This portfolio acts as an archive of my work in the MIE 501 class Introduction to Music in Education. Additionally, it shows my learning progression and development as an artist, teacher, and scholar. Prior to this class, I had some experience teaching private lessons in saxophone and piano and the occasional teaching of lessons and individual tutoring as a Teaching Assistant in various music theory courses.
My strategies for teaching have been largely trial and error, as well as mimicking (good) teachers I’ve had in the past. I’ve taken one MIE class previously, titled Models of Teaching in Learning; tools that I took from that MIE class have been based on models to present information to students and adjusting those to tailor to their varying needs.
Through this course, I hope to gain the following:
- A better understanding of music in education
- Knowledge of cognition
- A developed teaching philosophy or rationale
- Strength in lesson planning
- Tools for effective teaching
- Helpful experience, guidance, and criticism
Throughout this semester, I engaged in readings, discussions, projects, and presentations to develop my teaching skills and gain an understanding of how people learn and teach. Upon completion of this course, I have gained new perspectives on ideas like metacognition, flow, growth mindset, transfer, lesson planning, and multiple representations of information. I have successfully created and executed a lesson plan and have developed my rationale for music in education. Throughout this process, I have received helpful feedback from my peers and professor that have helped to mold my rationale and fine-tune my lesson plan.
The concepts that affected my learning the most were:
- Flow– An extreme and intense focus on one task or problem. Flow can be found in activities that require our full attention such as conversations with others, performance (athletic, academic, artistic), reading, etc. We can choose to increase flow by seeking out activities that require more attention or by making a conscious effort to focus our attention on any activity we are doing. The concept of flow is one that I noticed but never had a word for; in my most productive practice sessions the level of flow was high and I left feeling triumphant and pleased. Now when I practice, or am working on any necessary task, I make sure to limit/remove any distractions and find ways to throw myself into flow as quickly as possible. As part of my routine to encourage flow, I turn my phone on airplane mode and only use it for my tuner and metronome. Additionally, I section my time and work with more intention so as to not waste time and to keep me honest and focused on the difficult sections. This might sound rudimentary in theory, but in practice it has made my use of time more practical and productive. Additional discussion on the idea of flow can be found here.
- Low Road Transfer– Old behaviors or skills fit the new (unfamiliar) context well enough so that they function quite adequately. This has manifest itself most obviously through the recollection of similar contexts and issues in previously studied pieces. This is a tool my saxophone professor has used in our lessons and one that I’ve used when breaking apart a difficulty. I further discuss these ideas in my journal entry about transfer.
- Growth mindset- “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” (Dweck, 2015) Having a growth mindset has been an immense challenge for me from elementary school to the present. I have always felt extreme disappointment and have been discouraged if it takes any time at all for me to grasp something. I get very frustrated and overwhelmed when I feel like something is over my head, in part because I want so badly to succeed. I’ve been participating t in competitions since middle school and have rarely won; the times when I came out on top were largely overshadowed by my awareness of how small my school and district, and therefor competition, were. Over the past three years, however, I have made improvement towards having a growth mindset, in part because I haven’t competed in anything since two years ago, but largely because I have watched myself go from a lowly theory major to a musician that professors and ensembles have relied on. My mindset used to be very toxic; my goal was to be the best saxophonist in the world. Not to be negative, but I understand now that that goal is fairly impossible. Some of the saxophonists that I hold in such high regard are already losing their foothold to a younger generation of saxophone freaks- people with insane techniques and gymnastic abilities for the new music being composed for them. What I can do, however, is be better than I was before and appreciate that with every headache and new challenge, I’m obliterating the limitations I held before. (Also, I’ve noticed that being reliable, prepared, and on-time counts for way more than talent, so there’s that.) These ideas are further discussed in my document on growth mindset.
Concepts that will most affect my teaching:
- Flow- Educators/leaders can apply the concept of flow by being engaging, encouraging a high level of participation, and reducing distractions. Working as an educator to increase your own flow could be achieved by focusing your attention on creating a flow-centric lesson plan, collaborating and reflecting/applying other’s ideas, being passionate about the teaching topic, interacting and responding to student’s immediate feedback/participation. Ideas on implementing this concept are further discussed in my journal entry on flow.
- High Road Transfer- Deliberate mindful abstraction of skill or knowledge from one context for application in another. Educators can encourage this level of transfer by making interdisciplinary connections. I’ve included examples of these kinds of connections in my Rationale Statement.
- Growth mindset- Choose growth as an indicator of success rather than production. Students with a growth mindset take failure in stride and take pride in their personal improvement. A fixed mindset, on the other hand, can be limiting in that the student can be extremely discouraged when faced with a challenge they cannot solve immediately and will therefore avoid adversity or opportunities for growth. Some ways of implementing this: Don’t praise a child’s supposed talent or natural ability, rather, praise and encourage them for being diligent, focused, and growing over time. Praise them for tackling difficulties and using that knowledge later when facing a different problem; remind them that initial inability is not the focus. These ideas are further discussed in my document on growth mindset.
