Society for Music Teacher Educators Symposium 2017
ABSTRACT: How might music teacher education curricula help music educators think broadly about music teaching and learning beyond P-12 school settings and related practices? In this paper, music education students and professors approach this question through discussion of a community-centric, ukulele-based participatory musicking project. We examined how engagement through this project may have impacted the “focus, range, and distance” (Hammerness, 2003, p. 45) of music teachers’ professional vision. This multi-faceted curricular project was aimed at engaging preservice music educators in community-based, informal, and participatory making and learning that included students: (1) planning and hosting multiple “learn and jam” events targeting different community populations (e.g., university students, faculty, and staff; families with children; persons not engaged by university music programs); (2) investigating and considering participatory musicking in relation to current and emergent musical learning settings and practices (e.g., Randles, Griffis, & Ruiz, 2015; Thibeault, 2013, 2015); and (3) building instruments and investigating maker-based practices (e.g., Thibeault & Evoy, 2011; Bledsoe & Stapleton, 2016). This project was embedded within two undergraduate music education courses in which small groups of students designed, promoted, facilitated, and reflected upon community-based events.
We situate this study as a “reflective case study” modeled after Maclellan’s (2007) adaptation of Stake’s (2003) instrumental case study design. Using Hammerness’ (2003) tripartite conception of professional vision as “focus, range, and distance” as a theoretical tool, we examine the impact of this project upon participants’ professional vision. Two questions guide our inquiry: What meanings do participants ascribe to their experiences in this project? and How might participation in this project impact one’s professional vision? Data for this study were generated via course documents stored in the university’s learning management system, a web-based team communication tool, and reflective dialogues among participating music teacher educators and pre-service music educators. Themes that emerged from the data suggested that participants found the project meaningful: (1) as an exploration of the balance between careful preparation and adaptability in the context of authentic teaching situations, (2) as an opportunity to create a music learning experience that prioritizes enjoyment and connection among both facilitators and learners, and (3) as an opportunity to build new praxial vocabulary. New curricular methods such as experience design constructed a larger skill set of practical tools that participants felt they could utilize in future music teaching opportunities. Participants also noted discovering a widened set of career options through their experience engaging with different P-12 and community settings which suggests an expansion of their professional vision. Findings from this study have multiple implications for music teacher education, including opportunities to: (1) (re)consider how practicum experiences offer opportunities for students to apply both curricular learnings and extracurricular experiences, (2) (re)consider contexts through which curricular content (e.g., lesson planning, beginning instrumental pedagogy) is experienced and taught, and (3) provide spaces in which students can consider varied options for a/vocational music teaching and learning with varied populations.