Conference Summary

The 2019 Conversation on Music Education

Revisiting Vision 2020:
Issues of Concern in American Music Education

Saturday, October 26th
Boston University College of Fine Arts

Summaries of the forums appear below. Click on the links to view videorecordings of the proceedings (coming soon)

Program PDF

Opening Session
Hosts: Diana Dansereau and Ron Kos
Music Making: John Bragle
Keynote Address: Deborah Bradley

Forum on Gender and Sexuality
Host: Karin Hendricks
Panelists: Megan Foley, Allison Russo, Amanda Tumbleson
Women and girls are traditionally underrepresented and/or marginalized in certain music roles that are socially gendered as “male,” such as in the case of jazz instrumentalists and band directors. In this session we discuss various ways in which gender association and bias affect women in music performing roles. Three panelists will cover themes including (a) identity negotiation; (b) social pressure and gender bias, including microaggressions, gender stereotypes, the niceness policy, differences in personality types, and disallowance of mediocrity; (d) career choices; (e) reimagining the position of the band director; and (f) the phenomenon of all-girls jazz ensembles. We conclude the session with a consideration of queer perspectives, to reimagine what socialization in music performance might look like without the narrowing or binary definitions of gender.

Forum on Lifelong & Lifewide Learning
Host: Andrew Goodrich
Panelists: Emma Chrisman, Hannah Hooven, Sab Scotti
The terms lifelong and lifewide learning are often used interchangeably to portray music making across the lifespan. Each term, however, embodies distinct ways with how children through adults engage in music making. This session begins with an overview of these terms framed within a discussion of learning vs. participation. Three presenters will then explore how students engage in musical activities that instill a desire for lifelong participation in music. Following the presentations, we will delve into a discussion of how music teachers can present music making opportunities to promote lifelong involvement for all students, contextualized within the three key questions posed by the conference.

Forum on Democratic Education
Host: Ruth Debrot
Panelists: Allyn Phelps, Yaron Sarch, Jarritt Sheel, Tom Westmoreland
Helping students develop individual autonomy and musical independence suggests that music education should involve practices that move beyond merely allowing students to choose repertoire or concert attire. Democracy suggests that teachers and students share responsibility for the teaching and learning that transpires in the classroom (Debrot, 2016). Democracy requires a humane, empathetic, compassionate, and inclusive approach to pedagogical practice (Hendricks, 2018). However, autocratic educational models continue to prevail in music teacher education and public-school music education programs (Woodford, 2005). Although Tanglewood I (1967) and Tanglewood II (2005) culminated in declarations that outlined democratic goals and objectives for music educators, there remains a lack of common understanding regarding what democratic pedagogy in music education means and how it looks. This session will focus on philosophical and practical issues in democratic music education.

Forum on Cultural Diversity
Host: Paula Grissom
Panelists: Deborah Bradley, Kendall Driscoll, Jacob Wittkopp
The United States of America is well on its way to becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. In fact, the Department of Education projects public schools will be majority-minority. So, what is being done in music classrooms to address this phenomenon? The Conversation Forum on Cultural Diversity will continue the ongoing discussion of the importance of effective teaching and learning music in a culturally responsive environment. In addition to examining the challenges of understanding and addressing the complex, cultural identifies of today’s students, this forum will also discuss strategies and activities that reflect a culturally rich and varied music classroom. Attendees will be encouraged to examine their roles as music educators in a culturally diverse world, and how they can transform their teaching and learning environments into inclusive music-making communities.

Forum on Poverty and Displacement
Host: Kinh Vu
Panelists: Maya Ginsberg, Hailey Hart-Thompson, Eleanor Ho, Hannah Hooven, Jordan Stern, Tricia Tunstall
Music educators have great potential to make space and place for voices of many kinds where there might be little or no opportunity to participate in collective music making. In this session, presenters will draw attention to issues of access and equity via music education’s intersection with poverty and displacement issues. Attendees will learn about and discuss five contemporary topics: (1) power and politics of El Sistema as a global phenomenon; (2) Voices of Our City Choir, a singing group comprised of people experiencing homelessness in San Diego; (3) the prosocial potential of music as it unfolds for and by children in a Rishikesh, India care center; (4) the high prices and sacrifices of constructing powerhouse marching bands in Texas; and (5) the crossroads of music education with forced human migration.

Forum on the Relevance of Music Curricula
Hosts: Warren Gramm and Dana Monteiro
Panelists: Erin Bruce, Sam deSoto, Sarah Fard, Corianna Moffatt, Denise Taylor
The forum will discuss the relevancy of music education curricula. Panelists for this session will present research, findings, and thoughts that consider various barriers for music learning and music-making. These studies and presenters will examine the role of teacher training programs in preparing educators for work with special needs students, present the findings of research on a collaborative music project between epilepsy patients and artistic mentors, discuss the highly inclusive and student-centered approaches to music education, and consider the importance and relevance of standard music notation. Following the presentation of research and opinions, the panelists will engage in a discussion on the relevancy of current curricula and practices, and will consider the potential barriers and challenges created by current curricula. This discussion will consider the following questions: How can music curricula meet students’ needs, challenges and interests? How adaptable should music educators be to meet these challenges? How could a new and expanded view of music curricula impact the evolution of music education?

Closing Session
Music Making: John Bragle
Closing Remarks: Diana Dansereau and Ron Kos