Mystory: Preservice Music Teachers Imagining Possible Futures Through Arts-Based Inquiry


Shannan L. Hibbard, University of Michigan

Jared R. Rawlings, University of Utah

Sommer H. Forrester, University of Massachusetts Boston


As music teacher educators imagine possible futures, we must consider whether our course content allows preservice teachers to use their unique perspectives to visualize as well. This session will feature a project called “Mystory” which allows for such an opportunity. Mystory is an arts-based, symbolic interactionist form of inquiry which challenges students to contextualize moments from their past, present, and imagined futures in music education by creatively editing recorded music, asking they dare to probe and ask important questions to re-examine existing paradigms, relationships, knowledge, contexts, practices, and systems that keep us committed to status quo.


Mystory originated in the philosophical treatise Teletheory (Ulmer, 2004), as a heuristic historiography emphasizing the transitional “middle voice” (Derrida, 1973), illuminating the author’s life experience as a vehicle for inquiry. From there, Mystory performances emerged in arts-based educational inquiry as personal cultural texts (e.g., narratives, paintings, poetry, music) that contextualize important personal experiences and problems within the institutional settings and historical moments where their authors find themselves. They attempt to make sense of seemingly senseless moments in life, to capture frustrations and turmoil and open them up for critique. They open a liminal space, and create an open dialogic text, where a diverse group of people can be brought to collective understanding of the sites of power, of conflicts between the empowered and the powerless, and from this point of understanding can begin to address the need for social change (Finley, 2005, p. 690).


Today, the Mystory project has emerged as an inquiry tool for preservice music teacher vision and identity. Literature informing the development of the Mystory project for preservice music teachers include teaching vision (Hammerness, 2003) and literature linking identity construction to personal teaching philosophy (Barrett, Campbell, & Thompson, 2010; Campbell & Thompson, 2010; Dolloff, 1999; Green, 2011; Holt-Reynolds, 1992; Jalongo & Isenberg, 1995). The past-present-future structure of the Mystory project represents this connection between identity construction and ways students may envision their place in the future of music education.


The first part of this session presents the theoretical framework for the Mystory project. The presenters will describe this framework as a cross-disciplinary approach to addressing arts-based educational inquiry. The second part of this session details how the Mystory project was applied within four university preservice music teacher curricula. Specifically, the presenters will discuss how the project was adapted for music education in response to preservice identity construction practices in music teacher education. Within the concluding segment of this session, the presenters model sample projects from preservice music teachers, display data on the benefits of Mystory, and generate future directions with the attendees.


The aim of this session contributes to the theme of the 2017 symposium by highlighting a voice rarely included at music education conferences, that of the preservice music teacher. Broadly conceived, this session will contribute to two ASPAs, Critical Examination of the Curriculum and Program Admission, Assessment, and Alignment; however, it may be plausible to also extend the purpose of this session to additional ASPAs.




Barrett, J.R., Campbell, M.R., & Thompson, L.K. (2010). Constructing a personal orientation to music teaching. New York, NY: Routledge.

Campbell, M. R., & Thompson, L. K. (Eds). (2010). Issues of identity in music education: Narratives and practices. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Derrida, J. (1973). Speech and phenomena, and other essays on Husserl's theory of signs. Northwestern University Press.

Dolloff, L. A. (1999). Imagining ourselves as teachers: The development of teacher identity in music teacher education. Music Education Research, 1(2), 191-207.

Finley, S. (2005). Arts-based inquiry: Performing pedagogy. In N. K. Denzin and Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research (pp. 681-94). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Green, L. (Ed.). (2011). Learning, teaching, and musical identity: Voices across cultures. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Hammerness, K. (2003). Learning to hope, or hoping to learn? The role of vision in the early professional lives of teachers. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(1), 43-56.

Holt-Reynolds, D. (1992). Personal history-based beliefs as relevant knowledge in course work. American Educational Research Journal, 29(2), 325-349.

Jalongo, M. R., & Isenberg, J.P. (1995). Teachers' stories: From personal narrative to professional insight. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Ulmer, G. (2004). Teletheory: Grammatology in the age of video. New York: Routeledge.