Practicing What We Preach: Creating New Possibilities for Music Teacher Education Through a New School/University Partnership

Michael P. Albertson, Geffen Academy at UCLA
Lily Chen-Hafteck, UCLA
Frank Heuser, UCLA

Music teacher education in the United States, at large, continues to adhere to the musical and pedagogical practices associated with western art music (Clements, 2009; Wang & Humphreys, 2011; Williams, 2011). At the same time there are music teacher educators who are breaking from tradition (Allsup, 2016; Heuser, 2014; Smith and Kaschub, 2014). These professors prepare future K-12 music teachers to address the pluralistic ways of music making for today’s diverse student populations. Yet university music education majors in such programs may experience fractures between their professional preparation and the expectations of their student-teaching sites.

A situation exists where either music teachers are being prepared to teach western art music to students who have much wider musical interests (Woodford, 2005) or they are being prepared to implement diverse pedagogical approaches, but have difficulty finding sites to put these approaches into practice. The three presenters for this proposal are participating in a new partnership that seeks to narrow these profession-wide disconnects—one that imagines new possibilities (Greene, 2001) for today’s music classrooms. Our lead presenter is the music department chair at a new secondary school located on the campus of a large public research university in the United States. This program is unique because unlike the majority of schools where students take courses that are predetermined by faculty, the music department designs courses that meet the interests and experiences of the students, as expressed in surveys and digital portfolios. This school is reconceptualizing school music programs (Barrett, 2005) through the implementation of modern educational approaches such as garage bands (Allsup, 2003) and popular music pedagogy.

Our two co-presenters are full-time music education professors at the university sponsoring this school. These professors prepare their students to teach in the band, choir, and orchestra paradigms, as well as in emerging and alternate pedagogies. However, none of the music programs in the surrounding schools employ emerging pedagogies. As a result, university students are unable to try out alternate approaches to music instruction. The new secondary school on campus will provide a site for music education majors to put these theories into practice. They can share these experiences with their music education professors, who can, in turn, disseminate these reports in professional publications and conferences.

The purpose of our presentation is to demonstrate how our research-practice partnership (Quartz et al., 2017) can create new possibilities for music teacher education. We will outline how this collaboration came to be, the decisions and philosophies that informed the planning of the secondary school music department, and the ways in which we collaborate to prepare future classroom music teachers. How does our partnership influence our students’ thinking about the possibilities of music and music education? How can the work of classroom teachers influence the research and practice of university teacher educators? We will share the framework we adopted for curriculum development and how what we are learning might inform similar partnerships at other universities.


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