Towards Convergence: Adapting Music Education to Contemporary Society and Participatory Culture (Sunday Nov. 10 2019)
What is the music educator’s role when students engage with participatory culture?
It is the music educator’s responsibility that the student activities are regulated fairly, so no matter what a student may choose to do with participatory culture they are all marked fairly. It is hard to generalize a project that is as broad as this, eg. remixing is very different from doing a cover. It is also important that all students have something they can participate in so everyone’s abilities are accommodated for. Because the convergence enhances the value of creativity and self-directed learning, the class may be easier for some and more difficult to some. Since technology is not always accessible to everyone, those who have done remixes or used music technology programs have more experience than those who don’t own technology or have access to it. It is the teacher’s responsibility to make sure that students can use the resources that are prescribed.
How might ensembles and music classrooms be modified or restructured to allow for new and emerging contemporary musical practices?
Because technology is used so much in participatory culture, it may be beneficial for schools to have some music making equipment, or at least some kind of device that can download music software. Ensembles playing in the class will be restructured, as there will be different instruments (more rock band essentials such as drums, guitars, keyboards as opposed to more classical ones) and the number of members may differ depending on the needs of the song chosen. Because the repertoire is selected by the students, there may be a lot of variety in terms of what ensembles may look like, all of them vastly different than the typical style band class. New extra-curricular ensembles may be created and old ones may be replaced. The classroom will not involve as much formal teaching, as the activities involved are merely independent and self-directed. This means that the teacher will have a less demanding role and will only have to offer suggestions rather than to explain.
Tobias, E. S. (2013). Toward Convergence Adapting Music Education to Contemporary Society and Participatory Culture. Music Educators Journal, 99 (4), 29-36.
Isolation in Music Studio Teaching: The secret garden (Sunday Oct. 27 2019)
The metaphor of the private studio being a “secret garden” in the article makes sense, as the students use the studio as a private place to grow and develop skills. Yet the article also talks about how there are benefits as well as challenges involved with studio teaching. I agree with most of the benefits and challenges of studio teaching described in the article, as I have experienced some of these challenges and benefits first-hand. I agree with the article when it compares studio teaching to an apprenticeship, as the style and knowledge of the teacher is passed down to the student. I find that the way my teachers tend to do things turn into the way I tend to do things. I also agree with the article when it says that this can be restricting in the sense that the student only learns what the teacher has learned, and also the student may be restricted in terms of their mindset because they think the things their teacher tells them is the only way to do things. When I came to Western, I found some of the things my studio teacher tells me contradicts some of the things I learned from my old teacher. By having more than one perspective or view on singing, I find I can develop my own view by taking into consideration what makes the most sense to me out of all the things any of my teachers have said, instead of just going off of one view. By only having the studio teacher’s teaching to go off of, the student may not realize that they are able to develop their own individual ideas and artistic style. I believe that it is important as a musician to develop an individual interpretation to music, to work on putting one’s own personal style into a song on top of or instead of just doing what their teacher says. A way to get out of the restricted mind-set that the private studio provides would be to attend masterclasses or maybe have lessons with other teachers in order to get a more well-rounded learning. Having many views on technique or performance can guarantee the best feedback which can help the singer in areas that their own private teacher has not touched.
I agree when the article describes the relationship between the student and the studio teacher as being closer than lecturers or other teachers. This is because of the amount of time they spend together, but also because of the care necessary for studio teachers to have for their students. I can relate to this because I have grown very close to all of my private teachers. In fact, I have very close relationships to all of my music teachers whether they are my private teachers or not. This is because teaching music requires teaching each individual separately. This means there is almost always one on one time, as the teacher must monitor each student’s learning process. One on one learning is almost necessary when it comes to teaching music, it is not easily taught formally.
