Putting It All Together and Moving Forward

For our final week of this course, our articles focused on the changes music education scholars believe we need to see moving forward. Our discussion board also focused around the idea of changes we believe need to happen in music education. Finally, we also had to complete a paper, which I will post separately, analyzing our current teaching practices in light of what we have learned in this course.


Abrahams article discusses how we currently train music educators in post-secondary institutions today. He identifies what he calls a “new sociology for music education” that embraces four fundamentals. Abrahams also lays out his vision for what pre-service music teacher preparation curricula should look like. Here are a few notes I took:

  • “College music education curricula should be based on four fundamental principles that will guide the development of behaviors and enduring understandings and the acquisition of a critical consciousness in pre-service music teachers. Specifically, engagements with music in school should: (1) empower musicianship; (2) be authentic and acknowledged as meaningful by both teacher and student; (3) develop musical potentials; and (4) be framed inside a community of practice that connects the music that students listen to and enjoy outside school with the music prescribed in the school curriculum.” (p. 41)

  • Four Fundamentals of A New Sociology for Music Education

    • “Music Education is a discipline that empowers musicianship and in the process transforms both the students and their teachers.'“ (p. 45)

    • “Music education in schools provides opportunities for teachers and students to interact in authentic musical experiences which are acknowledged as important and meaningful to both of them. (p. 46)

    • “A musical education nurtures a student’s musical potential. Such potential includes musical imagination, musical intellect, musical creativity, and musical performance.” (p. 46)

    • “Music education in schools is a community of practice (Wenger, 2006) that provides a crosswalk to connect formal music learning inside school with informal music learning outside school. It provides a window into the cultural history of the past, records the cultural history of the present and sets the foundation for a cultural history of the future. Most important, music education adds value to student’s lives.” (p. 47)

  • “Music teacher preparation programs should include curricula designed to add value to the ways students engage with music outside of schools in their personal and often very private lives. Curriculum should result from the interaction of teachers and students in authentic and meaningful experiences, which are acknowledged as important to both of them. Its purpose should be to enrich and change the knowings, understandings, and perceptions that students and teachers have as individuals and as members of a specialized community of practice. When that happens, curriculum results in an enlightened vision of what is important and what adds value to the world within the context of each person’s place inside and outside that reality. Curriculum is content, which becomes significant when situated in a context rich in social capital. The curriculum for the music education cohort should focus on behaviors, enduring understandings, experiences, and the development of habits of mind that foster a critical consciousness. Finally, the program should produce music teachers who are able to deliver instruction in ways that deliberately foster musical literacy among the future children that they will teach.” (pp. 48-49)

    • Behaviors - Lesson plans containing 4 components: partner, present, personalize, perform (pp. 49-53)

    • Enduring Understandings - Demonstrate understanding by explaining, interpreting, applying, empathizing, having perspectives, and having self-knowledge (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005) (p. 53)

    • Experiences - Developing personal musicianship and performance skills through opportunities to create, perform, present, produce, respond to music, and connect music (NCCAS, 2012). Including opportunities for community service, individualized ongoing professional development, and off campus, teaching in classrooms. (p. 55)

    • Acquisition of a Critical Consciousness - “Critical consciousness focuses on achieving an in-depth understanding of the world, allowing for the perception of exposure of social and political contradictions. Critical consciousness also includes taking action against the oppressive elements in one’s life that are illuminated by that understanding (Freire, 2005) and facilitating the ability of students to read and write the world” (p. 55-56)

    • Musical Literacy - “the ability of students to engage in the creation of artistic forms in various ways, but always with the goal of making meaning. They further suggest that the abilities to create, perform, present, produce, respond, and connect in meaningful ways are indicators of such musical literacies.” (NCCAS, 2012) (pp. 56-57)

Koza’s article uses arguments made by Popkewitz (1998) to analyze the need to “save” music education. I believe her thesis can be encapsulated in the two quotes I list below. However, I really struggled to follow her argument and her “different assumptions:”

“Thus, as I look at the current alchemic product called school music and assess whether I am going to support initiatives to save it, I seek evidence of systems of reasoning that will help forge closer cultural connections between school music and the musical worlds students experience outside of the classroom. I am referring here both to what students learn and how they learn it. Different assumptions about music, children, and school may need to be invoked, however.” (p. 28)

“In closing, recognizing the inevitability of alchemy, I can support school music if it is culturally relevant, equitable, joyful, and sustainable. For school music to meet this criteria, however, different assumptions about music, children, and schools may need to be invoked, and some necessary changes in thinking may need to come from places far afield of the music classroom.” (p. 36)

Regelski’s article calls for a fundamental change from two sources. First, he wants us to completely rethink “what music “is” and is “good for” in human life and society, as the basis for professional judgments at each and every step in the music education enterprise” (p. 10). Second, he wants us to shift our attention “from the “how to” focus of ‘methods’ and ‘conducting’ classes to the “what to teach” issues addressed by curriculum” (p. 11).

