What role does music have in education?

As a high school student, I desired to take difficult classes, even when I knew that my final grade wouldn’t reflect what I had actually learned that semester. So when bass playing became my passion, and classes and homework seemed to create an insurmountable challenge, I was faced with a dilemma: How could I use my performance artistry to enhance my learning in the classroom?

Although I am hardly a stranger to process-based or interactive learning methods, the way in which New England Conservatory‘s Music-In-Education program framed these concepts helped me to bring more focus to my own efforts in teaching, learning, researching, and performing. Over the course of the past two years, I participated in several opportunities to implement my ideas in schools, both public and private, domestic and abroad.

While my studies at NEC have lead me mostly towards a career as a performing artist, I have also been active as a researcher. As I will discuss throughout this portion of my website, I have been working extensively in assessment; from designing worksheets for high school Solfege students to developing rubrics on which to what extent MIE course portfolios show evidence of NBPTS music standards can be measured. At first without premeditation, I eventually settled on structuring teaching experiences so that I can research how students respond to multiple methods of teaching and learning, and how to best document the outcomes of these methods. For example, when I did my internship as a Solfege teacher at the Boston Arts Academy, I made sure that the entire experience was documented by requiring that all my students keep journals of their learning; for me, journal writing has always been a key part of any successful teaching/learning experience. (Initially, when I agreed to teach at BAA, I was more interested in the overall teaching experience, and had never anticipated being so intrigued by students’ journal entries; by the time the end of my internship came, I was also interested in teaching as a method of research).

More recently, these research interests have stayed with me throughout my student career, and have influenced me to continue my research at NEC, under the auspices of the Research Center for Learning Through Music and the Music-In-Education National Consortium. At NEC, the most viable way for me to look at the documentation of engaged learning was to review student portfolios from Solfege and Music-In-Education classes that I assist. Teachers at the Conservatory use these portfolios as another method of assessing student learning. My research, however, has led me to focus on how the same student portfolios can also act as teacher preparation tools for students who are interested in teaching; a topic completely relevant to my own life.

Upon graduating from NEC, I took a year off from my intensive music studies to attend the Arts-In-Education program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, as an Ed.M. candidate. This was a step which I certainly did not anticipate when I first enrolled in the Music-In-Education Concentration at New England Conservatory. Finally, a much needed acknowledgement goes to my mentor and Research Director Dr. Larry Scripp.

Read on, to learn more about my orientation towards education; that is, From Inquiry to Investigation.