Developing an All-School Model for Elementary Integrative Music Learning
The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential for increasing informal music-making in elementary school culture, and create a model of such music-making. Precedence for this model can be found in the literature of ethnomusicology, educational psychology and learning theory, multicultural music education, and cultural anthropology. Literature from four distinct traditions and contexts of music-making in integrative sociocultural contexts—sub-Saharan African ngoma, and Community Music as manifested in New Orleans second lines, old-time music and dance, and summer camp music-making—was parsed with a philosophical lens to determine and assess possible areas of intersection between these four participatory cultures and North American public school culture. Each of these five areas was examined through a comprehensive review of literature to define their salient characteristics. These characteristics were sorted to determine commonalities between areas, and the zones of intersection became the basis for a speculative model of integrative music learning, featuring the inclusion of musical opportunities and interludes throughout the school day, thus taking school music beyond the confines of the music room. Instruction in music classes would still continue, enhanced in this model by supplemental learning opportunities inspired by the informal learning of traditional world musics, the participatory practice of New Orleans second line parades, old-time music and dance, and summer camp music culture. This model of integrative learning is also informed by current educational best practices such as child-centered learning, peer tutoring, experiential learning, and multicultural perspectives. It acknowledges the diversity of traditions consulted, while aiming for the unity in their seemingly disparate disciplines. Five universal characteristics were uncovered in the search for areas of intersection between North American elementary school culture, child culture, ngoma music-making, and Community Music-style music-making in New Orleans, old-time music and dance, and summer camp contexts: (a) Song; (b) play; (c) informal learning, as evidenced by oral tradition, peer tutoring, self-learning; (d) kinesthetic learning; and (e) contextualized learning, as evidenced in the sociocultural uses of music and situated learning. This model strives for the enactment of school music as a vital and integral part of daily school culture.
About the Author
Carol Reed-Jones earned her Bachelor of Music at the University of British Columbia and her Master of Music at Western Washington University. She is an adjunct music faculty member at Whatcom Community College, Bellingham, WA.