Music Education Research

September 16, 2013

Supporting Data for “Predictors of Successful Integration of Technology into Music Teaching”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rick Dammers @ 10:26 pm

The data below accompanies an article entitled “Predictors of Successful Integration of Technology into Music Teaching”, which is under review by the Journal of Technology and Music Learning.

Appendix A – Survey

Appendix B – Survey Item 4 Responses

  Daily A Few Times a Week A Few Times a Month Less Than Once a Month Never
I use technology to prepare materials for class (away from students). 0 3 16 31 65
I use technology to communicate with parents. 2 11 30 34 38
I use technology to lead classroom activities. 5 8 20 31 51
My students use computers for musical activities. 39 29 17 19 10
My students use technology outside of class for class-related purposes. 24 30 28 21 11



November 18, 2012

Technology in Music Teacher Education- Part II

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Rick Dammers @ 1:13 pm

At the recent 2012 ATMI/CMS Conference in San Diego, William Bauer (Case Western Reserve University) and I presented the results of a national survey (US) that explored the use of technology in music teacher education programs. This has been a fun project which I think clarifies and updates our understanding of this aspect of music teacher education. I’ll share a few highlights here, the presentation slides are available at, and a full write up will be available in the future.

Half of the NASM (National Association of Schools of Music) schools with music education programs (n=250) were randomly selected. A faculty member from each of these programs were invited to complete an online survey. We received 89 responses (36%) after four rounds of email invitations were sent. The survey addressed four research questions: 1.What curricular configurations are being used to address technology?; 2.What is technology’s role  in music education curriculums?; 3.To what extent are students prepared to integrate technology in their teaching?; and 4.What are the constraints upon teaching pre-service teachers about technology ?

Here are the highlights of what we found:

1.What curricular configurations are being used to address technology?

We found that 70% had one or more stand alone technology classes (47% music tech, 37% music ed tech, 13% ed tech) and that 77% of programs integrated technology elsewhere in the curriculum. This represents an increase from the 2002 Price and Pan study the found that 30% of music programs (in the southeastern US) required music ed tech classes.  However, Kliener et. al. found that teacher education programs (not specific to music) had both more programs with dedicated tech courses (85%) and integration (93%)

2.What is technology’s role  in music education curriculums?

Using Mishra and Kohler’s TPACK model, we found that areas involving pedagogy and content were more thoroughly addressed than areas involving technology.  The general content knowledge score was lower than might be expected, as composition and improvisation were not viewed as being thoroughly addressed. Also, technology knowledge scored higher than areas involving both technology and content and/or pedagogy.

3.To what extent are students prepared to integrate technology in their teaching?

The respondents were asked to indicate on 1-5 scale the level of preparedness of their students to integrate technology.  The mean score for integrated current technology was 3.24, indicating a intermediate level of preparation.  The score dropped a bit for future technology (2.99) and even more for teaching a technology-based music course (2.67). The last score does raise the question of who will replace the late career teachers, who have created the majority of technology-based music classes and are now nearing retirement?

4.What are the constraints upon teaching pre-service teachers about technology?

The constraints were not surprising. Two rose to the top: 1.) limitations of time and credits in the curriculum and 2.) funding.  Other constraints, mentioned to a lesser extent, included lack of faculty expertise, difficulty in keeping up with technology, and the lack of consistent tech resources/usage in field placements.

General conclusions.

The data in our study shows that while technology has been become more prevalent in the music teacher education curriculum, but not to the extent that it is in teacher education in general.  The divergent range of comments, coupled with the data shared above, seems to indicate that the music teacher education could benefit from sustained focused discussion and learning opportunities to maximize effective utilization of technology in our pedagogy.

Special thanks go to Rowan University undergraduate research assistants Matt Ercolani and Marissa Truglio for their help in developing the email contact list used in this study!


Dammers, R., and Bauer, W. (2012). Music technology in music teacher education: A national survey. Presentation at ATMI/CMS 2012, San Diego, CA.

Kleiner, B., Thomas, N., & Lewis, L. (2007). Educational technology in teacher education program for licensure (NCES 2008-040). National Center for Educational Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education: Washington, D.C.

Price, H. and Pan, K. (2002). A survey of music education technology at colleges in the southeastern USA. Journal of Technology in Music Learning, (1). 55-66.