Burwell, K., Carey, G., & Bennett, D. (2019). Isolation in studio music teaching: The secret garden. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 18(4), 372-394. doi:10.1177/1474022217736581
Torin's presentation on tips for being a good studio teacher brought up some interesting methods and ideas, which made me think about some of the teachers I have had previously. He talked about how teachers should have a balance of "carrot and stick" referring to having a balance of leading them towards doing something a certain way as opposed to pushing them towards it. In the past I have had teachers who pushed quite a bit, saying things like "do this, do this" instead of "try this, go for this, what would it sound like if you did this?". I find the "pushing" makes me stressed out and not as motivated to learn, while the encouraging and leading method makes me feel more comfortable. Of course it is different for every student what motivates them better, so as a teacher it is important to learn the student's learning style.
Torin also mentioned how it is also the teacher's job to keep a log of what they have done with a student in order to plan lessons accordingly. I had a teacher who almost always asked me what we did last week, and went into the lesson not having a clue what we were going to do. I agree that as a teacher it is important to take charge and properly plan a student's learning process instead of deciding in the moment.
Popular Music and Modern Band Principles Reflection (Sunday Oct. 6 2019)
This article talked about the way pop music classes should be held in school if they are at all. Some things made sense to me, but other things seemed too farfetched to be believable or achievable in a school setting. Personally I do not think pop music class is "less practical" than regular band class, in fact I think it is more practical. I agree with the idea of learning music is similar to learning a second language in the sense that imitation of music plays a factor in one's understanding of it, however this does not mean that the learning should be self-directed entirely.
A point I agree with is that in order to prevent MPA, or Music Performance Anxiety, teachers must create a positive environment that promotes positive self-belief and encouragement. This goes against what the "Good Job" article said about praise in a classroom. However, praise allows children to develop confidence which will allow them to be comfortable in any situation that may involve pressure in pop class e.g a solo. By refraining from praise, individuals could potentially get confused as to whether they are doing something right or if they are good enough. Depending on the age of the students, peer comparison could be a big confidence factor, and lack of praise may increase the effects of this even more.
I do believe large group settings are good for boosting confidence. That being said, pop class may involve a lot of solo opportunity and parts may often be individual. This is the opposite in band or choir class, which is why i believe they are beneficial to kids learning as well as the formal learning component.
Powell, B. & Burstein, S. (2017). Popular Music and Modern Band Principles. Routledge Research Companion to Popular Music Education (2017).
Ukelele Workshop Reflection (Sunday Sept. 29 2019)
This workshop helped me to realize the importance of hands-on learning especially in music teaching in order to apply musical aspects and therefore understand them better. We also talked about how to apply the skills that were learned in order for them to be graded, and talked about the question: how could they show what they learned? The aspects of lesson planning is important for students to learn the most effectively and efficiently. In doing so, it is important to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the group. When we were being taught ukelele, everyone seemed to pick up the skills right away even though the lesson was going quite fast. Because most of us were music teachers or music students, the concept of chords and playing instruments was very familiar to us. However, for planning to teach something like this to younger kids or people who are not experienced in music, the lesson time planned should be a bit more in order to accommodate for the skills of everyone.
In the workshop we were told the tips and the procedure for how to write a song and then wrote one ourselves in the span of an hour. I found it cool how easily we were able to write a song considering the little experience we had, as we were able to apply our various musical knowledge to the task and the outcome was more successful than anticipated. It also was easy to do it because we had a procedure to follow, instead of being tested on skills we had not learned. Being able to apply a procedure to the hands on component was likely what made the task almost easy. For teaching students, especially younger ones, learning and applying the musical skills would be an efficient way to learn how to play any instrument, the only difference being that it may take a bit longer.
By using informal instruction or tasks to teach and grade students on music, students are given the opportunity to use their creativity in a comfortable procedural setting. Not only are formal learning techniques being provided, the students have a part to play in their learning and grading by participating. This method of teaching is well-rounded in the sense that it provides musical knowledge (formal learning) and self-directed opportunity (informal learning). This workshop has given me good insight as to what is effective in teaching music in schools. I hope someday to be able to apply teaching something like ukelele to a class!
