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Thinking Ahead in Music Education

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Stephanie Buttemer

on 12 August 2014

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Transcript of Thinking Ahead in Music Education

Thinking Ahead in Music Education
Music Education in the 21st Century
As education has changed over the past decade, so has music education. Shifting to a student-centered model, many classrooms are not only teaching music, but also teaching skills required in our modern society.
Changes in Music Education
Musical Understanding
Education in the arts is essential to students’ intellectual, social, physical, and emotional growth and well-being.
-The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: The Arts. pg. 3

Assessment Practices
Critical Thinking
Creative Thinking
Carlisle, K. "Handheld Technology as a Supplemental Tool for Elementary General Music Education." General Music Today 27.2 (2013): 12-17. Web. 17 July 2014.

Lind, V. R. "Into the Deep: Mindful Music Learning." General Music Today 27.2 (2013): 18-21. Web. 9 July 2014.

McIntyre, Aliena. "Making The Invisible Visible: First Nations Music In The Classroom." Canadian Music Educator / Musicien Educateur Au Canada 54.1 (2012): 24-26. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 July 2014.

Menard, Elizabeth. "Creative Thinking in Music: Developing a Model for Meaningful Learning in Middle School General Music." Music Educators Journal 100.2 (2013): 61-7. Web. 9 July 2014

Parai, Patricia. "Nurturing Musical Understanding: Thinking Like an Assessor." Musical Understanding: Perspectives in Theory and Practice. Ed. Thomas Goolsby and Betty Hanley. Canada: Canadian Music Educators Association, 2002. 229-46. Print.

Richardson, Carol P. "Eastern Ears in Western Classrooms: Musical Understanding in Cultural Context." Musical Understanding: Perspectives in Theory and Practice. Ed. Thomas Goolsby and Betty Hanley. Canada: Canadian Music Educators Association, 2002. 185-200. Print.

Ritchhart, Ron, and Tina Blythe. Creativity in the Classroom: An Educator's Guide for Exploring Creative Teaching and Learning. Burbank, CA: Disney Learning Partnership, 1999. 23. Web. 17 July 2014

The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: The Arts. Toronto: Ministry of Education, 2009. 3-28. Print.

Wiggins, Jackie. "Teaching Music Through Problem Solving." Musical Understanding: Perspectives in Theory and Practice. Ed. Thomas Goolsby and Betty Hanley. Canada: Canadian Music Educators Association, 2002. 157-74. Print.

Zenker, Renate. "The Dynamic and Complex Nature of Musical Understanding." Musical Understanding: Perspectives in Theory and Practice. Ed. Thomas Goolsby and Betty Hanley. Canada: Canadian Music Educators Association, 2002. 27-50. Print.
Works Cited
Musical understanding is developed through a variety of musical activities, experiences and connections.
"Zenker: The Dynamic and Complex Nature of Musical Understanding, pg. 35"
The Shift in Thinking
By allowing the students to be assessors the students are provided with opportunities to think about what they are doing and why they are doing it.
For performance to advance student understanding, we must support our students with opportunity to think like assessors. We can do this through carefully planned activities that have a clear end goal and by using effective assessment strategies in our classrooms. (Parai 245)
End in Mind
"Although most people might look for signs of creativity in the appearance of the bulletin boards, student made projects, centers, and displays in a classroom, I feel that the truly creative classroom goes way beyond what can be seen with the eyes. It is a place where bodies and minds actively pursue new knowledge. Having a creative classroom means that the teacher takes risks on a daily basis and encourages his/her students to do the same."

—Pann Baltz, 1993 ATA Teacher of the Year
as quoted in Ritchhart's Creativity in the Classroom

How are music educators and students taking creative risks?
Implementing the Creative Process
Through a variety of classroom activities music educators can develop a well rounded student-centered approach with creative discovery as the means to uncovering the curriculum.
-The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: The Arts. pg. 20
Critical analysis in the music classroom is open ended questioning that will bring a deeper understanding of the music to which they are listening. With appropriate background knowledge, personal history, culture and experiences, students can develop an informed point of view on a piece of music. There are no wrong answers, but they should be able to provide evidence for their thinking.
What are music educators doing to promote Critical Thinking in the classroom?
The Critical Analysis Process
-The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: The Arts. pg. 24
"While students' ability to solve problems certainly provides the teacher with information about the level and depth of their understanding, what is more important is that problem solving is an opportunity to further learning." (Wiggins 159)
In Summary ...
“The scary part is, without any musical background, you could just photocopy sheets about music notation for the kids to fill in all year and claim to be delivering the curriculum. But that’s like teaching kids the alphabet without showing them the joy of reading a book.”

Kevin Merkley, York Region District School Board, as quoted in Louise Brown, “Majority of Music Teachers Lack Musical Background: Survey”Toronto Star (4 November 2010).
Music specialist teachers are an invaluable resource in every elementary school. Music Education is a complex process to ensure that the needs of all students are met. We do this by implementing rich programs that promote thinking and inquiry, both skills transferable to other areas of students lives.
Here are the “Six Facets of Understanding” according to Wiggins & McTighe with a musical focus by Parai.
Authentic learning experiences are developed for musical understanding. The shift of focus in the music classroom is the emphasis put on the student rather than the teacher.
How does teaching for deeper understanding connect to assessment in the music classroom?
Is the focus of music education solely performance based?
How are music educators extending the curriculum to meet needs of all students?
How does this look in the music classroom?
Music Creations Class
Here's an example of a grade 6 music program in Ohio that underwent a transformation from a general music class to a music creations class. The class had 18 students with little to no background in performing music.
Here are some highlights of the program

