Music Education Research to Practice

I’m presenting at the 2012 Professional Development Conference of the Ohio Music Educators Association. Two of my sessions fall under the heading of Research to Practice. This is obviously an interest of mine. I believe research is a worthwhile endeavor that can inform what musicians do in their performance and what music teachers do in their instruction. Below I’ll provide descriptions of a couple of sessions I’m doing, along with the handouts for each.

Research to Practice: Bring Vernacular Musicianship into Your Classroom
(Thursday, February 16, 5:15pm)

Recent research has promoted the merits of incorporating popular music—or “vernacular music”—into school music. Vernacular musicians tend to acquire a skill set that differs from that typically emphasized in formal education. A number of music researchers have provided evidence that the adoption of certain popular music practices could improve music education altogether. Although many music teachers are not philosophically opposed to using popular music in their teaching—after all, it is what’s on their iPods—they have little experience actually doing it. Their own musicianship may lack certain skills important in vernacular music making. These critical skills include playing by ear, improvising, composing original music, and creating music collaboratively with others.

This session will survey recent research on vernacular musicianship while simultaneously applying its findings to music instruction. Those in attendance will learn how to broaden their teaching approaches to make classroom activities and curricular offerings more inclusive and better representative of the musical world that today’s students live in. An underlying message of this session is this: An ultimate goal of music education is to equip children with the skills needed for participatory involvement with music for the rest of their lives. Developing the skills of vernacular musicianship may be an important step in realizing this.

Handout for Bring Vernacular Musicianship into Your Classroom

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Research to Practice: The Psychology of Music Performance
(Friday, February 17, 8:00am)

Ideally our students approach music making with the goal of performing heartfelt expression that will emotionally move their listeners. Truth be told, however, this probably happens too infrequently in our rehearsal rooms and school auditoriums. Sometimes the only emotion student musicians bring to a performance is fear, as stage fright takes hold. Can teachers do more to encourage expressive musicianship and stave off the onset of anxiety in performance situations?

Whether student performances are marked by moving expressivity or debilitating stage fright can be influenced by the way we teach music to them. This session will consider the interrelated nature of motivation, performance anxiety, and expressive performance. It will draw from the research in these areas and apply it in practical tips for teaching and learning. During this session, attendants will have a chance to clarify their own musical motivations, and receive recommendations for capitalizing on student motivational patterns. Also, the audience will learn the keys to managing stage fright and ways to structure music performance activities to help avoid anxiety altogether. This session will illustrate that a learning environment that taps students’ intrinsic motivation for music is crucial in efforts to teach toward expressive playing and singing, and away from the conditions of performance anxiety.

Handout for The Psychology of Music Performance


One response to “Music Education Research to Practice

  1. The session on vernacular musicianship was fantastic. It’s great to hear this topic being discussed. I’m curious if, along with developing musicianship skills beyond those of traditional ensembles, you believe there is also a need to develop educated consumers of music who may not be performers?

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