Music Teachers Perspectives on Music Education in the US

I am excited to share my latest collaboration with Julie Bannerman. In this study we examined the factors that are impacting music teachers across the country, as well as the ways they are acting to positively impact their programs and positions. Although prior research has found that state and national policies have had negatives effects on music programs in schools, which possibly explains decreases in offerings, participation and instructional time, this study found that almost 50% of teachers felt that these policies had no effect on their programs. Some (28%) thought they had a positive effect.  Factors at the school level, such as scheduling and instructional contact time, were thought to have the greatest negative impact on their programs. Many music teachers reported being given extra duties, outside of their subject area, and less planning time than their non-arts counterparts. The impact of these factors has implications on music teachers’ ability to plan meaningful lessons and to effectively teach children. The stakes are higher than ever for music teachers, whose evaluations are or may soon be linked to student performance on district or state music assessments.

Check out the full study http://jrm.sagepub.com/content/62/4/344.abstract Screen shot 2014-03-05 at 10.06.20 AM

Leaders (and Community Members) Taking a Stand

It is so good to know that there are leaders in positions of great power who stand up for the right thing for our students, teachers, and schools. The superintendent of the Miami-Dade Schools (4th largest district in US), Alberto Carvalho, has recently taken a stand against the damaging effect of over-testing in our schools. I hope other leaders will push back as well and end this era of high stakes testing that has eaten away at time for quality teaching and learning in a diverse array of subjects, including music, art, physical education, social studies, etc.

Check out the article in the Sunday NY Times: http://nyti.ms/1wJ8g8z

High School Music Enrollment

Thought I’d share this article on high school music participation that Cathy Benedict brought to Ken Elpus’ and my attention. The numbers of students participating in high school music programs in the US is higher than many lead us to believe. Of course, there is always the question of quality.

http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/number-high-school-students-enrolled-music-programs-3990.html

Almost half of all high school students enroll in music programs.

Disseminating our Work

Screen shot 2014-04-13 at 5.48.38 PMI had the privilege of presenting a session with two PhD students and four PhD candidates from the University of Miami Frost School of Music (Sarah Bowman, Andrew Dahan, Craig Denison, Susana Lalama, Stanley Haskins, Sandra Sanchez) at the recent conference of the National Association for Music Education in St Louis. I thought I would add this post for those who are interested in doctoral education/curriculum and might be interested in knowing more about what we presented. Here is a sample:

Those who of us who work or will work as music teacher educators in doctoral degree-granting institutions are centrally concerned with preparing the next generation of music teacher educators and scholars. In reflecting on or preparing for the creation of the doctoral curriculum, we might ask some essential questions:

  1. What is it that we want students to know, understand, and be able to do?
  2. What is essential to the formation of a scholar and his/her future success in the field?

Many will probably agree that doctoral programs in music education are designed, in part, to enable students to ask important and meaningful questions, synthesize prior research and scholarship in music education and related fields, design and conduct research independently, examine and address perplexing pedagogical questions, and effectively share the results of their work with others.

Accomplishing these goals could be facilitated by the application of “signature pedagogies,” a term coined and described by Lee Shulman (2005) as characteristic forms of teaching and learning that prepare future professionals for developing specific habits within a given discipline. Shulman suggests pedagogy should closely align with the professional roles that a given program is designed to prepare students to fill. Understanding is necessary but not sufficient. A person should also be prepared to act, to perform, and practice.

What does that mean for music education professors? It means acting, performing and practicing as teachers, advisers, and researchers, serving the needs of our students, our universities, as well as our local and broader communities. We do that, in part, by disseminating our work through publications and presentations, yet many aspects of these processes are unclear and challenging to those beginning their career in academia. This, in part, led to the design of a one-credit doctoral seminar on disseminating scholarship in music education.

The topic of disseminating scholarship was one of many ideas I bounced around for doctoral students to choose from for a one-hour special topics seminar. The majority were interested in the topic for most it was because they realized it was so critical to their role as future professors, for others it seemed to be because of the mysteries of getting work published (i.e., peer review), and for a few it was to learn more about ways to be more disciplined writers.

The seminar was designed around the various ways that music education academics might disseminate their work (both traditional and emergent) and framed around written and spoken forms. The course also offered students opportunities to review books on subtopics of their interest, find related readings, lead class discussions, formally present on selected topics, and write proposals for specific venues.Screen shot 2014-04-13 at 6.02.13 PM

The purpose of our session was to share our experiences in this graduate seminar and consider how it shaped our thinking and helped to develop specific habits of the hand and mind.

If you’d like to learn more about the seminar and the resources we used, go to our seminar PREZI by following this link: http://prezi.com/3krm6wikbiox/making-a-contribution-to-the-field/#

Link

What Do Videos Games Have to do with Music Education?

Dr. Ann Clements was a recent guest of the Music Education Department at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. Among other outstanding presentations over two days, she gave one particularly thought-provoking talk on what music education can learn from video games, which was featured in the Miami Hurricane (the University of Miami student newspaper). Here is an excerpt of that article. The full article can be accessed by clicking the link on the title of this entry or the URL below.