Differentiate for the students who don’t read music by encouraging them to use graphic notation maps such as swirls, steps, circles, etc. Students who do read music can add in traditional music notation on their maps.
The pieces are videotaped as the end of the year allowing the students to feel pride in their musical accomplishments. All students have created a piece of work that has taken many months. The students support one another because the discovery phase was completed together.
Teaching other students their melodies and explaining how to play it “correctly”. Adding group accompaniment with the student composer as the leader.
Extending the compositions throughout the year as new musical ideas are introduced. As each student's musical understanding grows so does their composition. It also allows for time away from the composition to allow for a fresh perspective with new ideas.
“Play it three times” rule. When exploring on their instrument, if a student can play it three times in a row it is considered composed.
Echoing patterns on bucket drums to find steady beat and rhythmic subdivisions. This gives the students with no prior knowledge of how to play music the ability to distinguish between beat and rhythm through hands-on discovery.
Discussing melody as notes that move up, down, repeat, stepwise and by leap. The students can then explore this on melodic percussion instruments to create shot melodies. The students discover and make decisions on what sounds best.
Menard, Elizabeth. "Creative Thinking in Music: Developing a Model for Meaningful Learning in Middle School General Music." Music Educators Journal 100.2 (2013): 61-7. Web. 9 July 2014
The students are brainstorming ideas by exploring rhythm, beat, and melody on their instruments. By exploring they’re developing their musical understanding. They’re using their prior knowledge to determine what sounds good and making choices on what is included in their composition. They are revising their composition throughout the year adding to it as their musical understanding grows. The students perform their piece throughout the process reflecting on what is successful and what should be revised.

-The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: The Arts. pg. 20
Programs like this one are being implemented in Ontario music classrooms by specialist music teachers all the time to make the curriculum more accessible to all students.
How does the music creations class correlate to the Creative Process as outlined in the Ontario Arts Curriculum?
Teachers are implementing the Ontario Curriculum Critical Analysis process in thier classrooms both formally and informally, through open-ending questioning and the inquiry process.
How does the Critical Analysis Process work in a music classroom?
Critical Thinking Process: How it works in the music classroom
4. Point of view/consolidation - compare with initial first impression and connect to other pieces they may have heard. See if there is anything to apply to own work.
How do music teachers facilitate this process?
Connection with cultural context is encouraged at various points in the process, but is not the main driving force of the music class. Inquiry into the events of the artist's life and the social, political, and cultural climate at the time of the piece may help provide depth and meaning to student's learning and creating.
Guiding Questions
"By developing thinking dispositions, our students will become more observant as they learn to consider alternative perspectives, think creatively, and investigate complex questions." (Lind 21)
Through guiding questions, teachers can help develop habit of mind.
Here are examples of questions reflecting the Critical Analysis process from the Ontario Arts Curriculum, pg 25 - 28:
Initial Reaction: What is your first impression? What does this work bring to mind?
Description: What grabs your attending in the work? What "qualities" do you hear or see in this work?
Analysis and Interpretation: How are the elements organized. combined, or arranged? What message or meaning do you think the work conveys?
Expression of an Informed Point of View: Has your point of view shifted from you initial reaction? If so, how has it changed? What made you change your mind?
Multiculturalism & Diversity
Students come to the classroom with different musical experiences. As music teachers we honour these experiences. Music teachers ensure that as the students use their experiences to shape their understanding of the music that we are open and receptive to different types of musical understanding.
"We must also recognize that music from the home culture can be a powerful emotional link for the immigrant children in our schools and offer ways to help classroom teachers make use of this musical link too."
(Richardson 197)
Music is a way to introduce students to other cultures from Canada and around the world. By using examples of different cultures routinely in class, music teachers are promoting a deeper musical understanding.
"Perhaps the largest benefit of teaching First Nations music to students is that it provides the opportunity for critical thinking. Teachers can encourage students to consider their own cultural identity and examine how the arts help to shape this." (McIntyre 26)
"[The curriculum expectations] must, wherever possible, be inclusive and reflect the diversity of the student population and the population of the province."
-The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: The Arts. pg. 11

What kind of music is used to promote deeper understanding?
To promote musical understanding and teach the creative and critical thought process as well as a student-centered classroom, music teachers employ technology to enhance their programs.
Here are some ways that technology is being integrated into the music classroom:
"Continually considering how technology can be used in the elementary general music classroom can result in integration that effectively enhances students’ musical learning without sacrificing hands-on learning and active engagement."
(Carlisle 16)
Google group/Class website/Dropbox - Allows students to easily share their work with their classmates or their teacher.
Youtube/Naxos - Students can easily listen to music from Canada and around the world. If listened to on a personal device the student can listen to it multiple times for deeper musical understanding.
iPad/Personal Device - records students and allow the students to critically analyze their own performance.
Music composition software (Finale, noteflight.com) - Allows students to hear what they're composing and gives the students more creative choices.
The Critical Analysis process is not used in isolation as it links very closely to the Creative Process.
When considering a piece of music they're performing, another classmate is performing, or a recorded performance of a piece students, are taught to go through the Critical Analysis Process to bring deeper understanding to the music to which they are listening. No matter the students' previous musical experience, everyone can implement this process.
1. First impressions of a piece (beyond a simple yes or no) - connections to own previous experiences
2. Observations - describe what they hear
3. Perception/interpretation - may consider cultural context of the piece at this point
Explanation: The student being able to talk about what he is performing, listening to, or composing while supporting the decisions he has made. (233)
Interpretation: Allowing the students to think for themselves instead of a teacher-centered approach (234)
Application: Students acting like assessors to take ownership of their playing and listening (236)
Perspective: Listening to others to compare and make connections to their own work. (237)
Empathy: Shifting from passive to active in learning. For example, by understanding what the composer intended in a piece of music. (238)
Self-Knowledge: The student is aware of his strengths and weaknesses and can make improvements as necessary. (239)
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