The Special Needs Music Classroom: Mission Control

Mac OS X's Mission Control appeals to many users, from musicians to editors, graphic designers to web developers'¦ and also to Special Needs Music Teachers! Read on to hear how it helps the later.  

As a teacher in the NYC public school system, I always need to find ways to make the most of my time and space. I travel from room to room for most of the week, and I can't afford to spend a lot of time setting up as I start each class. One of the things that have helped me expedite my transition into each lesson is a very clever OSX Lion feature, Mission Control. For a great overview of how to use Mission Control, check out this well written hub article Mac OS X Lion: Mission Control Tips. In this article I will discuss my use of the feature in my day-to-day teaching.


So, before my morning begins, I take some time to set up Mission Control for my three morning classes. For each class, Teaching Points must be posted throughout the lesson. A Teaching Point states the goal of the lesson. I move the Teaching Points for each lesson to each Desktop that I'm using for that lesson.

Morning Inspiration From The Boss

My first class is learning Bruce Springsteen's 'War'. Although they've been making progress learning their parts, and playing together as a group, I'd really like them to infuse more energy and passion into the performance. What better way to inspire them to do this than to show them a video of the E-Street Band performing it live. I will want the class to rehearse the song immediately after viewing the video, so I have the Video on Desktop 1, and the Logic Project for 'War' on Desktop 2. That way, I can just three-finger-swipe on my MacBook Pro's trackpad to go from one to the other very quickly – no waisted time, no lost inspiration.

Video on Desktop 1

Logic project on Desktop 2

Go Figure

My next class is doing a project involving Figure, Propellerheads' iOS app, and GarageBand for iPad. The class is using six iPad devices, so I route the audio from them into a Logic project. I have that project set up and ready to go on a third Desktop, so that when the class is ready to start playing, I just swipe on the track pad to get to their Teaching Points and Logic project in Mission Control. That's much faster than starting Logic, or bringing up the Teaching Points for the lesson.

Logic project is set up and ready to go

Working Together

The third morning class is doing a collaborative spontaneous composition based on a fixed bass line and drum groove. The Teaching Points for this class are designed to remind the students that they are involved in a group music making activity, and that they will get a much better result by working together and listening to each other. This project involves seven iPad devices, so I have another Logic project ready to go on another Desktop.

Another Logic project is ready to go on antother Desktop

Further Inspiration

One of the many useful features of Mission Control is that each desktop can be personalized with its own desktop picture. This in and of itself can have many applications in the classroom. For me, I always keep some of Zoe Malkin's Photographic artistry on my Mission Control Desktops for personal inspiration. Zoe is my niece, and she has a great eye and artistic sense, especially for a sophomore in college!

Zoe took this while in New Orleans helping to rebuild a community still suffering from the affects of Katrina

Zoe took this while in New Orleans helping to rebuild a community still suffering from the affects of Katrina.

Discover more of Zoe Malkin's photography on flickr here.

A graduate of Manhattan School of Music with a B.A. in Classical Piano, Adam Goldberg has toured the U.S. with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and has gigged throughout the tri-state area, working with such artists as Michel Camilo, Lew Soloff, and Steve Turre. Mr. Goldberg currently enjoys the privilege of teaching Special Needs stude... Read More


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