Developing Core Teaching Practices in Music Education

Si Millican, University of Texas at San Antonio
Sommer H. Forrester, University of Massachusetts Boston

Teacher education scholars and national accreditation councils in the United States point to the need for educator preparation programs to focus less on isolated instructional practices and content knowledge and more on systematically preparing pre-service teachers to know and use instructional practices in the classroom in an authentic way (Ball & Bass, 2002; Ball & Forzani, 2009; Franke, Kazemi, 2009; Grossman, Hammerness, & McDonald, 2009; Lampert, 2009; Lampert Ghousseini, Turrou, Beasley, & Crowe, 2013). Recent attempts to decipher the complexities of music teaching and learning have used frameworks such as pedagogical content knowledge to describe the ways teachers understand their disciplines in order to teach them to others. Researchers in math, English, and history have modified this framework to identify core teaching practices within their disciplines. Core teaching practices are those that novices can begin to master, have a direct impact on student success, and involve student engagement. Music education scholars have begun to utilize these frameworks to deconstruct the complexities of music teaching and learning; however, it remains unclear which core practices are central to teaching music.

The purpose this research presentation is to present the findings from two recent studies that begin to define some of the core practices in music education. In the first study, the authors developed preliminary list of core teaching practices in music using a Delphi expert panel approach. We recruited a panel of experts made up of college teachers and public-school music teachers and researchers in band, orchestra, choral, and elementary general music areas. Panel participants completed three rounds of questionnaires in which they rated proposed core teaching practices and were given the opportunity to suggest additional core teaching practices.

Building on the findings from the Delphi project, we developed a second study in order to identify in-service music educators’ opinions surrounding the relative importance of selected core music teaching practices for beginning music teachers. Our research questions included (a) how do music teachers rate and rank the importance of selected core teaching practices? and (b) are there differences in the way teachers rate or rank the importance of selected core teaching practices based on the subject or grade level they teach?

In this presentation, we will present specific ways that the knowledge of core teaching practices intersect with the overarching conference themes of imagining expectations for, and experiences in, music education for preservice teachers, teacher educators, in-service teachers, and students. This research presentation supports the ongoing work surrounding teacher education and curriculum reform in the Critical Examination of the Curriculum ASPA.


Ball, D. L., & Bass, H. (2002). Toward a practice-based theory of mathematical knowledge for teaching. In Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Mathematics Education Study Group. Kingston, Canada: CMESG (pp. 3–14). Retrieved from

Ball, D. L., & Forzani, F. M. (2009). The work of teaching and the challenge for teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 60, 497–511.

Franke, M. L., Kazemi, E., & Battey, D. (2007). Mathematics teaching and classroom practice. In F. K. Lester (Ed.), Second handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 225–256). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

Grossman, P., Hammerness, K., & McDonald, M. (2009). Redefining teaching, reimagining teacher education. Teachers and Teaching, 15(2), 273–289. doi:10.1080/13540600902875340

Lampert, M. (2009). Learning teaching in, from, and for practice: What do we mean? Journal of Teacher Education, 61, 21-34. doi:10.1177/0022487109347321

Lampert, M., Franke, M. L., Kazemi, E., Ghousseini, H., Turrou, A. C., Beasley, H., & Crowe, K. (2013). Keeping it complex using rehearsals to support novice teacher learning of ambitious teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 64(3), 226–243. doi:10.1177/0022487112473837