College Applied Faculty: The Disjunction of Performer, Teacher, and Educator
College applied studio teaching has been examined, evaluated, and criticized in recent decades, but it has remained in place, unchanged in most ways due to the inherent “conserving” nature of the music conservatory, or to what Schlueter refers to as an “unquestioned adherence to tradition.”1 Music teachers, music educators, and music performers overlap in their roles in the lives of music students. Teachers, educators, and performers have experience with the applied studio, as a student, for at least a sizeable portion of their own education. The applied studio clearly makes up a large part of music instruction in conservatories. Several years ago the Executive committee of the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) posted an open letter on their website2 calling for attention from higher education to the critical P-12 teacher shortage. This indicated a systemic willingness to question some of our adherence to tradition and perhaps re-examine music education, in terms of how music teachers are educated. Recently posted on the same website3 is an advisory for faculty and administrators regarding the standards for music performance, and this appears to illustrate that the applied studio is also being examined given its role in college music programs. The expectations between music performance and music education degrees are clearly delineated by NASM, and the differences are largely accepted within the profession. Jana Fallin and Paul Garrison4 have recently explored the somewhat uncomfortable differences between university-level music performance and music education with respect to the applied studio and in general. The current paper suggests a new path in response to their work.
Fallin and Garrison5 discuss “factional differences” between music performance and music education faculty, pointing to a lack of collaboration and mutual acceptance as the primary cause. They also illustrate the differences in job opportunities between performance graduates and education graduates. They recognize the “teaching or doing fallacy,” which may also be recognized in the phrase “those who can, do and those who can’t, teach.” They propose that “American higher education in music remains anchored in the European conservatory method” and they go on to make several “radical” suggestions that include evaluating performance skills honestly, reaching out in good faith, and acting inclusively rather than exclusively. The current paper will review three areas of salient inquiry into the college applied studio, (1) the nature of teaching, (2) the artist-teacher, and (3) the connective links between music education and the applied studio. It will explore some long-held beliefs about the applied studio in higher education, similar to Fallin and Garrison6 and identify the area where the most change could potentially occur in the future in order to unify performance, teaching, and educating in a new linear model. Progressive strategies for change to the applied studio will be outlined and the role of the National Association of Schools of Music’s Handbook7 will be examined. Early findings from current research will be shared to support future research initiatives.
The Performer, The Teacher, and The Educator
These three roles seem to be unavoidably woven together in the higher education applied music studio workplace. If each is deconstructed however, we see that each role is different. A performer is, by definition, the person who makes the music, the ‘music maker’ and there is no mention of being able to pass on his/her craft. A teacher is, according to the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, someone who “knows and demonstrates the content, pedagogical and professional knowledge, skills and dispositions to help all students learn.”8 A simpler definition could be “one who teaches or instructs.” An educator is similar, in that an educator is presumably “one who educates.” The new movement in regard to the term “teacher education”9 suggests that there are educators at the higher education level who are educating teachers to teach. Indeed, the existence of NCATE supports this concept.
The role of an applied performance faculty member involves performing and teaching. A simple review of the current Music Vacancy List10 or Chronicle of Higher Education Jobs lists attests to the title and the expectation for these positions—performing and teaching are required. If we accept that the role of an applied faculty member is that of performer and teacher, where does his teacher education come from? In other words, where has he learned to become a teacher? Clearly his merit as performer is largely measurable in his years in an orchestra, or the number of recordings he appears on, or in the list of expert musicians with whom he has performed, and how he plays in the recital setting. The quality of his performance is clear. How are his teaching skills measured? Conversely, the standards for becoming a music teacher in P-12 public schools are clearly laid out, defined, tested and licensed either through certification or an alternate method. However, the path for becoming an applied music teacher is less clear, less tangible, and often not supported in the current conservatory-like system in North America. In some instances the most common requirement for applied faculty is to hold a terminal degree, a Doctorate of Musical Arts, and this is a misleading notion, since this degree typically focuses on performing skills, and traditionally does not provide a great deal of teaching skills. Robert Ehler suggested in 1978 that there was a need for college applied faculty to have “particular skills and experience in the method of effective teaching,”11 yet there is no evidence that this need has been met over the past 30 years.