The Miami Hurricane

Carlos Abril, director of undergraduate music education, is [co-editing] a book on innovative approaches to teaching music…He invited Penn State professor Ann Clements to the University of Miami’s Music Education Forum to talk to students about how “technology and gaming can inform music education practice.”

“Learning is a joy and a pleasure, and only in schools is it repressed,” said Clements, who is writing a chapter in the book.  “Schools are just providing the game manuals and not the games themselves.”

The main point of her talk was how incorporating the idea behind video games into classrooms, of all grades and ages, would motivate students to learn.  She also said video games would motivate students’ passion to learn. Clements believes that students will respond to failure in a more positive and constructive way if the failure is creative and fair.  If so, the students will have more interest and motivation to overcome the failure and become successful, which is the goal in most video games. If schools collaborate using creative and sophisticated methods, they will see the average number of students retaining information increase dramatically.

IMG_2322http://www.themiamihurricane.com/2014/02/11/frost-school-lecture-explores-relationship-between-music-education-video-games/

Mapping, Collaborating, and Connecting through PREZI

Many of you may know Prezi (www.prezi.com) as an online presentation tool that frees you from the linearity of Powerpoint, but did you know that it makes for a great mind mapping tool as well? In the last three years I have primarily used it that way in my classes, during brainstorming sessions, in meetings, and for project planning and management. I thought I would share a few of the ways I have been using Prezi for instructional purposes along with some recent Prezis.  (As my students know, I usually can’t contain my excitement about all it can do, so simply)

MAPPING. I recently used Prezi on the first day of the Smithsonian Folkways World Music Pedagogy course at the University of Miami as a way to introduce participants to the musics of the world we would be studying throughout the school year. Initially it served as a way to provide an overview of the course. As I videotaped the grScreen shot 2013-10-05 at 10.22.05 AMoup learning songs, dances, games, and music, I realized Prezi could also serve as a repository for these videos. I have since given participants in the program access to the Prezi so they can recall the songs, note how the songs performed differ from the notated versions, or link to the Smithsonian music collection. As the course evolves, I imagine it will include many other things as well. At the end of the six sessions, spread over a school year, we will have documented the many musical cultures studied, the curricular frameworks discussed, and the projects created. This is a work in progress. You might want to check back to see how it has changed in six months. http://prezi.com/m3fwwlulays8/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share

COLLABORATING. In the past I used to bring in large posters and markers into class when I wanted my classes to break up into small groups to brainstorm or work on an in-class project. Class members would usually assemble into groups around the classroom to work on their posters (if you were my student at some point, you probably remember doing that). Screen shot 2013-10-05 at 10.24.36 AMNow I use Prezi as a way for students to work collaboratively, documenting their thinking and ideas. For instance, in my History and Philosophy of Music Education course this semester, I had students (all of whom I granted editing access to our class Prezi) synthesize some of the key ideas of formalism, utilitarianism, praxialism, contextualism on Prezi.   We could see our individual avatars moving through the Prezi, adding images, text, and videos in real time.

CONNECTING. I’ve been using Prezi in my general music methods courses for three years now. Each semester, I start with a blank Prezi; each class period is an opportunity for us to build and extend it. In so doing, we map what we are learning from the readings,  experiences in the field, and in-class discussions. We also use it as a way to make inter- and intra-unit connections. Many of the videos I ask students to watch are found on the Prezi, as well as videos and books we recommend one another because of their relevance to the course content. You can also see students’ illustrations, representing their visions of the elementary music classroom (they are actually kind of fun, revealing, and funny all rolled into one). Like the prior Prezi, this has no animation and is a work in progress.  http://prezi.com/ha90xjhh-7wg/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

I hope this blog entry gives you some ideas for how you might use Prezi or some other mind mapping tool in your own teaching. I’d love to hear how some of you are using it in your own work.

Smithsonian Folkways at the University of Miami

I am excited to report that the University of Miami and Smithsonian Folkways will be co-sponsoring a World Music Pedagogy Certification Course at the Frost School of Music during the 2013-2014 school year. Presenters from around the country, with diverse specializatFROST SCHOOL LOGOions in world music cultures, will bring their experience, musicality, and expertise to music teachers and community music leaders in the South Florida region.  The aim of the course is to provide opportunities in learning about world music cultures, with a special emphasis on those found in our rich cultural backyard. Specialists in Afro-Cuban children’s songs and folk music, Puerto Rican drumming styles, Eastern European song, Argentinean folk music, Uruguayan candombe, Maori song and movement, Brazilian folk dance, and more will be invited to work with participants. World music pedagogues, Patrician Shehan Campbell and Ann Clements, as well as world music song leadeSmithsonianr and composer/arranger, Nick Page, are a few of the distinguished guests who comprise the faculty roster.  Follow the link for more information about the Smithsonian Folkways World Music Pedagogy course at the University of Miami:   http://miamiworldmusiccert.wordpress.com/