Music Education

benedict cathyCathy L. Benedict, University of Western Ontario
CMS Board Member for Music Education

The Music Education Advisory Council continued to build on the strategy of the mission of CMS. The Council views its own mission as one that engages in outreach throughout the entire music community through sessions and discussions situated not only under the auspices of CMS but through other conference and educative venues as well. The strength of the Music Education Advisory Council is manifest in diversity including the career representation of its members. From first college placement to late career representation the Music Education Advisory Council was poised to think through education issues from a broad spectrum, thus positioning itself to speak to multiple constituencies.

Following the previous conference and coming directly out of a conversation at one of the Music Education Advisory Council meetings, Music Education proposed another panel that was comprised of diverse representation in order to consider the issue of literacy.

Panel: Beyond Reading and Writing Music: Multiple Literacies in the University Music Program
Moderator: Betty Anne Younker
Panelists: Juan Chattah (University of Miami), David E. Myers (University of Minnesota–Twin Cities)

The purpose of this panel was to draw the attention of music teacher educators and music professors at the college level as to the assumptions made and those ways functional literacy pervades our disciplines. The panel members pursued and attempted to untangle the notion of “literacy” and what that means to and for different constituencies. While there are multiple literacies the preoccupation and even reliance on the primacy of functional literacy (reading and notating western classic music) as seen as an end-point in the formal process of schooling masks an ideology that rarely goes unexamined throughout all disciplines. We acknowledge the role of musical notation, but our goal was to push and challenge the limitations of thinking of notation as one set literacy and consider the detrimental aspects when functional literacy is favored over musical experiences that are generated from differing engagements with music.

We are also interested in addressing the issue of the term “pedagogy.” The Music Education Advisory Council plans to interrogate and explore the necessity for and differentiation between both instrument specific pedagogy and instructional pedagogy. We have found that at all levels of music making and teaching the word pedagogy has multiple meanings. These meanings are often both assumed and used interchangeably in the context of instrument specific courses, studio lessons, and even “methods” courses. In both private and classroom settings at our differing institutions when teachers speak of pedagogy they are often referring to taxonomy of skills and abilities needed in order to develop skill and technique. They are not necessarily referring to or reflecting upon how that information is conveyed. We hope at some point to be able to grapple with the ways in which the term pedagogy (and by extension methodology) is used in order to articulate how they intersect as well as models that could bridge the two so that we might better encourage future collegiate educators to explore the value of both.

Music education continues to call for focused interdisciplinary panels that serve to address critical issues. Moderated discussions that call for audience participation will bring clarity and excitement to the conference.