iEnsemble faculty and students using their iPads

The iEnsemble (Music 312/597A) is a new course being offered through the Penn State’s School of Music. A collaborative course, taught by Ann Clements (Music Education), Paul Barsom (Music Composition) and Tom Cody (Music Theory), the iEnsemble was created to explore the potential of the iPad  to rethink traditional music instruction. By taking advantage of the device’s  portability, wealth of musically related apps, easy to learn interface and relative cost (as compared to traditional instruments) , the iPad has the potential to encompass the entirety of the musical process, from education to editing, arrangement, composition, performance, and even collaboration.


With the support of the Educational Gaming Commons and members of Educational Technology Services, each student in the iEnsemble class is given an iPad for the semester, which they are expected to use for both in class activities and out of class assignments.

The goals of the course are:

  • To broaden and strengthen students’ understanding and application of song arrangement and composition skills
  • To broaden students understanding of music technology through the exploration and study of music applications (music “apps”).
  • To understand basic properties if synthesizer technology.
  • To provide student an opportunity to learn basic recording properties.
  • To expand student’s perspective of what music is and how technology can help to alter or shape their definition of music.
  • To strength students’ professional discourse, writing, and presentation skills.


Connection Between iEnsemble and the EGC

Though not a game in the traditional sense, the iEnsemble course supports the inclusion of play in its most basic form into the curriculum. By reducing the barriers to entry, improving immediacy of individual, peer, and instructor feedback, reducing risks associated with failure, and encouraging exploration and experimentation (incidentally, all benefits of learning games), the iEnsemble is rethinking the paradigm of music education in ways that align perfectly with the EGC’s core mission. Gamification is the inclusion of game mechanics in non game contexts – the iEnsemble course can be thought of as including game philosophies in non game contexts.



Check out some of the music being produced on the PSUiEnsemble Youtube Channel

iEnsemble story and video from WTAJ (local CBS affiliate)

iEnsemble story from the Penn State newspaper, the Daily Collegian