Academic journal article Victorian Journal of Music Education

What Have We Learnt? Pre-Service Music Teaching and Learning

Academic journal article Victorian Journal of Music Education

What Have We Learnt? Pre-Service Music Teaching and Learning

Article excerpt

Introduction

Building school based partnerships and making links to the community is part of Deakin University's strategic plan and policy. Since 2002, music students have been taken to observe and participate in music lessons at a local primary school. This school has an official partnership with the then Faculty of Education now School of Education within the Faculty of Arts and Education as a professional development centre. At the start of each academic year, all ethical issues with the principal and music teacher regarding the Deakin visits have been addressed. During the visits, none of the music classes have been videoed, nor have the principal, music teacher or school students interviewed. In 2008, a school-based learning experience of five-weeks during a ten-week semester was arranged. Here we both had the opportunity to initially observe music teaching and share our beliefs and preparedness for music teaching and learning with the onsite music teacher. School based partnerships, also referred to in the literature as onsite or field based experiences, offer "increased relevance for students and greater accountability for colleges through participation of local school(s)" (Elmore, 1979, p. 378). During the students' observation and participation, they worked through what Bruner calls 'scaffolding' to fill in the gap between what they could do alone and what they were able to do with the support of both the music teacher and the lecturer. This provided students with onsite professional development thus enabling them to think about "expanded ways of engaging in music and in pedagogy" (Campbell & Brummett, 2007, p. 50). The old adage of 'so much to do in so little time' rings true for the postgraduate music methodology students in the Bachelor of Teaching (Primary and Secondary) degree. One effective way for university students to gain a better understanding of how students learn was for them to observe and participate at a primary school with a music teacher, as they do not always get to see good music teaching when on school placements with a specialist music teacher. Wiggins (2007) notes, "excellent teacher education programs provide students with experiences from which they can construct their own understandings of music, education, and music education" (p. 36). It may be argued that school based partnerships offer students 'hands on' opportunities to "develop an initial repertoire of teaching competencies, comprehend the various dimensions of music experience and understand student learning" (Campbell & Brummett, 2007. p. 52).

Background to the study

The study was undertaken with 10 post-graduate students in their final year of the B.Teach (Primary and Secondary) postgraduate degree. The Arts Discipline Study Three unit focuses on Primary Music Education with an emphasis on the Orff, Kodaly, Dalcroze and African music approaches. At the start of the ten-week semester students were informed that they would visit a nearby primary school for five of their tutorial/workshop times. The visits were scheduled during their university workshop/tutorial time, so it did not interfere with any other classes. The students and lecturer visited the school for a period of approximately three hours per week during the first semester of 2008. We experienced, explored and engaged with class music content and pedagogy as well as classroom management skills. The teacher at this school mainly used aspects of the Orff and Kodaly teaching approaches and often integrated ideas of Dalcroze into her lessons as well as ideas she had gained from her own professional development. For the purpose of this article, only our (the music lecturer and one music methodology student) reflections will be included in the discussion. The use of journal entries provided an effective way to reflect on 'what we have learnt' from the school partnership. The benefits from such an opportunity bridged the theory/praxis gap. …

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