My Journey as an Artist-Teacher-Scholar
The idea of the Artist-Teacher-Scholar principle and matrix is to promote the synthesis of three practices- artist, teacher, and scholar. A personal synthesis of the three would create the most effective musical human. These ideas are further discussed in my journal entry about the ATS matrix.
The primary goal:
- Be an Artist- skilled performed, improviser, composer
- Be a Teacher- skilled instructor, leader, coach
- Be a Scholar- skilled researcher, journalist, critic
Secondary (but most important) goal:
- Find ways to meld the three.
My place in the ATS Matrix
At the beginning of the semester: I am currently a musician in the process of developing the artistry of teaching music. I have the tools and habits to be a skilled performer but I am in my infancy as a teacher. As a student of theory, I am also developing my research and analytical skills by producing scholarly work. According to the matrix I would be in the first row of artistry. I have reached the first column of teaching, in which I am a musician and mentor, but I have not reached the level of a skilled studio or classroom instructor. After this class, I would like to have strengthened where I already am and continue to develop further into the matrix, as a more confident and skilled teacher and leader.
At the end of the semester: I will always be continuing to develop my skills as a skilled musician, teacher, and scholar. Although I still feel I am at the beginning of my teaching journey, I now have the experience of four teaching assistantship positions, with another lined up, and new perspectives on educational instruction and growth. I feel as though I have gained clarity on effective teaching but I would like to continue to gain confidence with being in front of people and conveying the information I have in an impactful way. It’s been easy to not be creative in my lessons because at the collegiate level the information is the most important element, but using creativity to present that information can make it more impactful and fully comprehended. I continue to work on scholarly work in my academic classes and through the completion of my thesis. With these new perspectives and understandings, I hope to continue fine tuning my teacher skills and becoming an artist, teacher, scholar with presence, creativity, and effectiveness.
Sue Lackey - 5th Grade Teacher
- Interview a teacher (my mother-in-law) and learn everything about teaching
- Flatter my mother-in-law by showing interest in her passions
I was hoping to gain insight on the evolution of Ms. Lackey’s teaching style, her use of music in the classroom (if any), and her personal teaching philosophy, as far as her focuses and learning outcome goals.
This is my transcribed interview with Sue Lackey. Ms. Lackey is my mother-in-law and also a seasoned veteran of teaching 5th grade math, science, and social studies. I chose her for many reasons: first, I have seen her teach in person in her classroom and I really admire her teaching style; secondly, I love her as a person so I was very interested and invested personally; lastly, she has vast experience teaching and a background in music despite her non-musical subjects.
From my teacher interview with Sue Lackey I learned that the repetition of concepts through multiple representations is very important. Additionally, I noticed that she uses the strategy of making learning creative and fun, often employing music as a tool of creativity and focus. One of the most import topics she mentioned was adapting to situations and applying different teaching strategies when necessary. Although this seems like an obvious idea, switching teaching strategies requires a level of improvisation and skill. Focusing on the growth of the students requires creativity, improvisation, and reflection, all of which are applicable to the instruction of all subjects, including music.
- This is my final rationale statement. It represents my fully formed argument for the importance of music in education, effective teaching, successful learning, and the application of these concepts learned through lectures, articles and readings, guest presentations, and student lessons.
My initial rationale statement was difficult to write; I had minimal experience teaching or learning about teaching. My first draft is a series of bullet points detailing what I think music does for a student. Although I stand by this, my subsequent drafts improve and call upon the articles read in class, my teacher interview project, and the various visitor presentations and discussions in class.
This is my second draft; not much changed but I continued to add to it as we read more articles in class. The second draft is an example of my learning progression.
My third draft was a fully fleshed out document of my ideas about music in education and concepts that could create an effective and successful teacher. I also introduced some footnotes and included more examples from the articles we read in class, most importantly surrounding the ideas of transfer and growth-mindset. After this draft, I received feedback about citations and footnotes, explaining concepts in more detail for any audience (not just an MIE audience), and offering suggestions for how to implement my ideas for successful teaching.
Triple Entry Journal Responses to Readings
- This links to my reflection on an article by Alan H. Schoenfeld about the concept of Metacognition (Metacognition- cognition meaning mental process, meta meaning about itself). Metacognition is thinking about your own mental processes. This mental process involves the Arts Propel concepts of “Production, Perception, Reflection”. You produce something, whether that’s a pitch or a musical idea, you think about it (perception)- what’s the tone, was it good bad?, then you reflect on what you can do with it- how can I make it better? Metacognition and this brief example involves constant reflection and shifts in strategy.
- My reflection based on the misconceptions of talent.
- If one truly believes that “talent evolves from training and development,” how can one also claim that a gifted program “first seeks recognition of students who show potential talent” and, furthermore, create policy that states, “Any child who has musical potential deserves the opportunity to nurture this talent to its full extent”? (Scripp 2013, p. 61)
- Continuing to learn the way young children do and applying those learning techniques to adult level learning.
- “There’s a greater need for creative thinking today than ever before, and new technologies are offering new ways to help young people develop as creative thinkers.” (Resnick 2017, p. 3)
- My reflection based on the Borland article about the potential problems with gifted education programs.