It is different in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe, the United Kingdom, and Australia. In these countries, musicians learn to perform at the conservatories and teachers are educated to teach in teacher schools or schools of education. There is less overlap and often there is such a literal distance between learning to become a teacher and learning to become a performer that the two often take place in different campuses or at different institutions entirely. America, while still appearing to be “anchored in the European conservatory system”12 is now in a position where music education majors learn alongside music performance majors, often with “squabbling,”13 as both goals appear to remain separate. This is the beginning of the disjunction – a performer is not necessarily a teacher, nor is he trained to become one in his training toward becoming a musician. The disjunction can be seen in the words “training” and “educating” and is reflected as such in other disciplines as well, for example, in chemical education. John Moore illustrates the difference clearly:
Training to me means a narrowly focused program that leads to high proficiency in a specific skill. It prepares a student for one particular job or activity but provides neither broad perspective nor flexibility of approach. On the other hand, education enables students to see the forest and the trees. It encourages general approaches to problem solving and inculcates ways of thinking that are productive, effective, and rewarding. An education prepares a student to deal with and solve a broad range of problems, and to choose which problems are important and which are not.14
Music performers are not noticeably often “educated” to deal with and solve pedagogical problems, nor discover which pedagogies are important and which are not, or to explore which pedagogies are efficient over ones that are inefficient.
Research about applied teaching
The applied studio has been the subject of recent examination in music education research and it can be loosely grouped into three areas. The first area reveals the nature of applied teaching, which includes investigation of instructional time, effectiveness, and music teaching behaviors and can be found in the work of Abeles, Goffi, and Levasseur15 along with others (Brand16; Kennell17; Schmidt;18 Sogin and Vallentine;19 and Kennell20). Evidence suggests that teachers use similar characteristic pedagogical strategies in their studios.
Other research that falls into this category examines teaching students how to practice, Suzuki teaching methods, perceptions of teaching, and instructional effectiveness. Leaders in this area include Barry and McArthur,21 Colprit,22 Duke,23 24 25 Duke and Simmons,26 and Madsen.27
The second area of research uses a new term, that of the “artist-teacher.” This term more accurately describes the expectations about the role of the applied teacher and research shows findings of common elements in artist-teacher lessons,28 that practice still plays a role in lessons,29 and that artist-teachers can work more collaboratively with their education colleagues than is often the case.30 The third area of research is less concrete and harder to categorize, but it includes work that actively creates links between music education and the applied studio. The work of Paul Woodford revealed that undergraduate music education majors are more concerned with their identities as performers rather than as music teachers.31 Ross Purves and his collaborators found that English undergraduate music students perceived that “teaching” meant teaching in public school, not in the applied studio.32 Kelly Parkes determined that American applied faculty have differing perceptions about teaching and grading in the applied studio, dependent on whether they had received instruction or education in grading and/or evaluation methods.33 Richard Parncutt examined the use of research for music artists34 and William Fredrickson has recently reported the perceptions of performance major undergraduates in regards to their own teaching in applied settings.35 Dawn Bennet and Andrea Stanberg illustrated the benefits of collaborative learning partnerships when performance major students in Australia reported a positive change in their attitudes towards teachers after being involved in a unit of study about teaching.36
For performance students, the skill level that needs to be acquired is very high, and there is little time in any curriculum to add more units of learning. However, it should be recognized that simply because one has been taught, one does not know how to teach effectively, one only knows what teaching is. The assumption that one can know how to teach effectively is naïve, if we compare this concept to another discipline such as dentistry. One may have had many fillings over the course of a lifetime, but a patient is certainly not ready to perform this procedure on himself or others. Marilyn Cochran-Smith concedes that “teaching is, after all, a public profession with which nearly everybody has extensive experience and about which many people have strong opinions.”37 Nevertheless, it has been recognized for over a century in North America that there are specific pedagogies that are effective in the way humans learn, and the previously discussed music-education researchers have also reported effective instructional strategies specific to the applied studio.
