Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Reality Check: A Case Study of Teacher-Candidates' Music Practicum Experiences

Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Reality Check: A Case Study of Teacher-Candidates' Music Practicum Experiences

Article excerpt

Abstract

This case study examined music teacher-candidates' views on their practicum experiences by employing Integrated Inquiry, a multiple-perspectives methodology. Participants in the study completed Currere, a visioning exercise, prior to and after their first supervised music teaching experience in the practicum. Prior to their practicum, teacher-candidates commented that the value of music in education must be more effectively communicated to the public, the local community solicited to support programs, and research utilized to explain the benefits of music instruction. To engage a larger percentage of the school population, music programs must offer a greater variety of courses and foster student input in the curricular decision-making. Music teachers must broaden their expertise and stay connected with the local professional music community. After the practicum, the candidates emphasized the importance of personal adaptation to the classroom context. They realized that each class is unique, and they had to develop more effective ways of teaching and motivating students if they were going to create a vibrant music program for their school. Such a program would be inclusive, promote diversity, and include popular and world musics, in addition to music of the Western tradition.

Keywords: music practicum experiences; music education value

1. The Context of Music Teacher Education

In Ontario, unlike many other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States which require music degrees, teacher-candidates in most of the faculties of education need only complete an undergraduate degree with five music courses to obtain certification to teach music in the Intermediate (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010a) and Senior (Ontario Ministry of Education 2010b) divisions (i.e., grades 7-10 and 11-12, respectively), or three music courses to teach music in the Intermediate division (grades 7-10). Consequently, many music teacher-candidates undertake supervised music teaching for the first time during their practicum in a Bachelor of Education program (B.Ed.), generally referred to as Teacher Education. For many of them, this experience can be life-changing, especially for those who have a traditional Western musical background and very little experience with popular music or world musics. The Western tradition is focused on music literacy and performing music in bands, choirs, orchestras and chamber ensembles. In contrast, the popular music that young people experience represents an oral tradition which involves group composition, improvisation, small groups, and a diversity of musical styles, such as rock (and its derivatives such as heavy metal, soft rock, etc.), folk, rhythm and blues, country and western, and more recently hip-hop and rap. Moreover, electronics is a significant component of this music with the development of synthesizers, multi-media stations, and digital sampling.

2. Methodology

This inquiry employed Integrated Inquiry (Andrews, 2008a), a multiple-perspectives methodology. This methodology involves analyzing and integrating data; that is, data collected from implementing a protocol in different time periods (e.g., Andrews, 2012, 2014), from implementing multiple protocols, qualitative and/or quantitative (e.g., Andrews, 2008b, 2010), or alternately, from using a protocol which contains inter-related qualitative and quantitative dimensions (Andrews, 2002). In this study, a single protocol was implemented in two different time periods and the data compared and integrated.

The protocol adopted in this study was Currere, a visioning exercise, which was implemented as a pre and post practicum exercise. Currere is a form of research, developed by the reconceptualist William Pinar (1975, 1980, 1988, 2000, 2004), which focuses on examining past practices, imagining an ideal future, and reconciling the two with the realities of the present. Seventeen teacher-candidates completed the visioning exercise at the outset of their teacher education program, and fifteen of them completed the exercise again after their first music practicum in the fall session of their Teacher Education program. …

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