place,” Mary Kay states. “The beauty of teaching with the music technology that is available out there is that students in the remotest and poorest areas can connect from their classroom with the rest of the world through music.”

Below is the Soundtrap-sponsored video of that amazing collaboration.

About Mary Kay Altizer

Mary Kay Altizer is the Department Chair of the Performing Arts at Oaks Christian School. She conducts the orchestra, heads up the piano department, and has developed and teaches the digital recording and production program, utilizing Pro Tools, Logic Pro X, and Soundtrap. She is also the writer, arranger, and producer of Oaks Christian’s annual Spring Spectacular.

Mary Kay has performed in many musical arenas from symphony pianist to studio work and is staff composer and arranger at Oaks Christian School. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music, a Professional Certification in Digital Recording and Production from Berklee College of Music, and a Masters of Arts in Educational Technology from Azusa Pacific University.

Mary Kay is in her 17th year of teaching at Oaks Christian, and was a recipient of the Atsinger Award for Teaching Excellence, naming her “Teacher of the Year.”

Follow Mary Kay Altizer on Twitter

This article was originally published in the Huffington Post by Dr. Rob Berger.

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