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Title:Music at the middle: principles that guide middle level general music teachers
Author(s):Cronenberg, Stephanie S
Director of Research:Nichols, Jeananne
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bresler, Liora
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Barrett, Janet R.; Greene, Jennifer; Johnston-Parsons, Marilyn
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Curriculum and Instruction
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):General music
middle school music teachers
middle grades
middle level
middle level concept
This We Believe
democratic education
mixed methods
Abstract:This mixed methods inquiry examined the principles teachers employ when teaching middle level general music to young adolescents in the United States. In the discourse of music education, general music is often described as comprehensive music education for all students. In the language of middle level education, general music is classified as one of several "exploratory" course offerings designed to broaden young adolescent perspectives and knowledge about the world. If a simple definition of the term general music differs between the disciplines, how do music teachers working in middle schools negotiate these disciplinary boundaries? Upon what experiential influences do music teachers draw when developing middle level general music courses? Drawing on the principles of the middle level concept, particularly those articulated in This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents, this interdisciplinary study investigated the principles guiding the practices of middle level general music teachers. Using an iterative integrated mixed methods design, this inquiry was conducted in two phases: a national survey of 1,369 middle school music teacher respondents and narratives of experience of four music teachers. Both phases sought to understand the principles that guide music teachers as they design, develop, and implement their curriculum and pedagogy in middle level general music. In addition, the impact of six aspects of teachers’ lived experiences (preservice preparation, professional journals, collegial conversations, professional development, teaching experience, and personal musical engagement) on the choices made when teaching middle school general music were investigated. The survey phase found that while music teacher respondents were overwhelmingly unaware of This We Believe, these teachers often make curricular and pedagogical decisions in alignment with some principles of the middle level concept. This phase also revealed that teaching experience most influenced the decisions survey respondents made regarding their general music courses. In the second phase, stories of four teachers negotiating the ongoing dynamics of students, administration, content, and philosophical beliefs as they teach middle school general music were developed. In addition, a mixed methods analysis was conducted, integrating all forms of data collected. From this final mixed methods analysis, three dialectics emerged and were discussed using data from both phases of the inquiry. These dialectics represent three continuums of tension that challenge music teachers in the teaching of general music to young adolescents. These three tensions are: 1) the curricular emphasis on making and receiving of music, 2) teachers' understanding of middle school students as children and emerging adults, 3) teachers’ perceptions of their general music classroom as contested spaces and home places. Two implications arise from this inquiry. First, local circumstances are more germane to decisions teachers make than any universal set of principles regarding middle level general music. Second, there is a need for deeper communication between the fields of middle level education and music education in order to assist middle level music educators in negotiating daily challenges. Further research is needed to address the needs and experiences of a broader population of music educators, specifically, to investigate the influence of preservice preparation, music teacher expertise, and inservice education on the teaching of middle school general music, and develop beneficial resources for practitioners. More perspectives on the issues related to general music that surfaced during this study are important to both confirm and further complicate current understandings of middle level general music.
Issue Date:2016-04-05
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Stephanie Cronenberg
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-07-07
Date Deposited:2016-05

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