Anne Modugno is a retired music teacher who developed and implemented an innovative Electronic Music program for high school students in 1968. A highly energetic and motivated educator, Anne explored the use of technology to realize the musical potential that exists in everyone. Composing electronic music was treated as a sound-oriented study, with sound itself as the significant element and focus.
With relentless enthusiasm, Ms. Modugno inspired listening and appreciation of modern composition through every means possible, whether by demonstrating the use of a reel-to-reel tape recorder to produce echo effects, or hanging an oven rack on a string suspended from each of the ears and ringing it with a pencil, there was a constant feeling of excitement and discovery that motivated students to find out for themselves what they did not know.
Common to each school was an inexpensive musique concrete studio divided into seven basic areas: (1) Sound sources; microphones, sine- and squarewave generators, white noise generators or tape loops, and other sound sources; (2) Sound modifiers; reverberation units, electronic switches, pitch change through tape speed control, sound filters, and ring modulators; (3) Recording units; two stereo tape decks; (4) Amplification; preamplifiers and amplifiers; (5) Connectors; modified microphone mixers, patch panels, jacks, plugs, and cables; (6) Speakers and earphones; and (7) Miscellaneous tape splicing, marking, and erasing equipment, reels, and general supplies.
Knowledge of the way in which fundamental elements, such as key, time signatures, clefs, note and rest values, were signified became a resource with which students began to establish their own systems. Whether the student chose to initiate an entirely new type of coding for his own electronic creations or decided to incorporate the traditional with the new was left to their discretion. The students soon realized that they were establishing certain criteria and goals. In establishing an adequate coding system, flexibility, comprehensiveness, and clarity emerged as key factors. When the students found that they required certain facts in order to move ahead with their project, it motivated them to search out materials to acquire the necessary answers and understandings.
This process of observation, experience and hands-on investigation carries over into many other disciplines. Indeed, much of what I’ve personally discovered about computer coding and interface design originated with this method of education, where I was shown what has been done in the past, was encouraged to generate my own material, then to arrive at a point where I was highly motivated to seek out the next steps to accomplish what I wanted to do.
I got the feeling that Anne Modugno was not so much interested in teaching music as jump-starting students to learn on their own. By providing the resources and enthusiasm to make students interested in their own work, she instilled a methodology for self-sustaining growth and development. Her vivacious warmth and dedicated liveliness will be remembered by all her students for years to come.