This article explores children's reflections on the value of their participation in In Harmony, a social and music education programme whose approach and philosophy derives from the Venezuelan El Sistema' (The System') model. More specifically, through an analysis of participating children's accounts (n=111) and an exploration of the key patterns evident within children's attribution of value to their In Harmony participation, the article highlights a series of ways in which the initiative's approach to music and musical learning threaten to undermine its core aims.
Research on teachers' assessments of students' playing within music lessons has mainly focused on verbal (spoken) evaluations of their learning. However, closer exploration of these interactions shows that embodied assessments, that is, those that also include non-verbal, multi-modal features as part of the interaction, are found to be particularly relevant when making assessments in performing domains such as music. The study's aim was to examine the different types of assessments made by teachers of their students' playing, how they were responded to by the student, and the function they served in opening up the learning dialogue. 18 video recordings from one-to-one conservatoire music lessons were analysed and two types of assessments were identified: (1) Explicit, definite assessments that provided a clear statement of the students' playing (e.g., 'excellent', 'very good') that resulted in closing down the learning dialogue; and (2) Performative, instructive assessments that were more complex evaluations of the students' playing (e.g., 'that's closer', 'it's too top heavy') that necessitated further work, thus leading to a more detailed pedagogic interaction. Findings highlight the importance of looking at embodied assessments as essential components to the learning dialogue in music, as well as discussing the implications that the different types of assessments have for opening up and closing learning interaction.
Curriculum is currently a big issue in England. What a school-based music curriculum should entail, what sorts of things should be taught and learned, and what makes for good learning experiences are all under consideration. One of the issues that crops up in England, and possibly in other jurisdictions too, when these sorts of discussions take place, involves considerations of what sorts of music children and young people should be involved with, what should they learn, and what is important for schools to be teaching. This immediately places discussions beyond what might be termed the strictly musical, and into the area of values. What music is valued by education systems, and what music should be foregrounded in educational settings become a significant arena of contention. This is especially the case when politicians become involved, as they will often have fixed or politically-motivated views about what they think should be taught and learned in school music classes. As ever, the pages of the BJME provide some interesting views on this matter, and so it is worth a brief trawl through the archives. The BJME home page search engine on the website produces 168 results for the term "curriculum", so clearly this will be a highly selective sampling from these rich pickings in this editorial.
Although musicians have always had portfolio careers, the discourse in conservatoires around training musicians specifically for portfolio careers is relatively new. This is partly because of increasing opportunities in the workplace for entrepreneurial and multi-faceted musicians and partly - in the UK at least - because of educational policy and practice. This article incorporates narratives provided by professional portfolio musicians and students and teachers at a single conservatoire in the UK, to illustrate disjunctures between the expectations fostered by conservatoires undergoing changes in their culture and the lived experiences of teachers and students responding, in real time, to changes both within the conservatoire and in the wider society. One of the key findings of the research is that teachers and students have qualitatively different conceptions of what it means for students to be trained for portfolio careers. The paper concludes by considering the implications of their different understandings for initiatives to reform conservatoire curricula.
Ensemble playing is considered central in specialist higher music education, not least because of its collaborative nature. It is a subject in which students are expected to take significant responsibility for learning together during their many unsupervised ensemble rehearsals. This article reports from a qualitative case study investigating the ways three undergraduate student chamber ensembles negotiate musical problem-solving, emphasizing their listening efforts. Findings reveal four ways of interacting - complete, incomplete, personal and expert negotiations - and also suggest new ways of understanding aural awareness within ensembles. Working from a sociocultural perspective, the study proposes that listening is also a collective phenomenon.
The overall purpose of this article is to provide a convenient summary of empirical research on improvisation in general music education and thereby provide guidance to researchers and practitioners, using a systematic, narrative-review approach. By analysing 20 music education research articles, published from 2000-2015 in peer-reviewed journals, we firstly provide an overview of the key features and knowledge of existing research. Secondly we identify how improvisation has been characterized, conceptually before, thirdly, describing the implications of the literature for improvisation in practice. Our article reveals that improvisation tends to be an overlooked activity both in music education contexts and in music education research. Broadly speaking, music education research tends to characterise improvisation within two conceptual frameworks, which have different implications for implementation; 'structured', teacher-directed improvisation and 'free', child-directed improvisation. We conclude by arguing that music educational research on improvisation is an underdeveloped field and outline a number of questions to be addressed in future research.
This paper examines the practice of five music educators in Canada and Australia who, despite the pervasiveness of ingrained Western-based pedagogy in these countries, are forging ahead with culturally diverse music programmes. Their work is presented as five 'snapshots of practice' which provide inspiration and conceptual ideas for other teachers aiming to diversify their practice in music education. While willingness and enthusiasm are paramount, it is these exemplars of innovative and resourceful practice which are crucial in assisting teachers to recognize that alternative forms of musicianship are both legitimate and essential to a well-rounded education in sonic exploration.
This article is based on a case study of how the Rocksmith entertainment music video game can be used in the context of studying electric guitar and bass as part of music teacher training. In empirical terms, we were interested in how music teachers' knowledge becomes articulated in the pedagogical discourse of our participants. As conceptual points of departure, we used play theory, game studies, and the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) model of teacher's knowledge. Four ways of approaching the potential role of Rocksmith in music teacher education stand out as a result. In the discussion, we suggest that music gaming can be conceptualised as an activity that expands the reach of what can be considered as 'playful' and 'serious' in music teacher studies. Such an approach can guide our thinking about how different areas of music teachers' knowledge merge into multidimensional competence, paving the way for further discussion about how 'music educatorship' can be constructed in the digital era.
Recent decades have seen gender and feminist research emerge as major fields of enquiry in musicology and to a far lesser extent, music education. While these fields have increased awareness of the issues confronting women and other marginalised groups, the pedagogical practices and curricular design that might support aspiring women composers are in urgent need of attention. This article reports from an international survey of women composers (n=225), who in western art music continue to experience a masculine bias that has its roots in the past. The findings in the survey were focused on income, work and learning; relationships and networks, and gender. Numerous composers surveyed noted the under-representation of music composed by women in their higher education curricula. They also described their unpreparedness for a career in music. The article explores the issue of gender in music composition and makes practical recommendations for a more gender balanced music curriculum in higher education.