Performing is the content area of the applied studio, and P-12 music teachers are required to have proficiency in this area, naturally, but when a performer is asked to teach, and possesses great content area skills, how does he know what to do? He may teach the way he has been taught himself, engaging and drawing from the models he is most familiar with from his past experience. If he has good models and good experiences with previous teachers, then this is probably satisfactory, but if he has had poor or ineffective experience, how can he learn to teach more effectively? He probably knows what not to do, but is there a way to have access to teacher education? The answer is: unfortunately not in the current system. This is the widest part of the disjuncture. The current situation in higher education assures that a new applied teacher’s studio becomes a testing ground for learning to teach, and this is simply not fair to the applied faculty teacher nor to his students.
The disjuncture is widest here because not only has the pathway to becoming an applied teacher been divergent—at first being a performer and then adding the role of a teacher—but the expectation of the applied faculty job is now two-fold. The performer is expected to continue to perform at a high professional level, both regionally and nationally, but additionally should be showing results with students who may be starting from a variety of levels of skill. The applied teacher may have no real tools to move a beginning student from a low level to a more advanced one other than regular development and maturation that occurs in young adults when they become immersed in a new environment such as the university setting. Learning in the applied studio becomes a process of trial and error, when the individual learning styles, standards, and differences of most students are considered against the level of support, training, or education the applied faculty has.
The Two Paths To Higher Education Music Positions
Two distinct paths highlight the wide divide and the major disjunction present today in college music departments across the nation. The fact that they are so different is troubling because the one prevalent job requirement of every college professor in the county is to teach, unless placed in a 100% creative-research funded position or hired as a resident artist with performing duties only. The path to this position may not provide what is needed at the destination. The first path to consider and illustrate is that of the “music performer.” This individual will seek employment as a professional musician. The second path is that of “music educator.” This individual will probably become a P-12 music teacher.
While there is no single path that every performer treads, the goal is to become a professional musician. An undergraduate degree in music performance is usually undertaken. Students are involved in performing as much as possible; local ensembles, student ensembles, community groups, and any performance opportunity that presents itself. The “field experience” is music making, alone or with others. To hone high-level skills, undergraduates often move on to master’s degrees and then doctoral degree’s in the hope of winning an applied teaching job at a college or university. Many graduates work in the profession as performers, passing auditions for orchestras, making recordings, performing in professional ensembles. Some complete their education and then move straight into college applied teaching. If they have been superior performers, they may have been awarded a teaching assistantship or a stipend while in graduate school. This assistantship may or may not have given them any tangible teaching tools, but at least it provided some experience of teaching in the applied studio. The music performer path can lead many exceptional musicians into full-time professional employment as performers in ensembles, bands, and orchestras with or without teaching responsibillities.
Again, while there is no one path to becoming a P-12 teacher, traditionally this path involves an undergraduate degree in music performance or music education with or without a licensing certification. Students often undertake field experience in P-12 schools as part of this training. The graduate may then work in public schools, while becoming alternatively certified or may continue on to graduate school to be certified at the masters level. Some stay licensed at the undergraduate level and work for some time before returning to attain their master’s degrees. Some P-12 teachers undertake doctoral level work, for extended certification or if they plan to return to higher education as a teacher educator, or move into specialist, national certification, or administrative positions. Licensure evaluation, the gate-keeper of P-12 education requires that a pre-service teacher display content knowledge, pedagogical and professional knowledge, skills and dispositions in regards to their content area, in this case music, which includes performance, history, theory, aural skills, musicology, world music, general music and varied ensemble direction.
