Research Studies in Music Education

Fostering music education research internationally

Communities of practice for preservice and early career music educators

Welcome to RSME’s research roundup! Here we assemble literature from our own journal, as well as other publications, that address online conversations about music education and related topics. Our fourth roundup, inspired by Musical Futures’ recent #mufuchat, brings together research indirectly related to the @musicalfutures topic about whether previous mufuchats have changed followers’ teaching practices. Participating music teachers cited teacher talk and effective feedback as one aspect of their teaching that had been modified by the weekly twitter conversations.

The literature below does not address feedback issues, but rather, considers the notion of #mufuchat as a space where music teachers can come together to share stories and ideas that may impact their future practice. That a twitter hashtag could enable such impactful weekly conversations advocates for the categorisation of such twitter communities as communities of practice (Wenger, 1998), wherein like-minded participants pull together to intentionally improve their practice, learning together through regular interaction. While communities of practice are useful for the professional development of even the most experienced teachers, the literature below focuses on how they can be particularly helpful for preservice and early career teachers.

The convenience of online interaction, as exemplified by #mufuchat, has been utilised by some teaching courses to form virtual communities of practice throughout preservice practical teaching experiences. Fitzpatrick (2013) describes one course in which, in addition to weekly face-to-face seminars, preservice teachers undertaking their teaching practicum would have to contribute weekly to a class blog. Contributions had to include a weekly blog post on a topic of their choice, as well as responses to two posts from other students. The class blog became a virtual community of practice as preservice teachers engaged in mutual problem solving, and the sharing of ideas and resources. Similarly, Blair (2013) considers the the benefits of online blogging throughout practicum experiences, emphasising how the process of narrating teaching experiences shapes one’s teaching persona.

Cain (2011) and Snyder (1999) examine the benefits of preservice teachers reflecting on their practice amongst peers through regular, face-to-face meetings. Like Blair’s (2013) and Fitzpatrick’s (2013) findings regarding online communities of practice, Cain and Snyder found that peers sharing solutions that had worked for them was an effective way for trainee teachers to approach problems in the classroom. Cain calls attention to the features of good conversation and dialogue that are evident in discussions amongst equals, and the absence of the problematic power relations that exist between university supervisors and trainees. Further enhancing the democratic elements of the structured discussions was the fact that the topic for each conversation was voted upon by the participating preservice teachers.

The advantages of dialogue between peers is echoed by Blair’s (2008) evaluation of a specific beginning teacher mentorship program in Midwestern United States. Blair suggests that in place of the traditionally dyad mentor-mentee structure, beginning teachers get more out of a community of practice that includes novice teachers as well as experienced teachers at varying career levels. Such a system might foster more “growth and mutual engagement than a traditional mentorship model” (p. 112), as the experience of sharing stories amongst a group of colleagues reduces complicated power relations. Gruenhagen (2012) similarly espouses regular conversations between teachers about their practice. A case study of a first year early childhood teacher in the East Coast of the United States, the study’s findings call for a range of teachers (from novices to the much more experienced) of various ages to come together to share stories.

Roulston et al. (2005) suggest a different framework for early career mentorship, in which teachers come together with university educators not as a support group but in order to collaboratively conduct action research to improve the teachers’ classroom practices. Ilari (2010) explores another manifestation of communities of practice that extends beyond sharing stories and reflecting on individual practice. Because of the lack of placement schools available within a Brazilian music teacher training course, a ‘free day’ of music classes was offered for babies and young children at the university. Here, student-teachers were mentored and engaged in peer-learning, participating in communities of practice not only in theory, but also in practice, as they developed teaching skills and identities through a hands-on approach.

If any of the following article titles interests you, click on the reference to be taken to the abstract.

Blair, D. (2008). Mentoring novice teachers: Developing a community of practice. Research Studies in Music Education, 30(2), 99–117. doi: 10.1177/1321103X08097502

Blair, D. V. (2013). Chelsea’s journey of becoming a teacher: A narrative of then and now. Research Studies in Music Education, 35(1), 39–50. doi: 10.1177/1321103X13478865

Cain, T. (2011). How trainee music teachers learn about teaching by talking to each other: An action research study. International Journal of Music Education, 29(2), 141–154. doi: 10.1177/0255761410396961

Fitzpatrick, K. R. (2013, November 4). Blogging through the music student teaching experience. Research Studies in Music Education. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1321103X13509350

Gruenhagen, L. M. (2012). Learning in practice: A first-year early childhood music teacher navigates the complexities of teaching. Research Studies in Music Education, 34(1), 29–44. doi: 10.1177/1321103X11430593

