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Reflections on the Teacher Identities in Music Education Project

Welch, G; Purves, R; Hargreaves, DJ; Marshall, N; (2010) Reflections on the Teacher Identities in Music Education Project. Action, Criticism and Theory for Music Education , 9 (2) pp. 11-32.

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Abstract

At the turn of the century, there was a widespread perception on the part of pupils, teachers, and policy makers that a "problem with school music" existed, particularly at the secondary level. It was hypothesized that one contributory factor was the perceived authenticity of "school music" in relation to "music outside school," not least because the latter was reported to be a core attribute of adolescent musical identity. The "Teacher Identities in Music Education" (TIME) project approached these issues from the point of view of the "musical identities" of two groups of professional standard musicians: (1) those who had chosen to become teachers; and (2) those who had decided against such a career option. Overall, the main findings of the TIME project concerning these two groups of participants were that the vast majority of undergraduate musicians and intending music teachers had similar qualifications and backgrounds in the Western classical performance tradition, very few had non-standard qualifications and few had performance experience of other-than-classical musical genres. The respective views of the beginning teachers of their own general effectiveness, whether as teachers or as musicians, changed very little over the period. However, their perceptions of the required skills for successful music teaching did change, increasingly emphasizing communication and interpersonal rather than musical performance skills. It would appear also that many music undergraduates were put off teaching careers because of fear of pupil behaviour and disinterest, and concerns that a lack of piano skills may make them unprepared for the role. In spite of the wide-ranging demands of contemporary music teaching, the authors conclude that the profession was still largely judged in terms of musical performance skills, and that this public perception needed to be broadened if the music teacher recruitment shortage was to be alleviated. Furthermore, the TIME data indicate that new recruits to music teaching in schools in England are likely to have a strong Western classical music background and little formal knowledge and understanding of other musical genres. This may leave them relatively underprepared musically in terms of their ability to understand and extend the musical interests and identities of their adolescent pupils. The authors suggest that Higher Education music departments should promote a more holistic view of what constitutes a musician in their undergraduate courses and provide many and varied opportunities for cross-genre collaboration, learning, shared performance and rounded performance excellence. Subsequently, initial teacher education courses should encourage similar holistic perspectives and provide appropriate encounters in schools where successful genre diversity is demonstrated and modeled. Then it may be possible to ensure that the paradox of music education--related to the ubiquity and popularity of music in society compared to the relative unpopularity of secondary school music education as a teaching career and as a majority pupil curriculum experience--is finally resolved. (Contains 8 notes.)

Type: Article
Title: Reflections on the Teacher Identities in Music Education Project
Location: Canada
Publisher version: http://act.maydaygroup.org/articles/Welch9_2.pdf
Keywords: English Secondary Schools, Music Education, Initial Teacher Education, Musical Identity, Teacher Identity
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1554938
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