Music Education Research

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.

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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.

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.

April 18, 2009

Lessons from Joseph Maddy

Filed under: Historical Research, Technology Based Music Instruction — Rick Dammers @ 1:42 pm

One of the many things that I enjoy about music education research (and music education in general) is a sense of community –  knowing the authors.  Sometimes, I feel a connection to an author after reading several of his/her works, but in this case, an article in the April 2009 JRME was authored by friend and fellow U of I alum, Phil Hash. I took particular interest in Phil’s historical study of the National High School Orchestra (founded by Joesph Maddy). In his music education text, Richard Colwell discusses the NHSO as positive factor in the establishment of our performance music programs in U.S. public schools.  I believe that technology-based music education may be at a similar early point as school bands and orchestras were in the  1920s and 30s, so I have been wondering what lessons we can learn from Joseph Maddy.

Phil’s article provides a vivid picture of this formative time for school bands and orchestras.  It is clear that Maddy’s sense of showmanship and marketing changed public awareness of music education.  While the NHSO can be considered a success from the response to its performances and its important role in establishing the camp that later became Interlochen, Phil shows that the NHSO was not without critics, and that despite Maddy’s efforts, the number of school orchestras actually decreased, during and following the NHSO’s life from 1926-1938.  A question that comes to mind, which is probably difficult to answer is, ‘to what extent did Maddy’s advocacy efforts for orchestra’s translate into support for instrumental music in general?’

While it may be hard to quantify the exact advocacy impact of the NHSO, I think that it holds three lessons for the technology based music education movement.

1. Surprise factor:  Audiences were shocked by the performances of the NHSO because conventional wisdom held that children couldn’t do this.  In establishing technology based music instruction, we should highlight student work that similarly contradicts conventional expectations.

2. Targeted advocacy:  The second performance of NHSO was for a school administrators’ conference, seemingly to great effect. Phil suggests that the ASCDA of today is a good audience for music educators to address. That is especially true for technology-based music instruction.

3. Identity: While not a specific lesson of the NHSO, it occurs to me that bands, choirs, and orchestras have been established in our schools in part because of their sense of community, identity, and common practice.  I believe it is possible to establish a fourth track in our secondary schools, where technology is the glue that provides  cohesion. But that is another post…..

Good historical research should have implications for the present.  This article certainly does.

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