“Roll Over Beethoven”: The Perspectives of Two Formally Trained Musicians Integrating Popular Music Pedagogies in Higher Education


Martina  Vasil, University of Kentucky


Lindsay Weiss, Drake University



The increasing prominence of popular music education programs in K–12 school music programs (Powell, Krikun, & Pignato, 2015) has prompted the need to include popular music and informal learning, or Popular Music Pedagogies (PMP), into music teacher preparation programs (Jones, 2008; Mantie, 2013; Wang & Humphreys, 2009). However, many K–12 music teachers feel that they are not prepared to teach popular music (Byrne & Sheridan, 2000; Choate, 1968; Isbell, 2007). Challenges they face include their own views of popular music, their uncertainty about how to integrate PMP into K–12 music classrooms, limited resources and professional development opportunities, and institutional constraints (Abramo & Austin, 2014; Abril, 2009; Allsup, 2003; Colley, 2008; Green, 2008; Hess, 2013; Kastner, 2012). As K–12 music teachers enter higher education to prepare to be music teacher educators, they still do not gain the experiences needed to teach popular music successfully; less than one percent of the time in music teacher education programs are devoted to popular music (Wang & Humphreys, 2009).


A few studies have examined how informal learning occurs in university settings (Beaumont, 2015; Powell, 2011) and one teacher educator reflected upon her use of popular music in her choral/general methods class (Ferguson, 2009). However, there is a need to examine how music teacher educators gain the skills and experiences needed to teach PMP. The purpose of this autoethnographic multiple case study (Holt, 2003; Krueger, 2013) was to compare the experiences of two music teacher educators who integrated PMP into their college curricula. Assuming the roles of both co-researcher and participant, we examined our experiences as formally trained musicians navigating the unfamiliar waters of informal learning commonly used in performing and creating popular music (Green, 2008) while instructing undergraduate and graduate music education methods courses. Data included three semi-structured interviews (Seidman, 2006), artifacts (instructor’s lesson plans, personal reflective notes, student reflection journals, blog discussion assignments), and video and audio recordings of the undergraduate and graduate courses. We employed cross-case analyses to compare the challenges we faced as we navigated learning popular music in efforts to revise our curricula to include PMP in music teacher preparation programs. Our inquiry was directed by Bandura’s (1986) Theory of Teaching Self-Efficacy, which asserts that changes in teachers’ beliefs in their ability to successfully accomplish a task stem from four primary sources: 1) enactive mastery experiences (completing a task); 2) vicarious experience (watching others complete a task); 3) verbal and non-verbal persuasion (encouragement or deterrents); and 4) physiological reactions (anxiety).


Through examining each other’s experiences, we offer suggestions for other formally trained, novice popular music teacher educators interested in facilitating informal music learning experiences for their own pre-service and in-service music education students; we also offer ideas for reshaping the future of music teacher preparation programs (addressing the “Music Teacher Educators: Identification, Preparation, and Professional Development” ASPA and the 2017 conference theme of "Imagining Possible Futures").




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