Ilari, B. (2010). A community of practice in music teacher training: The case of Musicalização Infantil. Research Studies in Music Education, 32(1), 43–60. doi: 10.1177/1321103X10370096

Roulston, K., Legette, R., DeLoach, M., Buckhalter-Pittman, C., Cory, L., & Grenier, R. S.  (2005). Education: Mentoring and community through research. Research Studies in Music Education, 25(1), 1–22. doi: 10.1177/1321103X050250010501

Snyder, D. W. (1999). Metcalf Laboratory School: A report on a model for preservice music teacher field experiences. Research Studies in Music Education, 12(1), 1–9. doi:  10.1177/1321103X9901200101

Communities of practice have been found to be very effective contexts for mentoring preservice and early career music teachers. It is clear that these communities can manifest in a number of ways, from online and face-to-face meetings, to practicum experiences wherein student-teachers and mentors teach alongside each other. The research above demonstrates how the development of teaching practices and identities are benefitted by the sharing of resources, stories and solutions in a democratic environment; findings that are illustrated in regular conversations between educators on twitter.

We hope you’ve found this RSME research roundup helpful in your research or practice. We’d love the roundup to be as interactive as possible, and encourage all readers to add to this very brief literature review. If you’ve written (or know about) an article/book chapter/blog entry about communities of practice for preservice and early career music educators, add references and links in the comments below or tweet a reply to @RSMEjournal. If you are currently in the middle of writing such an article, consider submitting it to the internationally peer-reviewed journal, Research Studies in Music Education.

References

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Advertisements

Theory and notation in music education

Welcome to RSME’s research roundup! Here we assemble literature from our own journal, as well as other publications, that address online conversations about music education and related topics. Our third roundup, inspired by an ongoing discussion on a Teaching Music UK forum, brings together research related to the questions posed by @teachtalkmusic:

What do we understand by ‘musical understanding?’ What role does (western classical) ‘theory’ and notation have?

How do we make decisions about the use of theories and notations in our classrooms? What benefits are we looking for? What pitfalls do we seek to avoid?

What models of practice and thinkers about music teaching might we use to help us answer these questions?

We hope the following literature will help contextualise the online conversation.

Various issues have been raised in the discussion so far, including the ambiguity of the key terms and a call for the assumed connection between theory and notation to be questioned. The relationship between practical music experiences and music theory has also been explored. In agreement with McPherson (2005), Baker and Green (2013) propose that the traditional focus on (classical Western) notation in instrumental lessons must be balanced with ear playing, alongside other learning strategies (e.g. improvising, composing, sight reading), for optimum skill acquisition. Bannan (2014) enters the debate between notation-based practitioners and their critics from an evolutionary standpoint, considering the role of music in human societies throughout history. While he agrees that notation is not necessary for musical creativity, he suggests that students should be entitled to develop literacy if ever they reach a point when notation would be useful to their educational pursuits;

not, in the short term as a mere imposition of authority, requiring the supplying of right answers to examination questions based on testing its understanding; but lifelong, as a means of retaining self-sufficiency, independence, and the heightened capacity to transmit to the next generation of the informed culture-bearer. (p. 113)

The use of notation as a practice of self-sufficiency is demonstrated by Dunbar-Hall (2006), who describes the learning strategy adopted by four musically literate, adult students in a cross-cultural setting. Of their own volition the students invented notation as an aid to learning repertoire, only notating sections of the piece they struggled with to solve specific problems. The contrast between the students’ notation methods, and how they interpreted each others’ representations, illustrates the link between invented notation and sound conceptualisation. Barrett (1997, 2001) and Davis (2010) consider how invented notations and metaphorical processes can be used to gain insight into how students make meaning of their musical experiences.

The role and relevance of classical Western music has also been discussed on the Teaching Music UK forum. McPhail (2013) espouses that knowledge about music and music as knowledge are not exclusively developed along the lines of particular music traditions, despite the historical and practical association between, for example, classical music and formal theoretical knowledge. A combination of formal and informal pedagogies is often used in classrooms regardless of the musical style being taught, and students are most engaged when given the opportunity to develop different types of musical knowledge concurrently. On the other hand, Hannan (2006) found that contemporary popular music undergraduates differed in their opinions of what musicianship skills were necessary for their future careers, dependent upon whether they were performance, composition or production students. While performance students valued traditional aural and sight reading skills, they were considered less significant for composition students and even less relevant for production students. Tobias (2013) suggests that the digital notation utilised in popular music songwriting broadens the ways in which notation is utilised throughout the composition process. Indeed, the visual representation of digital notation, inherent in most recording, engineering, mixing and producing processes, is often relied upon in making creative decisions. Exploring other types of digital notation, Webb (2010) outlines how notational cross-modal listening clips, prevalent on video sharing sites such as YouTube, intrinsically highlight the temporal experience of performed music. Examining their usefulness in classrooms, Webb provides a theoretical and analytical framework for using cross-modal listening clips as educational resources.