November 1, 2012

Technology in Music Teacher Education

Filed under: Teacher Education, Technology Based Music Instruction — Tags: , — Rick Dammers @ 11:39 am

It feels good to be returning to this blog!  The arrival of twin daughters and assuming the post of department chair put new demands on my schedule. However, I’ve found that I’ve missed this process of reflecting on research through blogging and I’ve been pleased to see that this blog still attracts regular traffic, so I’m adding blogging back to my schedule.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the role of  technology in music teacher education. I’m working with Bill Bauer of Case Western Reserve University on a national survey on this subject. We’ll be presenting the results of our survey at the ATMI/CMS conference later this month.

So prior to our current study, what do we know about the role of technology in music teacher education?  This topic received a flurry of attention just over a decade ago, when the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) added a technology standard.  In perhaps the most direct published study, Price and Pan (2002) surveyed  69 music education programs in the southeastern United States. They found that 39% of these programs had a music technology class for music education majors, and that 30% had a required music education technology course. With the benefit of a historical perspective, it is fun to see that the top topics taught in these courses were 1. notation, 2. MIDI, 3. Internet, 4. sequencer, 5. hardware, and 6. software.  At that time 63% of these schools were planning on expanding the role of music technology in their curriculum. However, 55% cited lack of personnel and financial resources and 40% cited lack of training as inhibiting their efforts.

Looking at the role of technology in teacher education in general also provides helpful information.  Kliener et. al. (2007) conducted a survey of all of the initial teacher licensure programs in the United States through the National Center for Education Statistics – NCES. (It turns out that being associated with Title IV funding really boosts your survey response rate – they received 95% back!)  Fifty-one percent of the responding schools had three or four credit stand alone technology courses, while 34% had one or two credit courses. Ninety three percent of the respondents reported addressing technology in methods courses, 79% reported addressing technology in field experiences, and 71% reported addressing technology in content courses.  When addressing outcomes, 67% agreed strongly, and 32% agreed somewhat that their graduates possessed the needed to skills to integrate technology into their classroom instruction.

Kleiner et. al.  found that all programs addressed technology to some extent, and that 88% taught using technology to assess student achievement regarding state standards,  82% addressed using technology for digital portfolios, 79% addressed using technology to assess and evaluation student progress, and 52% addressed the use of technology for distance learning.

The recent removal of the NASM music technology standard has sparked a number of  recent studies and discussions.  At the 2011 ATMI/CMS, David B. Williams and Peter Webster presented the results of survey which focused on identifying music technology competencies in music programs (not specific to music education) based upon music faculty responses.  The top eight competencies were: 1. Use a notation program; 2. Record and mix a performance with digital audio; 3. Understand copyright and fair use; 4. Burn a CD or DVD; 5. Edit digital audio; 6. Basic understanding of acoustics and audiology; 7. Use presentation software and connect to projector or smartboard; 8. Set up a computer music workstation and troubleshoot problems. It is interesting to note that more competencies were rated highly for music education/therapy majors than any other music major. I’m looking forward to hearing the results of David and Peter’s follow-up survey at ATMI/CMS, which will examine at how these competencies are being addressed in the music curriculum.

Based on these studies, and your knowledge of technology in music teacher education, what do you think that we will find in our study?  I’d be curious to hear your predictions!

Kleiner, B., Thomas, N., & Lewis, L. (2007). Educational technology in teacher education program for licensure (NCES 2008-040). National Center for Educational Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education: Washington, D.C.

Price, H. and Pan, K. (2002). A survey of music education technology at colleges in the southeastern USA. Journal of Technology in Music Learning, (1). 55-66.

Williams, D. and Webster, P. (2011). Music Technology Skills and Conceptual Understanding for Undergraduate Music Students: A National Survey. Presentation at ATMI/CMS 2011, Richmond, VA.

July 2, 2010

Online Music Lessons

Filed under: Technology Based Music Instruction — Rick Dammers @ 10:35 am

Orman, E. K. and Whitaker, J. A. (2010). Time usage during face-to-face and synchronous distance music lessons. American Journal of Distance Education, 24(2), 92-103.

This experimental study closely compares multiple aspects of applied instrumental music lessons in face-to-face and online lesson settings. Three middle school students (one saxophonist, two tubists) had lessons with a saxophone and tuba instructor respectively. Each student had a mix of face-to-face and online video lessons which were videotaped and coded for a variety of factors. When on-line lessons were compared to face to face lessons, there was a 28% increase in student playing, a 36% decrease in off-task comments by the instructor, a 28% decrease in teacher playing (modeling), and an increase in student eye contact. In the online lessons, less than 3% of the time was spent on technology issues, although audio and video quality concerns were mentioned.

