Supporting and Sustaining a Personal Orientation to Music Teaching: Implications for Music Teacher Education Curriculum


Mark Robin Campbell

The Crane School of Music

SUNY at Potsdam

Potsdam, NY 13617


Linda K. Thompson

School of Music

Lee University

Cleveland, TN 37320


Over the last several decades, various pedagogical orientations toward understanding teaching and conceptualizing preservice curricula have emerged in the field of teacher education. Since the late 1980s, much of the research in teacher education has focused on what Carter and Anders (1996) refer to as the personal orientation.


This focus reflects the perspective that understandings of what being a teacher is and / or how one teaches develop through personal experience in cultural, social, historical, and gendered contexts. As Carter and Doyle (1996) point out, "presumably individuals draw their interpretations from a variety of remembered experiences, bits of information, beliefs, knowledge, dispositions, commitments, and cultural forms, as well as the tasks at hand." It is these interpretations, beliefs, images, and conceptions that form attitudes that drive actions in classrooms. Therefore, the need to construct curricular frameworks that provide avenues for articulating, analyzing, and challenging these beliefs and interpretations becomes critically important.


The purpose of this paper is to stimulate discussion regarding the creation of a music teacher education program that supports and sustains a personal orientation to music teaching. Two learning goals essential for developing a personal orientation are considered: 1. Examination of personal beliefs in relation to visions of good teaching; and 2. Development of tools and dispositions for fostering a life-long study of teaching.


Recent research examining preservice teachersÕ beliefs and images of teaching and learning is used to anchor the analysis and discussion of the first learning goal. Both research in general teacher education (Wideen, Mayer-Smith and Moon, 1998) and music teacher education are examined (Austin and Reinhardt, 1999; Thompson, 2000; Thompson and Campbell, 2003; Boardman, 1992; Madsen and Kelly, 2002; Teachout, 1997).


To examine the second learning goal, research investigating program interventions, as reviewed by Wideen, Mayer-Smith and Moon (1998), is presented. Program intervention studies in music teacher education sympathetic with the personal orientation remain unidentified, although initial conceptualizations about problems and issues are emerging (see for example, Thiessen and Barrett, 2002; Conkling, 2003). The work of Katz and Raths (1986) is used to set the discussion of dispositions in teacher education. Specific disposition research in music teacher education also remains unidentified. However, studies related to learning to teach music are reviewed (Campbell, 1996; Perschesky, 1996; Barrett and Rasmussen, 1996).


Feiman-NemserÕs (2001) analysis of professional learning is used as framework for discussion. Attention is given to pedagogical processes and tools that can be used to uncover and articulate beliefs, images of teaching and learning and life experiences that influence and construct teaching and learning beliefs. Additional emphasis is given to approaches for developing dispositions and professional discourses for life-long study of teaching, such as respecting evidence, openness, valuing alternative perspectives, and searching for common understanding through skills of observation, interpretation, analysis, and reflection.