Recently, I have read a lot of criticism of children growing up in the midst of the technological revolution. Burying their faces in their phones, e-readers, and iPads, this generation has always had a wealth of information at their fingertips. While many say that growing up with technology impedes creativity, imagination, focus, memory, mindfulness, and the like, I disagree. If used correctly, this coming generation has so many doors opened to them. They have the tools to record albums, direct movies, take photographs, write novels, and research to their heart’s content. They have unlimited resources available in the palm of their hands. In my voice studio and the opera camps I run each year, I still see unbelievable imaginations, unwavering courage, and mindfulness. Each child has their own personality and unique approach to life. While I have had to ask several students to put their phones down, once they do, they shine as performers, singers, and human beings.
Just today, one of my new piano students was frustrated, worried, and becoming flustered on a specific fingering. Suddenly, she closed her eyes, crossed her legs on the piano bench, and uttered a hum to herself. Opening her eyes, she played the line seemlessly. It was beautiful to see this young girl able to harness her focus, soothe her mind, and find success. Her face lit up with joy at her own ability to be fully present in her music-making. Rather than being flighty, giving up, or letting frustration get the better of her, she persevered and changed her mind-body relationship for the better. We then used her phone’s recording device to track her progress and provide her with instant feedback. The beaming smile she offered me after hearing herself play was the bright spot of my day.
Technology is here to stay. Children today have never known life without Internet or instant messaging. But, if we can teach them how to use these devices creatively, efficiently, and as an extension of their own mental abilities, we won’t be raising a generation of technology zombies, but instead a group of well-informed, well-rounded, and successful children. The choice is ours.