Expanding Secondary Music Curricula: A look at students engaging with popular music, technology, and creating original music

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Tobias, E. S. (2012). Hybrid spaces and hyphenated musicians: Secondary students’ musical engagement in a songwriting and technology course. Music Education Research, 14(3), 329-346.

A research article I wrote entitled Hybrid spaces and hyphenated musicians: Secondary students’ musical engagement in a songwriting and technology course is now available in the journal Music Education Research.

Below is the article’s abstract:

This case study investigates how secondary students (three individuals and three groups) engaged with music and acted as musicians in a Songwriting and Technology Class (STC), a course involving the creation, performance, recording and production of original music with instruments and music technology. The following research question guided the study: In what ways are students engaging with music in the STC? Findings suggest that students engaged as ‘hyphenated musician[s]’ by thinking and acting as songwriters, performers, sound engineers, recordists, mix engineers and producers in ways that were recursive and often overlapping. Students’ engagement in these roles was particular to their individual and group contexts. Music education might broaden curricular offerings and reconceptualise classrooms as hybrid spaces to address the shared and idiosyncratic ways of knowing and doing music that students encountered through each role and holistically as hyphenated musicians.

Essentially, the article articulates research findings related to students playing a range of musical roles in a Songwriting and Technology class and argues for broadening secondary music curricula in ways that expand beyond general music / specialized course / ensemble paradigms.

Drawing upon the research findings, I find two frameworks particularly helpful for music educators in broadening students’ opportunities to be musical in secondary schools: 1) hyphenated musicianship and 2) hybrid spaces. Paul Theberge uses the term hyphenated musicianship on pp. 221 – 222 of his book Any Sound You Can Imagine: Making Music/Consuming Technology  (embedded below and which I highly reccommend procuring a copy and reading! )

You may have used the notion of hyphenated musicianship when discussing your own musicianship to others. For example telling someone that you play the trumpet-create original music- analyze scores-arrange Sousa marches for your amplified banjo quintet,  rather than focusing solely on one facet of musicianship such as performing.

Both frameworks (hyphenated musicianship and hybrid spaces) along with details on the research are discussed in the article.
You might be interested in  Hybrid spaces and hyphenated musicians: Secondary students’ musical engagement in a songwriting and technology course if you are generally interested in:

  • Integrating popular music in school music programs
  • Secondary students’ musical processes when creating original music indicative of varied popular music genres
  • Expanding secondary music curricula to include new types of music classes and ensembles as well as broadening approaches towards teaching those that currently exist
  • Music classes/ensembles that incorporate vocal and instrumental performance, technology, and popular music
  • Notions of musicianship that are multifaceted (or hyphenated) in nature

If you are interested in reading the article but do not have institutional access to Music Education Research journal contact me (evan.tobias at asu.edu )  and I may be able to provide you with a copy.

Please also feel free to share any thoughts, similar experiences, or questions in the comment section below or via email.

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