In Myers’ article, he asks us to look at music learning as a lifelong enterprise and to adjust our teaching to match this thinking. He sees a dichotomy between the music education happening in our schools and the music-making occurring outside of our schools. This quote best sums his article up:

“the focus must be on engaging children in independent and authentic music making that is consistent with their developmental capacities, and that will grow with them into and through adulthood. As adults, they are then empowered to choose those musical experiences most consonant with their own desires and capacities. If, in addition, we provide opportunities for adults to begin and/or continue this same process, we move toward a firm foundation for lifelong music learning and participation.” (p. 56)

Finally, McCarthy’s article looks at 100 years of articles (1914-2014) in the Music Educators Journal to try and draw out a narrative and themes. The three themes she identifies are: creating a musical America at the grassroots level in the community, promoting American music, and responding to the call of the nation to unite Americans through music in times of crisis. She traces the articles chronologically, highlighting in each era how articles contributed to these three themes.

Discussion Board


In the final week we consider the relevance of music education in the lives of school children and music making beyond 12th grade. We also take a look at MEJ publications from the past 100 years (McCarthy, 2014). What do these readings tell us about the state of music education then and now? More importantly, what is next? How might our work and music making today be meaningful in this century and beyond for both our students and for adults (e.g., Myers, 2008)? What visions might you have for teacher education, professional development, and music in society? Remember that children entering kindergarten in September 2018 will be in their 80s at the turn of the next century.


I believe the broad theme McCarthy (2014) draws out of creating a musical America at the grassroots level in the community is still a strong need in the state of music education. This is more specifically defined in Abrahams' (2014) four fundamentals of a new sociology for music education, Koza's (2006) desire for closer relationships between school music and the music of the outside world, Regelski's (2006) call for a rethinking of "what music "is" and is "good for"" (p. 10), and Myers (2008) desire to shift toward a lifespan perspective.

Moving forward, I think we need to ensure (1) our students need to be musically literate in the world outside of our programs; (2) that literacy should have a positive impact on the world outside of our programs; and (3) we should be providing these opportunities to all students in our schools, not just those in our B/O/C/GM paradigms. To accomplish these aims, current and future music educators will need training in thinking through the "good ends" and "right reasons" of music education (Regelski, 2012) and broadening musical experiences to incorporate musics from the cultures and communities in which we teach. By broadening our impact in terms of the students we reach, the music we teach, and an end goal of a musically literate world, we will be impacting music making well into the future.

One of my classmates described preparing for performances and competitions as “teaching to the test.” Here is how I responded:

I like how you drew out competition as one of the ways large ensemble directors "teach to the test." I had not thought about competition in that way, but it definitely is: designing and rehearsing performances to achieve at a high level against a ballot. Without knowing a great deal of the history in the marching band realm, I can see why a competitive atmosphere arose if directors were interested in expanding beyond the realm of half-time entertainment. Anecdotally, most of our students continuing to perform after high school are doing so as part of college marching bands. A smaller number of those continuing perform in concert or jazz ensembles; smaller still are students who go on to major in music. I can think of two students in my career so far who have continued in a different vein of music outside of our COB paradigm. All that being said, I agree that the individual competition we provided those students benefits their music literacy as they continue to be involved with music. I'm just not sure how much of their desire to continue came from our marching, concert, or jazz band experiences. It is definitely more difficult for the large ensembles to try and broaden these experiences!

Another classmate shared the need for more opportunities for adults to participate in music. My response:

Thank you for pointing out the need for more opportunities for adults to make music! Having recently moved across the country, I am an adult struggling to find opportunities to make music in my new community. Rochut etudes in my study only go so far... Thinking of my previous community, there were adult community choruses, a community band, and a few places to study privately, but we did not have comprehensive offerings for adults to learn or continue to participate in music. If we're looking to achieve Allison's goal of accomplishing excellence AND incorporating music into students' futures, maybe that means participating in performances with these community ensembles, helping our students teach music to members of our community, or opening up our facilities to welcome the community in this experience.

In response to a post about high school participation in school music, a classmate asked what she, as an elementary teacher, could do to boost participation in high school music:

In my paper, I discuss broadening beyond our current 20% plateau of high school students enrolled in music, and I think the problem first needs to be addressed at the high school level. Not only do we need to broaden the experiences of our large ensembles, I think we need to reach more students with more course offerings in areas like composition, music technology, music production, or "modern music" instruments as we have discussed before. Hopefully, by offering more for the "non-traditional" music student, we can increase the percentage of students involved in music.

Having not taught at the elementary level, I think having a broad range of experiences in both the types of music studied and the way students read notated music is the best approach. What if part of a beginning band/orchestra model involved learning to read music on multiple instruments? What if elementary students were able to experience producing music in some way?


In this final week, we were also asked to write a paper analyzing our current teaching practices in light of what we have learned in this course. That post, which will come after I have received the grade from my facilitator, will be best for reflecting on what I have learned this term. Looking forward to sharing it with you!


Burton Hable

Burton Hable is an instrumental music educator from Central Iowa. In 2013 he helped open Centennial High School in Ankeny, the first time in forty years that a school district in Iowa expanded to two high schools. He served there through 2018 as Assistant Director of Bands: conducting the 10th Grade Symphonic Band, directing the varsity Jazz Collective, co-directing the Centennial Marching and Pep Bands, teaching music theory, and providing individual and small group lessons to brass students in grades 6-12 at Prairie Ridge Middle School, Northview Middle School, and Centennial High School. During his tenure in Ankeny, enrollment in band grew from 450 to nearly 700, the jazz program expanded from four to seven ensembles, and ensembles under his direction were invited to perform at Iowa State University, Harper College, and the Veterans Day Parade in New York City.