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Band Teacher Jeremy Lawi Earns EdTech Digest Award Recognition for Innovative Use of Technology

By Julie Funasaki Yuen and Nancy Arcayna

Music production is an important part of Mid-Pacific Band Teacher Jeremy Lawi’s professional life and something he has always wanted to share with his band and music students. During the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lawi’s classes moved to a virtual format, with the band students attending from their homes instead of playing together. Not seeing this as a challenge, Lawi took the opportunity to build music production into the band curriculum.

“The pandemic forced our class to quickly pivot into unknown territory,” shares Lawi. “Instead of lamenting over what was lost, we focused on new possibilities.” 

While the students performed separately from their homes, Lawi made use of the Soundtrap platform to allow their individual performances to be weaved together into a collaborative piece. Soundtrap is an audio-creating online platform that enables teachers to create music, podcasts, language, literacy training and sound recordings with students. Its online digital audio workstation enabled the class to create music together while they were physically distant. 

This innovative approach earned Lawi 2022 EdTech Digest Award finalist recognition for innovative use of technology in an arts setting. 

“Teaching and using this new software came with challenges, but the students were resilient,” says Lawi. “In a regular class, they receive a ton of real-time feedback all while listening to everyone play together. In quarantine, individual students were engaged in more self-assessment and had only color-coded waveforms to use to collaborate with one another.”

The students learned new skills like microphone placement and how to splice audio. At a time when practicing together was not possible, they were able to enjoy the new experience of recording and engineering their own music in band class. This use of technology in the classroom also allowed the Mid-Pacific band the opportunity to collaborate with alumni around the country, weaving together a multi-generation performance that would have been impossible to do in person. 

When the students shared their videos and recordings with the community, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The Mid-Pacific Symphonic Wind Ensemble piece, “Fright Night,” was featured on Hawaii News Now, KHON2 and the KITV news broadcasts in the lead up to Halloween. 

Even though they missed playing music physically together, Lawi’s music production curriculum allowed the students to create together virtually and keep music alive at Mid-Pacific.