I used to love PowerPoint. Every lesson would feature a carefully crafted PowerPoint with the clearest graphical illustrations I could create. Dots would appear on keyboards, fretboards and drum kits showing pupils precisely what they needed to do and, often, they would appear in time to the music. I had my laptop set up for ‘presenter mode’ so that the projector showed pupils the slides while my screen showed notes, a timer and the next slide. I read everything the internet had to offer on instructional design, to the extent that I could probably have quoted any post on Presentation Zen.
In recent years, however, I’ve surprised myself whenever I switch the projector on. Even then, it wasn’t for my old pal PowerPoint. I’d play a quick video, demonstrate something in a sequencer or maybe use Apple TV to project the feed from my iPhone’s camera so pupils could see the piano keys I was playing. So, what changed?
In short, my lessons got a lot more practical and a lot more pupil led. It’s hard to have a relevant PowerPoint on the screen if pupils are at wildly different points in the learning process. Using breakout spaces would further exasperate this; what’s the point of a PowerPoint that’s only visible in one room?
Presentation software would still have its uses for me but, more often than not, it would involve changing the slide size to ‘A4’ and using it to create a handout. Maybe I’d create a revision video using PowerPoint or Keynote, which would then get uploaded to YouTube. It was important that anything I was ‘presenting’ to the pupils was mobile and capable of being used by the pupils. A handout ticks that box. A short YouTube video (watched on a mobile device or a laptop) does that too. A projection on a whiteboard? Not so much.
PowerPoint’s a powerful tool but in the modern music classroom, I’m feeling that its value lies in its non-presentation potential. Am I alone in this? Send me a tweet or comment on the Facebook page if your lessons still routinely feature a PowerPoint.