Academic journal article Research and Issues in Music Education (RIME)

Rockin' around the Clock: An Exploratory Study of Music Teachers' Personal Listening Choices

Academic journal article Research and Issues in Music Education (RIME)

Rockin' around the Clock: An Exploratory Study of Music Teachers' Personal Listening Choices

Article excerpt

Introduction

For music teachers, contact with music is a total embrace. Described as "surround sound" by Shehan-Campbell (2005), music teachers immerse themselves in music daily within their classrooms; many also practice and perform music in after-school endeavors. As a field that for many teachers serves as both vocation (employment) and avocation (an activity done as a hobby rather than a job), music has a way of permeating all aspects of a musician's life. With all this career-related music exposure, it stands to reason that some "off-duty" listening may also be career-related: preparation of scores for rehearsal or exploration of new music for classroom use, for example. But because music can be a source of pleasure in addition to a career, music teachers' listening choices may serve other purposes. Perhaps music teachers choose music as a sort of "antidote" to their career-oriented music exposure: a way to unwind and leave the work day behind. Or maybe the music chosen for personal listening still relates to teachers' jobs-with interest in a musical genre leading them to their chosen teaching situation. For still other teachers, even silence may be preferable to additional music listening after work.

Of additional interest are the music acquisition pathways of music teachers. Although many teachers teach and perform music written in the distant past, using traditional acoustic instruments, technology outside the rehearsal room marches forward. Teachers and their students frequently straddle two realities: one world in which many voices combine to balance, blend, and shape musical ideas, and a second contrasting one where music can be purchased and consumed with a touch of a button. How much do music teachers participate in music streaming, downloading, and other modern methods of consumption-and are these methods of acquiring music supplanting more traditional approaches such as attending recitals and concerts?

Preference can be defined as "an act of choosing, esteeming, or giving advantage to one thing over another" (Price, 1986, p. 154). For example, a person could have a preference for Coke over Pepsi, or chocolate ice cream over vanilla. These preferences are also unlikely to change by gaining knowledge or education about the item (Cutietta, 1992): a tour of the Pepsi bottling company factory complete with a history of Pepsi, while interesting, is unlikely to sway a die-hard Coke drinker away from her soda of choice. Similarly, a person's musical preference, their act of choosing to which music they listen, is a personal decision that cannot be taught. Instead, preferences appear to be the result of a complex network of influences (Finnas, 1989) such as the listener's current affective state, complexity of the music, situational factors, quality of the performance, and the listener's age, sex, or ethnic group (LeBlanc, 1980).

In the past several decades, music listening preferences have been a common subject for researchers. Studies regarding listening preferences of students of different ages and levels of musical training, for example, are common. Musical preferences can be measured through both verbal means such as stating a choice, or behavioral or operant means: actions such as concert attendance and purchases of recordings (Cutietta, 1992). Geringer (1982) found that popular music was preferred by both elementary children and college-age education majors, while music majors preferred classical music. Numerous other studies also support the assertion that music majors enjoy "classical" or Western art music more than their non-musician counterparts (Geringer & McManus, 1979; Price & Yarbrough, 1987; Brittin, 1995). To explain this finding, North and Hargreaves (1995b) point to Berlyne's 1971 theory regarding music complexity and preference: they argue that "the minds of musically trained people are more habituated to musically-evoked arousal than are the minds of others," predisposing trained musicians toward more complex musical styles such as art music. …

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