Dr. Julie Hill, Director of Percussion Studies at the University of Tennessee at Martin, is highly regarded as a performer and pedagogue specializing in contemporary and world percussion. She has presented clinics and concerts for universities and state Day of Percussion festivals throughout the US and is a frequent guest lecturer and performer on the topic of Brazilian percussion.
1. Do you think technology helps you teach better? If so, how?
Technology factors into my daily private lesson teaching. For example, each week students have listening assignments. I post the songs on iTunes U and then the students can listen to them anywhere they have an Internet connection. Additionally, I am able to create entire curriculums with an enhanced online learning component. This semester we are focusing on frame drums from around the world. I created a week-by-week progression of study for my students using Pages in iWork. In the document, I can create hyperlinks to supplemental videos, podcasts, and lessons of frame drummers from around the world, thus making this a much more meaningful experience for my students. I was able to export the entire presentation into a Microsoft Word format and then email it to every student (and all the hyperlinks still worked great). Now the students have access to the supplemental curriculum all the time and they can practice at home.
2. Is there anything at UTM in regard to technology that you would like to mention that makes a difference for you as you do your job?
The real difference technology has made for me at UTM has been in recruiting. UT Martin isn’t on everyone’s radar. I think we all would admit that. However, by creating a very hip website, students from all over Tennessee and to some extent, the rest of the country, know who we are and what we do. When I first came here, I always had to explain to my colleagues across the country that the T was not for Texas. Now, everyone knows about our program and where we are located. For example, I have a student from Chicago coming in to audition next week. This is becoming more and more common. Potential students like to “shop” for the best program. They can sit at home with their parents, go to percussion studio websites, and compare the pros and cons of each school before ever coming to campus. Our website is absolutely filled with information for our current students, but also audition information, videos, photos, guest artist information, and our calendar of events – all of these being very enticing to a high school senior and even younger students that are planning ahead. The ITC helped me so much in the beginning with getting the site set up. The thing I appreciate the most is that the staff taught me how to do things for myself in regards to web design. That way I don’t have to go to the library to update my site. I can do this from home even which allows me to keep the site constantly updated. Current and potential students like to know they are getting the latest information. The website has been my greatest asset iin growing the quality of my studio quality for the past 6 years.
3. What are some current things that you are doing with your courses and your students that you are particularly proud of and want the campus to know about?
We made a video for the Pearl Drums website this past year and the ITC helped me post it on our UTM YouTube channel.
What I am most proud of though is our “How to Prepare an Audition for the UTM Percussion Studio” tutorial video on our homepage. The ITC helped me embed the video on the page itself so it’s easy for students to access. I get about fifteen inquiries every year from high school seniors wanting to know what they need to do to in order to come and be a part of our studio. It was very consuming to respond to each request with all of the necessary information. Now I can direct them to our percussion homepage and have them click on the video tutorial. In addition, it was a great experience for them to have a hand in creating the actual content. We collaborated on the script together, and so it became a pedagogical lesson for all of us in making sure we put together an effective tool to help potential students.