- The Art of Teaching Music
I have had the pleasure of reading the book manuscript, The Art of Teaching Music, by Estelle Jorgensen. The content explores a variety of ideas that are covered in the myriad of courses experienced by undergraduate students and introduces new ones that are critical to the development of musicians and prospective teachers. Some of these ideas might be alluded to or briefly discussed in methods classes, but not at the level of thoughtful detail as they are entertained and examined in the book. This level of depth would require students and teachers to discuss, dialogue, debate, and reflect over time within and across semesters and courses. I dare to suggest that some of the ideas might not be brought to students’ attention at all throughout the undergraduate experience, which is of a concern and suggests an even greater need for such a book.
My overall impression of the book is that the content and the depth of writing would serve the undergraduate students throughout their undergraduate experience and the graduate population for similar and yet different reasons. In terms of the undergraduates, there are parts of the book that would be relevant during their first year in a foundations class, second year in technique classes, third year in methods (for lack of a better word) classes, and student teaching [End Page 109] seminar experiences as they prepare to enter the profession. Utilizing a book across an undergraduate’s experience could generate interesting conversation amongst faculty members as discussions about why, how, what, and when parts of the book would be relevant would need to evolve. Some chapters could be revisited while others visited for the first time at differing places and spaces across the four years. I cannot think of another book that could be utilized in this way and thus serve the undergraduate student throughout her four-year experience and this prospect I find exciting.
The book is organized around fourteen chapters, all of which are followed by an afterward. The flow of the chapters invites the reader to examine aspects of becoming and being a music educator at various levels of growth and understanding.
The first chapter is titled “Teacher” and requires the reader to think at broader and deeper levels when discussing the notions of role and identity, self-awareness, motivation to enter the profession, and reflective practice. While reading the text, I imagined conversations that would include a comparative analysis of students’ experiences, which could in turn provide larger contexts for the topics. Such a discussion is necessary when examining aspects of being and becoming a teacher in various contexts. The notion of situatedness is highlighted when individual cases are heard and examined and compared across other cases, carefully noting what might or might not be comparable and taking that bit of analysis into consideration. Having such discussions across the four years of undergraduate life allows students to re-visit what was and is, and to speculate about what is to come. Such reflection can be just as fruitful at the graduate level. Students enter graduate school with a variety of teaching experiences and time is needed to reflect on the transition from being a teacher to being a student again. Realization of the continuum on which they travel between learner and teacher becomes apparent in that the place on the continuum shifts regardless of their present position; that is, as a student or teacher. For doctoral students, this reflection is rich as they begin to engage with undergraduate students and forge a new path as budding teachers of teachers and researchers and continue to be musicians.
Chapter Two took me to the writings of Dewey1 particularly as I read about a student-centered focus and the experience-based approach. So much of our profession has been driven by content and theories that the student has been removed from the center of the focus and thought of as peripheral. I welcome the idea of placing the students at the center of our thinking and conversations. These ideas have been articulated in...