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  • Writer's picturemartinthomasemo

What do your beliefs have to do with what you teach?

Updated: Feb 9, 2020

“Beliefs are unlikely to be replaced unless they prove unsatisfactory, and they are unlikely to prove unsatisfactory unless they are challenged and one is unable to assimilate them into existing conditions” (Pajares, 1992)

“The recurrent, systematic and critical examination of beliefs and assumptions – of the grounds for our musical and instructional actions – is fundamental to professional practice in music education” (Bowman & Frega, 2012)

Over the last year, I’ve been working on my PHD proposal (don’t worry, it’s expected to take that long). This is where I write concisely what I want to research. This includes wading through the research, studies and thoughts that have happened in the past, and navigating a path forward for myself.

One key aspect of the research I will be undertaking in 2020-2021, is investigating what teachers actually think music education should be, and what the relationship that has with what they do with digital technology in their classrooms. Most of the conversation (in person or online) surrounding digital technology is on what to use, and how to get better at using it. Taking a step back and examining what is trying to be achieved by the teacher is not often present. How do you find the time to take a step back?

The roots of my PHD began in my 2018 masters research project, where high school classroom music teachers participated in a 20-week blended learning course in learning Ableton Live and it’s hardware controller, the Push. For all of the teachers, somewhere between week 9 and 20 of the course, they all underwent a paradigm shift in their view of what they were doing. They all ended up believing that to learn Ableton Live was like learning a traditional musical instrument. It requires the same level of regular practice, resources, teaching support and opportunities to compose and perform.

(There are more findings to share, but I’m yet to fully publish the complete findings of my masters, as I continued straight onto my PHD. I do share them in my keynote presentations at conferences).

What I find really interesting as I plan and prepare for my workshops with in-service and pre-service teachers starting next week, is that I’m balancing the skills and knowledge components, with time for discussion about their beliefs and values of what music education should be.

“In music, we’re always walking hand-in-hand with technology…”

Taylor Swift (Billboard Magazine, 2019)

“We’re still in an era when people think that people have no talent if you make computer music…” Skrillex (The New York Times, 2015).

How do you respond to these two quotes? Do you agree? Comment below or on twitter/Linkedin.


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