Definitions of Formal, Informal and Non-formal Learning(Tuesday Oct. 1 2019):
Formal: formal learning involves instruction that occurs in a planned and structured way in a school or other educational setting. The content being taught is not altered to accommodate the needs and abilities of the students, it is fixated and systematically explained. An example of this would be private piano lessons. In my teaching, I hope to include formal learning by teaching basic musical knowledge and skills the typical school style (e.g notes or PowerPoints each lesson on a new topic). This style of teaching will hopefully be followed up by a chance for students to apply that knowledge, e.g practice.
Informal: Informal learning has similar circumstances to formal learning, except the learning is unintended (incidental) or self-directed. The learner may not be aware of the learning while it is happening either. An example of this would be listening to music. I hope to include informal learning sessions each class in order for students to try to apply the skills they have acquired themselves with the skills they already possess. Examples of this would be asking the write their own song, or practicing songs on their own to build independent playing.
Non-formal: Non-formal learning occurs in an educational setting, but in a context that relates to professional circumstances. The content taught can accommodate for the students/learners. An example of this would be attending a band rehearsal. I will include non-formal learning with teacher directed activities that may include learning an instrument, particular chords or songs, etc.
Veblen, K. K. (2018). Adult music learning in formal, nonformal and informal contexts. In G. Mcpherson & G. Welsh (Eds.). Special Needs, Community Music, and Adult Learning: An Oxford Handbook of Music Education, Vol 4. Pp. 243-256. London: Oxford University Press.
A Review of Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education.
By Taylor Burns
The article assigned this week discussed the idea of not teaching the elements of music to children and adolescents in school, to allow them the opportunity for creative expression and thinking when talking about music that is not restricted by a factual mindset.
I think this idea is a good way to allow kids to explore and share the effect that music has in their lives, and by doing so discover the importance of music to themselves and let others learn the effect certain music has on their peers. By analyzing what they like about a certain song and how the song makes them feel, they are identifying what in the song makes them happy to themselves as well as to others. This allows the individual to reflect on their interests and allows peers to understand and appreciate why people like the kind of music that they do.
A downside to this approach to teaching is that kids who have a specific interest in learning music will not be able to know the theory behind it. The approach to teaching does allow students to direct their learning when describing music, but in the end they have no knowledge of what is actually happening in the music. The goal for this teaching style is that music is not seen as something students need to study, which will make it appeal to them more. However, those who are interest in the study of music will only be taught that the knowledge they come up with in the class. Since they are self-directing one another in their learning experience, they are not given the opportunity to learn about why a piece sounds more sad than the other, etc. This can be compared to teaching students the multiplication table without explaining to them how the combined numbers make the product. One may ask a child what’s two times two and the child may say four, but if you ask how they figured that out they just say “because that’s what it is”. Similarly, if you asked an adolescent who likes a sad song why the song sounds sad, they might reply with the same answer “because that’s what it is”. Although the strategy allows kids and adolescents to think for themselves to figure out what they are hearing, which allows for cognitive development, they have no opportunity to apply their knowledge to an exercise. There is good opportunity for creativity and communication, but no place to apply the basics.
To the authors and to the education system that they are writing about, I would suggest that learning the basic elements is still crucial to the understanding of music, and by using student-directed learning, actual musical knowledge is not being taught. Talking about what you hear provides a creativity opportunity, but nothing is learned from it except one’s own individual understanding of the meaning of music to them. As mentioned before, there is no “why” the music sounds like this explained. Providing knowledge of the basic elements allows the students to look for something in the music. Also, by explaining why the students like a certain element in the piece, they are still expressing creativity with their response but it includes identifying as well as thinking.
Rose, L.S., & Countryman, J. (2013). Repositioning ‘the elements”: How students talk about music. Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education 12(3): 45-64.