Academic journal article MEIEA Journal

An Entrepreneurial Music Industry Education in Secondary Schooling: The Emerging Professional Learning Model

Academic journal article MEIEA Journal

An Entrepreneurial Music Industry Education in Secondary Schooling: The Emerging Professional Learning Model

Article excerpt


Youth Music Industries (YMI) is a business venture co-created by myself, as teacher-researcher, and my high school students. The venture was established to create a learning environment that would equip students with the knowledge and skills required for successful participation in the music industry. YMI is an innovative and complex pedagogical setting where the students are invited and supported to run their own youth music organization. The study responds to arts policies within both the Austra- lian and United Kingdom creative industries sectors that acknowledge that the future of their sectors depends on nurturing the next generation of art and cultural workers, producers, managers, and creative entrepreneurs.

While young people might be more educated than ever before, the world before them is much more complex, the risks are higher, and there are fewer secure landmarks. Barrington-Leach et al. (2007) acknowledge that life decisions are more complex than in the past, that they require skills as well as knowledge, and that these skills will be acquired through investment in one's human and social capital. Arguably, schools as learning environments are not well equipped to support these shifting requirements of passage. Freire (1968, 2000) likened the education system to a bank, viewing the passive student as an empty account to be filled by the teacher. Forty years later, Siemens (2005, 9) makes the same critique, observing that, "our institutions are primarily set up to fill learners." This paper explores a different approach to knowledge building that foregrounds the process of learning, rather than the product.

A conventional didactic curriculum determines and packages a specific body of knowledge to be assessed, and syllabi are typically not revised frequently enough to keep pace with the "half-life" of knowledge (Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder 2002, 6). This has implications for the relevance and currency of the knowledge being imparted. For example, the international music curriculum chosen by the school where I conducted this research, emphasizes a strong tradition of Western art music, requiring an extensive accumulation of disciplinary knowledge. Students are assessed through a lengthy external written examination, a solo performance, and a composition folio. While not to downplay the importance of formal music education in the development of musicianship, I argue the need for a broader, more relevant suite of skills and knowledge development that aligns with the music industry in particular, and with the creative industries more generally.

The learning design developed in this study seeks to challenge the conventional music curriculum, and acknowledges that we need to establish a more creative and entrepreneurial curriculum that encourages problem-solving, risk-taking, innovation and flexibility. The research does not focus on the teaching of music, but rather on the development of a young person's capacity to work collaboratively, flexibly, and with an entrepreneurial mindset (Ireland, Hitt, and Sirmon 2003; Haynie et al. 2010; Kriewall and Mekemson 2010).

Literature Review

In Australia, the music industry has been described as being twotiered (Ninan, Hearn, and Oakley 2004). The first tier represents the major record label business model. This tier deals with commercially successful artists who attract significant sales. The second tier involves predominantly independent music activity. This grassroots industry largely consists of independent musicians, sound engineers, and producers, and creates value through networking and creative entrepreneurialism.

Second-tier musicians are able to sell their work independently of the major labels, and opportunities for financial gain have opened up due to "Do it Yourself (DIY) technology" (Cox et al. 2004, 4). This technology makes it easier for new, emerging artists and bands to record their own albums in low-cost home studios. …

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