Reflecting on the present and looking ahead: A response to Shuler

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You Are Here:, curriculum, digital culture, music education, pedagogy, policy, publications, technologyReflecting on the present and looking ahead: A response to Shuler

To Cite or Download the Article: Tobias, E. S. (2014). Reflecting on the Present and Looking Ahead: A Response to Shuler. Arts Education Policy Review, 115(1), 26-33. doi: 10.1080/10632913.2014.847356

If you do not have institutional access to Arts Education Policy Review and would like a copy of the article, contact me via email or with a note in the comment section.

My article Reflecting on the present and looking ahead: A response to Shuler is now available in Arts Education Policy Review. The article responds to and contextualizes Scott Shuler’s predictions for music and arts education as articulated in his 2001 article Music and education in the twenty-first century: A retrospective. I situate his predictions in terms of challenges and opportunities currently facing music and arts educators. I also address emerging and potential future issues and possibilities for music and arts education in relation to policy with a focus on three overarching topics as articulated in the article’s abstract:

In considering how policy work might forward arts education, it is helpful to reflect on the present state of music and arts education while looking ahead at future challenges and possibilities. This response to Shuler’s (2001) set of predictions related to music education and policy in the twenty-first century addresses such work in the following three areas: (1) technology and musical engagement; (2) media, media literacy, and media arts; and (3) curricular structures and new types of music courses. Related issues ranging from tensions between specialization and generalization in curricular design to competing discourses involving technology in education are discussed along with implications for policy work in arts education.

Throughout the article I offer vignettes that present thorny issues ranging from corporate influence on the integration of technology and curriculum in education to ways that music educators might design curricular structures that balance specialization and generalization. Technology and digital media play a prominent role throughout the article in terms of both positive and negative possibilities. I also discuss some aspects of hybridity in music teaching and learning, which is an ongoing interest of mine and aspects of potential relationships between media arts and music education. The vignettes included throughout the article are purposely open-ended in terms of whether the “predictions” are potentially positive or negative for music and arts education, educators, and students.

Here’s an excerpt of one of the vignettes to get a sense of some of the issues addressed in the article:

In 2023, Hawking High School supports several diverse ensembles and music courses that are characterized by their flexibility, hybridity, and broad range of acoustic and electric instrumentation, digital technologies, creative practices, and music. On a Tuesday in “Creative Musicianship 2,” Sarah, a member of a telematic string and digital DJ ensemble, improvises on her violin while peers in New Zealand and Spain record and process her sound. Across the room, Jake and Steph create original music for instruments they designed and then fabricated using 3D printers. Weeks later, Sarah compares her ensemble’s music with that of other composers who have modified the sound of acoustic instruments with technology. She is particularly interested in musicians who use applications to alter the sound of string instruments by filtering out certain frequencies and amplifying others. Jake and Steph explore acoustic, timbral, and material science issues related to their own and other existing instruments, assisted by their music teacher Lisa Ethelbaum and a materials scientist and physicist who are able to communicate via holographic projections.

Sarah is currently interacting with music that is displayed holographically as a visualization of sound that moves through three-dimensional space and time. The hologram also includes hyperlinks to a range of contextual information, recordings of other versions, contact information of experts who are willing to discuss the music, and annotations contributed by people from across the world. . .

I address three overarching topics regarding implications for policy: 1) technology and digital media, 2) advocacy and professional development, and 3) connecting policy, pedagogy, and curriculum. I make policy recommendations ranging from addressing the potential for ongoing compartmentalization and fragmentation across the field to making sense of developing technology and digital media along with related discourses from multiple stakeholders in terms of curriculum and the future of education.

The issue of Arts Education Policy in which this article resides also contains an article by Scott Shuler reflecting on his prior writing along with additional responses by Barbara Payne McLain providing a thorough look at Shuler’s predictions and Matthew Thibeault focusing on issues surrounding algorithms in the context of music teaching and learning. All are worth reading to consider pressing issues with potential to impact the future of music education and related policy work.

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One thought on “Reflecting on the present and looking ahead: A response to Shuler

  1. Evan, As a fellow NU grad, I’m thankful for your creative approach to music education, and enjoy your articles. In order to change the momentum of the testing movement, we need to focus on the opportunity for divergent thinking in all the art classrooms and extend our creative boundaries. The thought of inventing an electronic instrument with the help of a 3D printer is exactly what captures the attention of those who wonder about the value of arts education.

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