It must be noted that these are only generalized paths, and alternative individual paths are also pursued. However, the critical difference between the two paths presented here is in the experience—music educators spend time experiencing the classrooms that will become their workplace, and music performers spend time performing. Performers traditionally are not given practice at applied teaching experiences in supervised settings, where they can learn teaching strategies under the tutelage of an expert educator. The time they spend as students in an applied studio cannot suffice as training in how to teach—they are exercises in how to learn for the student while in the “student” role. Performance students sometimes may teach from a private studio at home with young high school students and they learn through trial and error. When they are exposed to teaching methodologies, pedagogy, and strategies as a “teacher,” it seems likely that they may be more effective teachers, however there is scarce evidence to support this.
A New Model
Some potential strategies for overcoming this two-path scenario involve making changes to existing curriculum and degree requirements, support from NASM, administrative support, and further research. In order to close the divide between the two paths or build a bridge between them, it is proposed that music education faculty take the initiative in sharing pedagogical tools with applied faculty and that pedagogies feature more prominently in a comprehensive manner across the music curriculum in higher education. Comprehensive musicianship is a concept both idealized and criticized in American music education yet the concept of comprehensive pedagogy will be raised and defended here for similar systemic reasons. “Comprehensive pedagogy” describes the approach required to move a student from point A to point B. Comprehensive pedagogy includes, but is not limited to, strategies such as diagnostic and formative assessment, activating prior knowledge, scaffolding, cooperative learning, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, feedback, summative assessment, student-centered learning, and goal setting. If comprehensive pedagogies were to be discussed and adopted by all music faculty, applied, historical, musicological, theoretical, and ensemble, this would provide more of a focus within both performance and education degrees, giving students more of a sense of how to teach in each of the areas (pedagogy), rather than just what to teach (content). This could, in progressive music departments, potentially occur at both undergraduate and graduate levels.
This notion is not designed to create more work for music faculty in higher education. All faculty have strategies that work and that are successful. The sharing of these strategies with students provides a structure that could enhance teaching and may better serve all musicians upon graduation. This sharing could be done at the graduate level in a variety of ways. First, a section of each course could be re-structured to show how it could be adapted for younger learners. Second, graduate students could be challenged to find ways of teaching the material they are learning back to their professor in a role-reversal scenario with class groups. Third, cooperative learning strategies could be implemented whereby a doctoral students ‘teach’ master’s students one-to-one with repertoire under the supervision of a master teacher.
At the undergraduate level, it would be helpful for students to sense a level of agreement among all faculty about teaching and learning. This is most commonly found in the format and requirements of syllabi. Students often feel uncertain about what and how they will learn when the pattern of expectations from faculty are widely diverse and disconnected. For example, if the flute professor hands out a detailed, clear syllabi for his flute studio in regard to expectations, requirements, grading and evaluation, students in the trumpet studio are concerned when they have a syllabi from their professor that is brief, unclear, and lacking explicit expectations. We know that students compare and discuss teaching strategies and it sets a largely un-sound pedagogical example to have a “horses for courses” approach between faculty in music departments. Individual differences should certainly be accounted for, however the wide disparity between applied studio professor’s approaches could be easily overcome if they would simply share, discuss, and agree upon some basic tenets in their department’s studios. The common thread needed is that professors should be transparent and similar to each other in how they will move their students from where they are to a more advanced level over the course of the semester.
The movement toward preferring or requiring that applied music faculty hold terminal degrees at the graduate level is perhaps a sign that policy makers are attempting to raise “teacher quality” in the applied studio. There are, of course, many fine applied teachers who have commensurate experience, highly desirable teacher qualities, and excellent performance skills and they simply hold a baccalaureate degree. However, Cochran-Smith points out that “education researchers, practitioners, and policymakers do not agree upon a single definition of “teacher quality”. . . some define teacher quality as student achievement, while others define it as teacher qualifications.”38 If we assume that this new expectation of holding the Doctorate of Musical Arts (DMA) is a reflection of teacher quality, the nature of the DMA should be examined from the policy maker perspective, particularly for what it promises in regards to the provision of teacher education for performers. NASM suggests the following guidelines for the Doctorate in Performance, Instrumental or Vocal Performance:
The doctoral degree program in performance emphasizes presentation in a specific performing medium. Performance competence is at the highest professional level with historical and theoretical knowledge supportive of the development of individualized interpretations. Competencies also include a broad knowledge of repertory and literature. Additional studies in pedagogy are recommended.39
I suggest that NASM requires “additional studies in pedagogy” rather than simply recommend them for applied studio teaching, as well as for larger class sizes, in the DMA programs. Future researchers may want to attempt to establish exactly how many DMA programs currently have this component explicit in their curriculum descriptions. A dialogue about pedagogical study at the doctoral level in performance degrees needs to be entered by all stakeholders.
