Reflecting on changes in practice through integrating participatory culture in our classrooms

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Tobias, E. S., VanKlompenberg, A., & Reid, C. (2015). Reflecting on changes in practice through integrating participatory culture in our classrooms. Mountain Lake Reader: Conversations On the Study and Practice of Music Teaching, 6, 94-110.

My co-authored article with Abigail VanKlompenberg and Catherine Reid  Reflecting on Changes in Practice Through Integrating Participatory Culture in Our Classrooms is published in The Mountain Lake Reader (in varied formats thanks to the work of Janet Cape).

The article is a result of a collaboration of two music educators (at the time the article was submitted) and the Consortium for Innovation and Transformation in Music Education (CITME). It’s the type of article that works to wed theory to practice and demonstrate how theoretical frameworks can live out in teaching and learning contexts and open spaces to think expansively about what might occur in a music program. The abstract is as follows:

Thiessen and Barrett (2002) speak to the importance of music teacher education programs supporting, partnering with, and learning from reform minded educators as they “renew their practice by engaging in cycles of inquiry, action, and reflection” (p. 776). This article is the result of such a partnership and ongoing inquiry, action, and reflection. After situating ourselves, we, a music teacher educator (Evan) and two practicing music educators (Abbie and Catherine), reflect on how our classrooms and perspectives on general music have evolved in the context of digital and participatory cultures. The following two foci guide our exploration of digital and participatory cultures’ transformative potential in music education: 1) transformation in terms of the structure(s) of the music classroom and program and 2) transformation in terms of our perspectives on music teaching and learning.

Considering transformation and evolution or possible futures of music teaching and learning are recurring themes in The Mountain Lake Colloquia and Mountain Lake Reader. To reflect on potential transformation of secondary music education we look at how our own teaching and thinking were transformed through applying skills, principles, and practices related to digital culture and participatory culture.

We address aspects of digital culture and participatory culture in relation to pedagogy and curriculum by discussing the following media skills (outlined by Jenkins et al. 2009) in the context of music teaching, learning, and engagement:

  • (musical) appropriation
  • performance
  • collective intelligence
  • distributed cognition

We continually discuss the theme of how addressing digital culture and participatory culture played a role in transforming our classrooms, ranging from changing physical classroom structures to support a more student-centered paradigm to “blurring boundaries between singular musical roles or curricular offerings that are traditionally dichotomized in school music programs” (p. 104).

As Abbie describes:

These students are creative individuals capable of performing many musical roles, demonstrating a wide range of skills and abilities, and embodying what it means to be a musician from a holistic perspective.

Towards the end of the article we discuss several challenges of teaching with digital culture and participatory culture and implications for professional development and music teacher education.

The article is free, along with many others, in the Mountain Lake Reader Issue 6.

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