If any of the following article titles interests you, click on the reference to be taken to the abstract.

Baker, D., & Green, L. (2013). Ear playing and aural development in the instrumental lesson: Results from a “case control” experiment. Research Studies in Music Education35(2), 141–159. doi: 10.1177/1321103X13508254

Bannan, N. (2014). Music, play and Darwin’s children: Pedagogical reflections of and on the ontogeny/phylogeny relationship. International Journal of Music Education32(1), 98–118. doi: 10.1177/0255761413491173

Barrett, M. (1997). Invented notations: A view of young children’s musical thinking. Research Studies in Music Education8(1), 2–14. doi: 10.1177/1321103X9700800102

Barrett, M. S. (2001). Constructing a view of children’s meaning-making as notators: A case-study of a five-year-old’s descriptions and explanations of invented notations. Research Studies in Music Education16(1), 33–45. doi: 10.1177/1321103X010160010401

Davis, S. G. (2010). Metaphorical process and the birth of meaningful musical rationality in beginning instrumentalists. Research Studies in Music Education32(1), 3–21. doi: 10.1177/1321103X10373055

Dunbar-Hall, P. (2006). An investigation of strategies developed by music learners in a cross-cultural setting. Research Studies in Music Education26(1), 63–70. doi: 10.1177/1321103X060260010201

Hannan, M. (2006). Contemporary music student expectations of musicianship training needs. International Journal of Music Education24(2), 148–158. doi: 10.1177/0255761406065476

McPhail, G. (2013). The canon or the kids: Teachers and the recontextualisation of classical and popular music in the secondary school curriculum. Research Studies in Music Education35(1), 7–20. doi: 10.1177/1321103X13483083

McPherson, G. E. (2005). From child to musician: Skill development during the beginning stages of learning an instrument. Psychology of Music33(1), 5–35. doi: 10.1177/0305735605048012

Tobias, E. S. (2013). Composing, songwriting, and producing: Informing popular music pedagogy. Research Studies in Music Education35(2), 213–237. doi: 10.1177/1321103X13487466

Webb, M. (2010). Re viewing listening: ‘Clip culture’ and cross-modal learning in the music classroom. International Journal of Music Education28(4), 313–340. doi: 10.1177/0255761410381821

It is clear that there are many issues involved in considering the relevance of theory and notation to contemporary music education. Like all methods, utilising any particular theoretical framework or type of notation depends on the learner and the content, goal and context of the educational experience. In particular, the research above demonstrates various situations in which traditional Western notation, invented notation and digital notation relate to the conceptualisation, theory and practice of music.

We hope you’ve found this RSME research roundup helpful in your research or practice. We’d love the roundup to be as interactive as possible, and encourage all readers to add to this very brief literature review. If you’ve written (or know about) an article/book chapter/blog entry about theory and notation in music education, add references and links in the comments below or tweet a reply to @RSMEjournal. If you are currently in the middle of writing such an article, consider submitting it to the internationally peer-reviewed journal, Research Studies in Music Education.

Academic rigour in music education

Welcome to RSME’s research roundup! Here we assemble literature from our own journal, as well as other publications, that address online conversations about music education and related topics. Our second roundup, inspired by Musical Futures’ recent #mufuchat, brings together research related to the question posed by @musicalfutures: Is music a ‘rigorous’ subject? We hope the following literature will help contextualise the online conversation.

The literature below addresses issues raised during the #mufuchat session, including the rigour involved in the teaching and assessment of music. Arostegui (2003) draws attention to the difficulty of evaluating music learning, claiming that, “Testing for musical knowledge is a gross estimate of the degree to which the student has grasped the particular knowledge that the teacher or testing authority specifies as the domain. The domain itself is arbitrary. What is asked about this domain often is superficial and depersonalized. . . . The test deliberately avoids much of what each person has learned interpretively” (p. 113). In particular the perception of music as a ‘soft’ subject was raised in several tweets. The significance of parents’ perceptions of music as a school subject is an issue that Seog, Hendricks and González-Moreno (2011) examine in relation to the South Korean educational system. In this study parents were found to clearly delineate between what are considered academic subjects and non-tested subjects such as music, art and P.E. Because of the overall emphasis on examinations in the South Korean school system, music is taken less seriously as a subject.