I am personally interested in this study because I had conducted a similar qualitative study, which was published in 2009 in Update: Applications of Research in Music Education. The findings in both studies seem to be similar: that online applied lessons are functional and perhaps more efficient in some aspects, yet compression issues, particularly audio quality, remain a central concern. My personal conclusion is that this format is not yet ready to be a replacement for face-to-face lessons. Instead, I find this approach most exciting where it can be used to overcome issues of distance and create musical interactions where none were possible before.

April 24, 2010

Survey Update…..

Filed under: Technology Based Music Instruction — Rick Dammers @ 3:18 pm

Over the past year, I have been working on a national survey of high school technology-based music classes.  With the help of four great undergraduate research assistants at Rowan, we have contacted 10% of high schools in the United States.  The study has two parts: 1). a survey for principals that addresses whether or not the high school has a technology-based music class and the principal’s attitudes about these classes; and 2). a survey for the music technology teachers (identified in the first survey) about their classes, professional background, and students.

The first survey is basically complete (although a few more envelopes may trickle in).  After contacting the  school principals online three times and a fourth time via snail mail, 518 out of 1832 have responded – or 28.4%.  I had hoped for a higher response rate, but given the size of the sample, I have enough to examine the data with confidence.  The second survey should be complete in a few weeks, and then I can really dig into the data.  It will be fun to see how this set of data compares to the findings from the survey I completed in New Jersey two years ago, in which 28% of New Jersey high schools had tech-based music classes.  Any guesses what that percentage will be nationally?

The findings won’t be released until I present the study at ATMI in Minneapolis in September, but I’ll hint that the attitudes toward technology-based music classes are interesting.

March 14, 2010

When to Begin Instrumental Music Instruction

Filed under: Band — Rick Dammers @ 2:44 pm

Hartley, L.A., &  Porter, A. M. (2009). The influence of beginning instructional grade on string student enrollment, retention, and music performance. Journal of Research in Music Education, (54)4, 370-384.

Linda Hartley and Ann Porter examined how the starting grade level (fourth, fifth, or sixth) in string programs in Ohio affected recruitment, retention, and performance. Recruitment and retention were addressed through a survey of string teachers in Ohio.  Thirty-one percent (172 teachers) responded to questions about starting grade and enrollment. The responses indicated that starting grade level made no difference in recruitment, and that retention improved for programs with a later start.

In order to examine the effect upon performance, the authors visited and recorded 22 middle school orchestras (at a median seventh grade level) toward the end of the school year.  The recordings were then evaluated by three judges utilizing a festival-style rating system. The starting grade level did not have a statistically significant impact upon the judges ratings. In other words, orchestras that began in instruction in sixth grade performed as well as those that began in fourth or fifth grade.

This study raises interesting questions, particularly for music teachers in my part of the world (New Jersey) where instrumental instruction typically follows an early grade, pull-out lesson approach with less frequent class meetings.  While the impact of frequency is not addressed directly in this study, one wonders if students would be better served by waiting to begin instruction when more frequent (optimally daily) instruction is possible.  Another aspect that needs to be explored is the trade-off between less-frequent small group instruction vs.  daily large group instruction.

Anecdotally, my sense is that we are not getting our ‘bang for our buck’ from the pull-out lesson approach.  This study is helpful in illustrating that alternative approaches to beginning instruction may be equivalent at worst, and an improvement at best.

December 31, 2009

Musical Study and Style Preferences

Filed under: Band, Popular Music — Rick Dammers @ 9:35 pm

Ginocchio J. (2009). The effects of different amounts and types of music training on music style preference. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, (182) 7-17.

Adding to an extensive body of research on musical preference, Ginocchio examines the effect of length and kind of music study on student preferences.  One hundred-seventy six collegiate music appreciation students were surveyed on their history of studying music, and were asked to rate their level of preference for 20 short musical excerpts representing 12 different styles of music, covering popular and non-popular styles Generally speaking, more years of music study correlated with higher levels of appreciation of non-popular (jazz and classical) styles.

