Educating Musician-Teachers for the 21st Century

Micheal Houlahan holding a laptop

In this blog post, I will explore the concept of transformational musicianship — a model that encompasses performance, production, diverse repertoires, critical thinking skills, creativity, and audience engagement. We will also discuss how transformational pedagogy complements musicianship training to equip future artists as artist-teachers.

According to our model of transformational musicianship, basic-level musicians should possess a working knowledge of various skills:

Performance Skills

Musicians should be able to perform on an instrument, sing, and conduct.

Sound and Symbol Repertoire

Musicians should be familiar with diverse musical repertoires, including folk, jazz, commercial, and classical music. This encompasses “sound music theory” and “symbol music theory.”

Analytical Skills

Musicians should be able to analyze musical repertoire from both sound and symbol perspectives.

Improvisation and Composition

Working knowledge of improvisation and composition nurtures creativity and artistic expression.

Historical and Stylistic Understanding

Musicians should understand the history and stylistic traits behind each piece of music.

Music schools and conservatories need to offer holistic teaching approaches to ensure the integration of transformational musicianship. Breaking away from traditional models that separate musicianship into theory and aural skills, a comprehensive curriculum that focuses on developing audiation skills is essential. Audiation, the ability to internally hear music, plays a vital role in performing, analyzing, improvising, and composing music.

To complement transformational musicianship, performers, composers, and music educators must develop transformational pedagogy skills. Music conservatories should provide relevant and comprehensive pedagogy classes that move beyond the teaching of instruments but should also include developing all of the other multi-dimensions of musicianship

In today’s interconnected world, musicians can go beyond the stage and impact their communities. Developing transformational musicianship and pedagogy skills equips performers to become ambassadors of music education, reaching wider audiences through online platforms, workshops, and international exchanges. Providing pre-service teachers with resources like Sound Thinking interactive materials will allow teachers to develop transformational musicianship in their students.

Expanding training and Professional Development to encompass technical proficiency, musicianship, and practical pedagogical approaches empowers musicians to fulfill their roles as artists, educators, and cultural entrepreneurs. The development of vertically aligned teaching resources such as Sound Thinking Interactive allows teachers to share their musicianship with their students so that they can enrich the lives of their students. This innovative system of

musicianship training enables musicians to perform, inspire, and educate, thereby contributing to the growth and diversity of the music industry.

In the ever-evolving music landscape, embracing a well-rounded skill set is essential for musicians to thrive. Whether it’s technical proficiency, musicianship, or pedagogical approaches, musicians need to adapt to meet the demands of their artistry, audience, and educational impact. By cultivating transformational musicianship and pedagogy, musicians can embark on multi-dimensional careers, leaving a lasting footprint in the global music community.

As we redefine musicianship in the 21st Century, a comprehensive approach is necessary to empower pre-service musicians to succeed in an interconnected world. Developing pre-service music teachers’ transformational musicianship and pedagogy allows them to become more effective teachers who can contribute to the growth and diversity of music worldwide.

Beth's Notes

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