- “I believe that the concept of the gifted child is logically, pragmatically, and – with respect to the consequences of its application in American education – morally untenable and that the aims of the field of gifted education would have a greater likelihood of being realized if we were to dispense with it altogether.” (Borland 2005, p.1)
Lesson Plan & Teaching Demonstration
- This is my first lesson plan in this course. Initially, I felt a little unfocused and one-dimensional with my ideas. I knew that I wanted to be creative, but I felt limited by time constraints, the large variation in interests and education of my ‘audience’, and by my own background. I knew that I couldn’t teach someone how to play a saxophone in twenty mintues because on the one hand, that’s not enough time, and on the other, that would include only one student, certainly not inducing flow for everyone. I have a background in theory so I looked to that. Again, this presented issues. The students in the class are at varying levels of their theory education; I didn’t want to bore some or overwhelm others. I did, however, notice that there wasn’t an overlap in personnel from the counterpoint class and MIE class that I assist. This led to my decision to teach a brief and introductory lesson on creating a 16th century canon.
- My first draft is relatively sparse, lacking in description, and vague. The feedback I received from the professor was to consider deeper questions such as Why is this important? How will it change students? What will it teach? These were difficult to address because I felt like I was just teaching how to write a simple canon; how philosophical can that be? I pondered this and tried to address these problems in my second draft.
- This is my second draft. In this draft, I went into more detail, describing the rules and guidelines I would teach, how I can facilitate learning and encourage questions, and listing the parameters for the class activity. I tried to address issues of ambiguity in my previous draft, while also digging deeper and considering the students perspective and growth.
- This is the handout I created for the students to use during the class activity. I wanted them to be able to use it as a guide to help them remember and apply the rules. This was also important because they wouldn’t be able to refer to the powerpoint because the screen would be moved for them to use the chalk boards.
- This is my powerpoint to act as a visual guide to my presentation.
- This is my final lesson plan. I updated it after receiving feedback from my first presentation. The final draft narrows the parameter of the class activity and removes extraneous information from my lecture portion.
MIE 501 Lesson:
Composing a 16th cent. Canon in the Style of Lassus
Reflection: This was my third or fourth time recording a lecture and it’s still painful to watch. Aside from my cringing, I did learn a lot from reviewing this video.
Positives: Having real-time feedback was helpful because it meant that I wasn’t left floundering, especially when I didn’t ask questions in a clear way. I was well prepared for my lesson and confident in the information. I had handouts, a presentation, and a class activity.
Negatives: This was painful; I’ve never had a professor sit in on a lesson of mine. Additionally, I’ve never taught people who were simultaneously instructed to judge me. The first thing I noticed was that my voice goes high and I lack presence and confidence. I went over the time allotted by ten minutes, likely because the class activity took so long. It’s difficult teaching peers.
Ways to improve: Don’t chose a topic that takes a semester to learn. If I chose this topic again, I would simplify it and set tighter parameters for the class activity (as can be seen in my final draft of the lesson plan). Avoid saying ‘um’. Avoid messing with my hands or an item in my hands (chalk). Avoid nervous laughter. Be a confident leader. Maybe avoid powerpoint; it made it seem more like a presentation than a lesson. Perhaps it would be best, if this was part of a series of lessons, to have the students look at a canon and analyze it- what are the intervals? Are there dissonances? If so, where do they occur? What elements are different from common practice period information they’ve already learned? etc. This wouldn’t be as ‘creative’ but if I encouraged the students to notice these things it would at least be engaging.
Counterpoint Review Lesson
Substitute for Lyle Davidson’s 16th cent. Counterpoint class
Reflection: I was very excited to teach this lesson. Because I often sit in on this class as Mr. Davidson teaches, and I took this class last year, I knew exactly what I wanted to cover. Because I was asked to teach this class the day of, I didn’t have time to memorize everything I wanted to cover, so I jotted down areas of concern that I’ve noticed in their canon writing. I wanted this lesson to be an in-depth review of things they should’ve known from Mr. Davidsons lectures and from reading the text.
Positives: I had a better presence in the classroom than previous times. I think because Mr. Davidson asked me to sub for him just a few hours before class, I didn’t have time to stress and overthink the lesson. Additionally, writing canons is something I really enjoy and have a lot of familiarity with.
Negatives: When a student asked me a question that I didn’t quite understand, my mind went blank. I should have asked him to rephrase the question. There were a couple questions by that same student that stressed me out, not because I didn’t know the answer but because the answers weren’t definite or ‘black and white’. I fear that if I don’t give a clear cut answer it looks like I don’t know the answer, when really I do but it’s more complicated than where the students were at in the semester and I couldn’t bring up information that the professor hadn’t already taught them.
Ways to improve: Ask for a vague question to be rephrased. Continue to work on presence in the classroom by working on my poor posture and avoiding nervous habits like messing with my hands or an object in my hands. Additionally, I noticed that there was a lot of talking when I was having individual students work at the board. I’m 99% sure the talking was not counterpoint related. I had seen Mr. Davidson use this method of participation but I’m thinking maybe it isn’t the best method because of the dissociation from the rest of the class. Another option I could have done would be to have the class split into pairs and work on a canon and problem solve together.
Student surveys on my lesson