Interestingly, there were differences in preference levels between types of musical study (band, choir or piano).  Generally speaking, band students displayed increased levels of preference for non-popular music (including vocal classical music) while choir and piano students did not. Since the students who studied music are, to some extent, a self-selecting population, this study can not prove these courses as the cause of increasing student appreciation of jazz and classical music – it can only  demonstrate a correlation. (In other words, it is possible that the students who choose and stay in band are pre-disposed to like non-popular styles of music, resulting in the higher correlation).  Still, it is interesting to consider the broader outcomes of our performance classes, including the effect of band and choir upon later music listening habits.

Hopefully, all music instruction deepens students’ musical experiences and broadens their access to multiple musical styles.  It is my hope that technology-based music classes may be particularly effective in meeting this objective. As these classes become increasingly common, their effect upon students’ musical style preferences should be examined, as well as further studies on the effect of performance-based classes.

October 21, 2009

Music Education and Boys

Filed under: Technology Based Music Instruction, Uncategorized — Rick Dammers @ 4:48 pm

Power, A. (2008). What motivates and engages boys in music education? Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, (175), 85-102.
This article, part of larger study of at-risk boys in Australian schools, provides an interesting window into schools from another part of the world. Male-only music classes from two schools (one primary, one secondary) are profiled. In both cases, these gender specific classes were found to be effective in allowing at-risk boys to engage in music activities, as well as improving their overall engagement and belonging in their school.

This finding raises interesting questions for technology-based music classes designed to reach non-traditional music students in the United States. First, is ‘the other 80%’ (students not in band, choir, or orchestra) evenly split split by gender? Even if it is evenly balanced, is it possible that high level of male enrollment in the typical music technology class could be a benefit in reaching ‘the other 80%’? I’ve always considered the gender gap in music technology as a concern, and I still do. However, it is interesting to consider the issue as a strength for technology-based music classes.

September 13, 2009

No Child Left Behind and Music Education

Filed under: Policy — Rick Dammers @ 11:08 am

Gerrity, K. W. (2009). No Child Left Behind: Determining the impact of policy on music education in Ohio. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, (179), 79-93.

Kevin Gerrity, in his survey of principals of Ohio public schools (n=179), found that these principals had a generally favorable attitude toward music education. However, they ranked music as less important than the subjects measured in No Child Left Behind (math, reading, social studies, science, and writing).  Combining factors including staffing, course offerings, and instructional time, Gerrity found that 43% of Ohio schools had weakened since the enactment of NCLB, while 40% held steady, and 17% had strengthened. The reduction of instructional time, primarily through the inclusion of non-music academic instruction within music classes, seemed to be the primary weakening factor.

While this study cannot attribute causality, it does present some interesting correlations that strengthen anecdotal evidence that NCLB has not been music friendly. Looking forward to upcoming discussions of merit pay for teachers, the music education community needs to be proactive in suggesting how effective music instruction be measured.  Being left out of the measurements again could further marginalize music within the school curriculum.

August 30, 2009

Choosing to Teach Music

Filed under: Teacher Education — Rick Dammers @ 8:31 am

Thornton, L. & Bergee, M. (2008). Career choice influences among music education students at majors schools of music. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education (177) 7-17.

Linda Thornton and Martin Bergee conducted an interesting survey exploring why students choose to major in music education. Their sample included 242 undergraduate students from music schools at 12 large research universities in the United States.

Participants were asked to indicate the  influences that led them to choose music education.  The results for the top influences were: influence of ‘important others’ 24%; love of music 20%; love of teaching 11%; and  participation in a musical organization 10%. These results mirrors what I see in my interviews of prospective music education students at Rowan University. While music is a central component in their decisions, the social factors play a critical role as well.

Another interesting aspect of the study explored the students’ post-college plans. The respondents’ plans included:  70%  teaching, 13% graduate school, 5% leave music, and 4% music (non-teaching). When asked how to best recruit future music teachers, the respondents’ top two suggestions were: providing opportunities to teach (18%), and demonstrations of job satisfaction (15%).

Recruiting future music teachers has been a topic of concern across the country. It is certainly an ongoing priority of NJMEA here in New Jersey.  This study points to the important role that music teachers play as our best resource for recruiting future music teachers.  As ‘important others’ and professional role models who have daily contact with potential music majors, they have a great deal of influence. Ethically, teachers need to provide counsel that is in their students’ best interest, of course. However, by accurately reflecting their job satisfaction to their students and by working to provide opportunities for peer and cadet teaching, teachers can share their excitement for music teaching and help their students make a more informed career choice.

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