Some of the other studies explore formal education systems that consider music worthy of rigorous pursuit to the extent that the accessibility of the subject is weakened. Lorenzino (2011) describes the state-sponsored music education system in Cuban schools, exploring how the specialist stream music education is “rigorous in its technical requirements and comprehensive in its offerings at all levels” (p. 207), including music literacy. However this level of rigour is only available to students capable of passing difficult entrance examinations and music is otherwise not compulsory at all grade levels. This resonates with Montemayor’s study (2008), which suggests that the hierarchical and selective nature of a very successful instrumental studio must be exercised, “in due caution in public-school music programs, whose mandate it is to afford music opportunities to the widest possible base of student clientele” (p. 297). Portowitz (2010) demonstrates how high school music is considered a serious subject in Israel, taught only by expert teachers. However, while “professional-level lessons may be excellent for more advanced music students . . . the Israeli system currently does not serve other individuals who might have interest in musical participation at a more basic level” (p. 181).

In the context of many Western school systems, the (false) dichotomy between expert vs general or technical vs amateur often manifests in a discussion about teaching according to Western classical traditions. Of course, the inclusion of popular repertoire and informal learning strategies is very relevant to any discussion about Musical Futures. McPhail (2013) advocates that there is a place for both “theoretical and historical cultural knowledge [about music]” (p. 14) and “knowledge acquired through ad hoc experience” (p. 13). Here, he indirectly explores how formal and traditional concepts of rigour as associated with the Western classical tradition are relevant to the 21st century music classroom and students’ popular music experiences.  At the same time, Campbell (1995) describes “the acquisition of a song by the [garage band] ensemble” as “often a rigorous process” (p. 18), making a case for informal learning processes to be considered rigorous within themselves. Misconceptions about the value of informal learning processes are explored in Pignato (2013), which describes the very personal story of a New York teacher whose free improvisation classes were not considered rigorous enough by colleagues: “Some expressed trepidation that students were simply ‘playing’ rather than learning” (p. 31). As a result of her unconventional curricula, the teacher experienced professional isolation that eventually led to her leaving institutionalised schooling.

Issues of curriculum design and generalist educators teaching music are pertinent to discussions about the rigour of school music. In outlining the introduction of National Curriculum in English primary schools, Stunell (2006) identifies a distinction between politicians’ and non-musicians’ perception “that to be musical is to be able to play an instrument or sing well” (p. 14) and the effect this has on curriculum discussion. Andrews (2004) considers what constitutes curricular expertise as required by primary and secondary educators to effectively teach the arts in their classrooms. He claims, “the term is relative; that is, one can have knowledge yet not be an expert” (p. 87).

If any of the following article titles interests you, click on the reference to be taken to the abstract.

Andrews, B. W. (2004). Curriculum renewal through policy development in arts education. Research Studies in Music Education, 23(1), 76–93. doi: 10.1177/1321103X040230011001

Arostegui, J. L. (2003). On the nature of knowledge: What we want and what we get with measurement in music education. International Journal of Music Education, 40(1), 100–115. doi:  10.1177/025576140304000108

Campbell, P. S. (1995). Of garage band and song-getting: The musical development of young rock musicians. Research Studies in Music Education, 4(1), 12–20. doi: 10.1177/1321103X9500400103

Lorenzino, L. (2011). Music education in Cuban schools. Research Studies in Music Education, 33(1), 197–210. doi: 10.1177/1321103X11421724

McPhail, G. (2013). The canon or the kids: Teachers and the recontextualisation of classical and popular music in the secondary school curriculum. Research Studies in Music Education, 35(1), 7–20. doi: 10.1177/1321103X13483083

Montemayor, M. (2008). Flauto: An ethnographic study of a highly successful private studio. International Journal of Music Education, 26(4), 286–301. doi: 10.1177/0255761408096071

Pignato, J. (2013). Angelica gets the spirit out: Improvisation, epiphany and transformation. Research Studies in Music Education, 35(1), 21–38. doi: 10.1177/1321103X13486569

Portowitz, A., González-Moreno, P. A., Hendricks, K. S. (2010). Students’ motivation to study music: Israel. Research Studies in Music Education, 32(2), 169–184. doi: 10.1177/1321103X10385049

Seog, M., Hendricks, K. S., & González-Moreno, P. A. (2011). Students’ motivation to study music: The South Korean context. Research Studies in Music Education, 33(1), 89–104. doi: doi: 10.1177/1321103X11400514

Stunell, G. (2006). The policy context of music in English primary schools: How politics didn’t help music. Research Studies in Music Education, 26(2), 2–21. doi: 10.1177/1321103X060260010401

In making a case for the value of music education it is clear that the perception of school music is highly significant. In addition to the opinions and anecdotal evidence presented during #mufuchat and on the blogsophere, the research above demonstrates how the ‘rigour’ of studying music seems to be tied in with issues of assessment, accessibility, teaching methods, political agendas and deeply imbedded perceptions of what constitutes appropriate music education in formal school contexts.

