Academic journal article MEIEA Journal

Best Practices in Music Industry Education

Academic journal article MEIEA Journal

Best Practices in Music Industry Education

Article excerpt

This research was funded in part by a research grant from the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association.


Almost a century ago, John Dewey (1859-1952) wrote his classic Experience and Education, in which he made a case for what we now call "hands-on learning" and suggested that students do best when their education directly relates to the world around them, and they are actively involved in the process. Many scholars have built on Dewey's work and added to the body of literature surrounding the efficacy of hands-on experiential learning. More recently and most notably, David A. Kolb's Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development underscored the importance of "learning by doing."

Dewey, Kolb, and others have written extensively about what many of us in music industry education feel we know intuitively: "learning-by-doing" is among the most effective teaching methods we have. We use hands-on learning1 in Music Industry Studies (MIS)2 all the time, from student-run record labels and music business journals, to student-run con- cert series and even nightclubs. Many of our undergraduate MIS programs require internships in the industry, a quintessential hands-on experience.3 Few of us would argue against the effectiveness of experiential learning, and many of us tell our students that it is one of the most important aspects of their education.

Surprisingly, however, there is very little data on experiential learning's efficacy in music industry education. Indeed, my research found that we have a very strong belief system that our classes and activities are working, but little hard evidence to support it.

Still, there are several studies of note. In 2005, Richard Strasser at Northeastern University conducted in-class simulations and role-playing-in other words, "real world" simulations-in a music marketing and promotions class. He concluded, "Student evaluations indicated that the simulation had a strong impact on learning and meeting the course objectives" (Strasser 2005). David Tough of Belmont University published a paper in 2012 on Robert Gagné's instructional theories, theories that were developed in perhaps the most crucial hands-on learning environment of all, fighter pilot training. Tough noted the potential for applying Gagné's ideas to teaching audio engineering, but as of that writing he had not implemented or tested their effectiveness (Tough 2012).

Students believe in the effectiveness of internships, arguably the most experiential learning activity of all. Two studies, one by Claudia McCain at Western Illinois University in 2002 and the other by Stephen Marcone at William Paterson University in 2004, found that the majority of students in both programs regard internships as their most important classes.4

My goal in this study was to continue this research; these are the questions I am endeavoring to answer:

1. What experiential opportunities are currently in use in MIS programs?

2. What are the outcomes of these experiential opportunities/classes?

3. How are successful outcomes measured or defined in MIS programs?

4. What are the most effective experiential learning methods in MIS education? In other words, what are the "best practices" in MIS education?5

5.On what do we base our measure of these practices' effectiveness? Is it hard data, anecdotal data, or something else?

Certainly, I want to add to the findings in the aforementioned studies by Strasser, Tough, McCain, and Marcone. Finally, I will close with some recommendations of my own.


I used two approaches in the study. First, I created and conducted an online survey of MEIEA (Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association) members, the vast majority of whom are working music industry education professionals.

Second, I planned a series of site visits to university programs across the United States. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.