Partnerships in Pedagogy: Community Schools of Music and You

Article excerpt

Imagine three different scenarios. A high school student is interested in studying composition, but her teacher doesn't feel comfortable teaching the subject area. A college faculty member would like his pedagogy class to observe and work with a pre-college group class, but the school does not have a preparatory program to provide the class. An independent teacher would like to learn more about setting up a group program in her studio but needs some advice. All three of these problems could be solved with one resource: A community music school program. Many teachers are unaware of the potential for collaboration right in their backyard. Let's take a look at some of those opportunities and offer a glimpse into the diversity found at community music school programs across the country.

Community schools were first established in the late 1800s and rapidly spread throughout the country as "settlement" schools. According to the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts, there are about 600 member schools of the arts nationwide. (1) That translates into about 330 of these schools operating in 380 communities in 44 states that are current members of the Guild. These schools offer not only music, but also multi-disciplinary and multicultural programs. Nearly 60 percent of Guild members have ongoing partnerships with public schools, including 84 percent that offer early childhood education programs and 50 percent that provide programming for students with special needs. Many of these programs even offer continuing pedagogy programs for teachers in the community and musicians who want to further their formal training in music.

Partnerships In Pedagogy: Advantages For College Faculty

So how can college faculty benefit from community music school programs? One of the most important partnerships that can be developed is the opportunity to interact with area musicians not generally associated with the university. As mentioned, your college or university may not have a pre-college program in place. If you are teaching a pedagogy class, it is difficult to have real-world applications of important pedagogical concepts without a pool of pre-college students to teach. The majority of students enrolled in community music schools are pre-college aged students. There may be group offerings as well, that bring together a number of students who are all the same age and level. This is an easy way for pedagogy teachers to provide quality time for their pedagogy students to interact with a large number of pre-college students.

This can also be true in the context of recreational music and the older adult student. Many community music schools offer recreational music making and support older adult learners, as well as pre-college teaching. The rising demand for these types of programs gives the pedagogy teacher and student an incredible opportunity to interact within these student demographic areas they may never get in the university setting. Developing a relationship through collaboration with a community music school can also be beneficial to the applied piano faculty. By offering master classes, workshops or piano camps, applied faculty members are able to develop a "feeder program" for their college studio recruitment. One can find some very fine musicians on the faculty of most community schools. Establishing a working relationship with these community music school programs provides a big advantage for recruiting quality students for your department or studio.

A very exciting possibility is to partner with a community music school to offer student internships. These internships can provide useful tools in educational administration, practical application of pedagogical concepts, developing interpersonal skills with other faculty and working within the school setting. Programs across the country offer this opportunity. To ensure success and relevancy of the work to the student, be certain to create a job description, written commitment agreement and evaluation process so there is a focused goal ensuring useful work. …