Community Engagement in the Music Teacher Education Curriculum: The Impact of Integrated Experiential Learning


Michele L. Henry, Baylor University

Michael L. Alexander, Baylor University

Russell B. Gavin, Baylor University


“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

The purpose of higher education has been described by many as a broad, multi
faceted endeavor. At once, we are charged with enculturating and educating the youthful or less experienced members of our society. At the same time, we are expected to advance that same society in whatever ways our particular field allows. In music education, we have the opportunity to accomplish both of these missions concurrently. The broad appeal of our subject matter allows us the opportunity to create environments in which our communities can be enriched, while simultaneously providing our students with valuable and authentic teaching experiences.


Teacher training programs often tout the benefits of “servicelearning”, an experiential teaching and learning model developed in the 1990s (Billig, 2003), and a powerful pedagogical tool in the education of pre-service teachers (Anderson, 1999, 2001; Anderson, Swick, & Yff, 2001; Ash & Clayton, 2004; Burton & Reynolds, 2009; Vaughn, Seifer, & Mihalynuk, 2004; W. K. Kellogg Foundation, 2000). Experiential learning through community engagement may take many forms but, in each case, students respond to a community’s need(s), apply their coursework to a real world setting, and reflect critically during and after teaching (Burton & Reynolds, 2009). Such opportunities allow pre-service teachers to connect theory to practice (Harwood, McClanahan, & Nicholas, 2006) and have been found to be predictors of success during student teaching (Sullivan, 1991). Although many music teacher education programs may already incorporate community engagement to facilitate “service” or “experiential” learning, relatively few published reports exist from which to make comparisons of best practices (Burton & Reynolds, 2009).


This best practices session will demonstrate successful integration of community engagement elements into the formal music education curriculum, each example of which involves participation of Music Education faculty members, Music Education students, and members of the surrounding community. Examples of projectbased community interaction, as well as continuous program offerings for the community will be presented in the band, choir, and orchestra areas, and in general music experiences for children with special needs. The session will include video examples and sample documents for the various projects and programs.



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