We hope you’ve found this RSME research roundup helpful in your research or practice. We’d love the roundup to be as interactive as possible, and encourage all readers to add to this very brief literature review. If you’ve written (or know about) an article/book chapter/blog entry about academic rigour in music education, add references and links in the comments below or tweet a reply to @RSMEjournal. If you are currently in the middle of writing such an article, consider submitting it to the internationally peer-reviewed journal, Research Studies in Music Education.

Music education and global citizenship

Welcome to RSME’s first research roundup! Here we assemble literature from our own journal, as well as various other publications, that address online conversations about music education and related topics. Our first roundup, inspired by UNESCO’s recent tweet (below), brings together research that demonstrates how music education might be, and is, used to teach and facilitate civic skills and values.

In particular, the following literature addresses UNESCO’s call for active citizenship in schools, encouraging the development of “skills for participating more fully in society” through activities such as “participating in school and community organisations”. This can be done in any number of educational contexts, from community music sites to specialist schools  for newly arrived migrants and home schooling communities. Online music communities, such as that explored in Kenny (2013), offer opportunities to develop global citizenship through global music participation. Conversely, local and global citizenship can be fostered through participation in diasporic music-making, such as that described in Marsh (2012) and Johnson (2012).

If any of the following article titles interests you, click on the reference to be taken to the abstract or, wherever possible, the full text (indicated by three red stars ***).

Banks, J. A. (2008). Diversity, group identity, and citizenship education in a global age. Educational Researcher37(3), 129–139. doi: 10.3102/0013189X0831750

Ilari, B. (2013). Concerted cultivation and musical learning: Global issues and local variations. Research Studies in Music Education35(2), 179–196. doi: 10.1177/1321103X13509348

Johnson, H. (2012). Drumming in the transcultural imagination: Taiko, Japan and community music making in Aotearoa/New Zealand. International Journal of Community Music5(1), 11–26.

Jones, P. M. (2010). Developing social capital: a role for music education and community music in fostering civic engagement and intercultural understanding. International Journal of Community Music3(2), 291–302.

Karlsen, S. (2013). Immigrant students and the “homeland music”: Meanings, negotiations and implications. Research Studies in Music Education35(2), 161–177. doi:10.1177/1321103X13508057

Kenny, A. (2013). “The Next Level”: Investigating teaching and learning within an Irish traditional music online community. Research Studies in Music Education35(2), 239–253. doi:10.1177/1321103X13508349

Langston, T. W., & Barrett, M. S. (2008). Capitalizing on community music: a case study of the manifestation of social capital in a community choir. Research Studies in Music Education30(2), 118–138. doi: 10.1177/1321103X08097503 

*** Linklater, H., & Forbes, L. (2012). Cross-cultural collaboration as community growth and integration: Children’s music projects in Bosnia–Herzegovina and Scotland. Approaches: Music Therapy and Special Music Education4(2), 101–109.

Marsh, K. (2012). “The beat will make you be courage”: The role of a secondary school music program in supporting young refugees and newly arrived immigrants in Australia. Research Studies in Music Education34(2), 93–111. doi:10.1177/1321103X12466138

Silverman, M. (2009). Sites of social justice: community music in New York City. Research Studies in Music Education31(1), 178–192. doi: 10.1177/1321103X09344384

Silverman, M. (2011). Music and homeschooled youth: A case study. Research Studies in Music Education, 33(2), 179–195. doi:10.1177/1321103X11422004

UNESCO’s module advocates that citizenship education can be integrated across the curriculum in various subjects. The research above illustrates how global citizenship can be, and is, fostered through formal and informal music education practices worldwide.

We hope you’ve found RSME’s inaugural research roundup helpful in your research or practice. We’d love the roundup to be as interactive as possible, and encourage all readers to add to this very brief literature review. If you’ve written (or know about) an article/book chapter/blog entry about music education and global citizenship, add references and links in the comments below or tweet a reply to @RSMEjournal. If you are currently in the middle of writing such an article, consider submitting it to the internationally peer-reviewed journal, Research Studies in Music Education.