Promising practices in 21st-century music teacher education and 21st-century musicianship through digital media and participatory culture

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You Are Here:, curriculum, digital culture, music education, pedagogy, publications, socio-cultural Issues, technologyPromising practices in 21st-century music teacher education and 21st-century musicianship through digital media and participatory culture

Tobias, E. S. (2014). 21st century musicianship through digital media and participatory culture. In M. Kaschub and J. Smith (Eds.), Promising practices in 21st century music teacher education. Oxford: Oxford University Press (pp. 205-226)

Congratulations to Michele Kaschub and Jan Smith for another excellent edited book Promising practices in 21st century music teacher education. I feel privileged to be among a set of wonderful people and great thinkers in music education, discussing potential transformation in music teacher education and schools of music. My chapter, “21st-century musicianship through digital media and participatory culture” re-imagines the undergraduate music education experience throughout a school of music. The abstract of the chapter is as follows:

Music teacher educators face a critical challenge in preparing pre-service music educators to address twenty first century cultural milieux and the evolving ways people engage with music. Two aspects of contemporary society, 1) digital media and 2) participatory culture (Jenkins, 2006), hold great potential for expanding, modifying, and potentially restructuring pre-service music education programs. Assisting pre-service music educators develop the skills, understanding, and dispositions to weave together musicianship with digital media and participatory culture necessitates an understanding of digital media’s characteristics, processes, and the cultural contexts in which they are situated. This chapter outlines and contextualizes aspects of participatory culture and five characteristics of digital media (digital, networked, interactive, hypertextual, and virtual) in terms of musical engagement, teaching, and learning with a focus on pre-service music education. The chapter provides a foundation for addressing twenty-first century musicianship, digital media, and participatory culture in existing curricular structures and through collaborative projects that span across undergraduate curricula.

To provide concrete examples of musical engagement and learning across an undergraduate program in relation to the five characteristics of digital media articulated above, I use students’ engagement with Bach Chorales as an example of what might occur in schools of music. A key aspect of the chapter is conceptualizing how aspects of digital media and participatory culture might contribute to fostering cohesion and connections across pre-service music educators’  in-school and out-of-school experiences. In other words the chapter speaks to all aspects of the undergraduate music school curriculum rather than focusing solely on a music education department. To get a sense of the chapter, here is an excerpt of one of the vignettes:


As pre-service music educators weave together their musicianship with aspects of participatory culture and digital media, they may envision and create virtual layers that connect to and mediate musical experiences. In some cases this might take the form of virtual ensembles performing Bach’s music in a similar vein to Whitacre’s virtual choir, while in other cases they might perform with others live via the Internet. Some students might wish to collaborate with experts in virtual-world building to design a video game where Bach chorales play a key role or a virtual world where one can interact with media to explore Bach’s life and music.

By leveraging aspects of digital media such as hypertext, networks, interactivity, and virtual or augmented reality, students might collaboratively develop virtual layers of information, interactive opportunities, and immersive experiences discussed throughout this chapter pertaining to Bach’s music. Pre-service music educators might imagine how interactive media and websites related to Bach chorales can function in relation to physical engagement with Bach’s music for concertgoers, students, or performers. Students might create and print QR codes linked to the digital media devised in relation to Bach’s music and apply the codes to physical media such as sheet music or concert programs, essentially augmenting or annotating the music or program as hypertext. Students might also create digital documents such as PDF files and websites containing hyperlinks to corresponding information and media related to the work. Digital representations of music might link to the same media via hyperlinks. . .

The chapter begins with three vignettes that discuss phenomena and people that/who I found compelling and inspiring: What I call the “Timbaland Steals music meme,” musician Imogen Heap’s wonderful involvement of the public in her artistic process of creating Heapsongs for the Album Sparks, and the organization Musopen‘s sharing of music for infinite possibilities. Each of the examples discussed at the beginning of the chapter filtered into my thinking about contemporary musicianship and music teacher education.

Given the nature of the chapter, I include many links to varied media that have interesting implications for music teaching and learning. Some of the references include links to:

Since writing the chapter some of the media references such as Justin.TV no longer exist or have changed; an ongoing challenge when including “current” examples in the context of media and technology.

Though the publication’s title Promising practices in 21st century music teacher education references music teacher education explicitly, it also speaks to post-secondary music programs and schools of music in general. Consider taking a look at the entire book, as it may inspire and catalyze transformative change in schools of music or support the types of changes that some are currently engaging in.

The book’s chapters are as follows:

  • Music teacher education in transition – Michele Kaschub & Janice Smith
  • Considering both curriculum and pedagogy – David A. Williams
  • Starbucks doesn’t sell hot cross buns: Embracing new priorities for pre-service music teacher preparation programs – Frank Abrahams
  • Entrepreneurial music education – Janice Smith
  • Educating teachers for 21st-century challenges: The music educator as a cultural citizen – Cathy Benedict & Patrick Schmidt
  • Juxtapositional pedagogy as an organizing principle in university music education programs – Frank Heuser
  • Where it all comes together: Student-driven project-based learning in music teacher education – Michele Kaschub
  • Inquiry and synthesis in pre-service music teacher education: A close look at cultivating self-study research – Mark Robin Campbell
  • Invoking an innovative spirit in music teacher education: Carlos R. Abril
  • What if…? A curriculum in support of technology, curiosity, and play in music teacher education – Gena R. Greher
  • 21st-century musicianship through digital media and participatory culture – Evan S. Tobias



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