If such additional pedagogical study were to be required, administrators would need to find support for ways for this to occur. At the graduate level, it may be easier to find space in the curriculum to place a pedagogy course, and to assign it core value. Administrators might also need to look to their wider university settings to find support for this. This is a common problem throughout higher education that is particularly visible in the literature regarding the retention of faculty. Upon hire, new applied faculty should have access to “welcome to higher education teaching” style workshops. Many faculty members, in other disciplines such as the sciences, usually must undertake some type of this instruction in their first year of college teaching. They come from clinical backgrounds and often have no teaching experience so some informal “training,” or education, is provided to them by their institution. The 'lecture-based' currently provided are inadequate for applied faculty and it is somewhat discriminatory that applied performance teachers must simply find their way into applied teaching, based only on their own experiences as a student and perhaps some teaching experience as a teaching assistant in their graduate work.
As a community of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers we all should undertake a role in changing the current dual-path approach to teaching in higher education. Fallin and Garrison40 suggest that we are not “all pulling together” and in this respect the current paper also suggests we find ways to work together to promote comprehensive pedagogy to all music students, from undergraduate to doctoral levels.
Furthermore, research agendas could examine the potential of offering pedagogical tools to applied faculty. Indeed, there is a program that offers an Ed. D. in College Teaching for simultaneously employed applied music faculty. Preliminary unpublished findings from a series of qualitative interviews (conducted and transcribed by the author in 2007) with the students enrolled in this program illustrate the benefits they perceive they are receiving. They discussed how they were able to become better teachers. Results from these interviews yielded remarkable insights. For example, one student reports “I was able to develop different strategies that hopefully helped them [my students] to be able to maneuver through a program a little bit more easily” Another states that “just learning how to teach the different things and the different strategies of teaching the different approaches was the most important, the most encouraging, the most interesting that I found.” Perhaps more importantly, the reason they decided to undertake training in pedagogical tools is illustrative of a real need, as another student articulated:
the thing that sort of made me decide something like this was [that] I was teaching anecdotally . . . all from experience, working really hard to get an applied job and spend a career doing it yet having no training doing 75 or 80 percent of my job, it sort of became a common sense issue, go get training, learn how to do this because you’ve spent six years performing . . . it just sort of makes sense.
The potential for change is also evident, in that once pedagogy knowledge is attained, it is shared, as one student explained: “It gave me even more strategies to implement what I think helps the students and so that’s how the program has helped me and how I use it and share it with my colleagues.”
Research into this area is new, largely qualitative, and mostly unpublished at this stage; however, experimental research is needed to help understand whether applied faculty have a generalized need, on a national level, for help with teaching pedagogies or if they would respond to teacher education as part of faculty development. Such research should be undertaken in the near future.
The disjunction between performers, teachers, and educators occurs in the educational journey to these positions; not in the job descriptions or job destinations. While linking the two paths with comprehensive pedagogy may be a sensitive and difficult one, the journey of most musicians to become teachers, at some point in their career, is important and should be recognized. Tools for teaching well will serve individual performers, as well as keep music teaching and learning as a high quality endeavor for both students and teachers. Music educators can share their knowledge and researchers can illustrate the needs of applied faculty in concrete and significant ways in the immediate future.
Abeles, Harold., Jeanne Goffi, and Susan Levasseur. “The Components of Effective Applied Studio Instruction.” The Quarterly Journal of Music Teaching and Learning 3 no. 2 (1992): 17-23.
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Cochran-Smith, Marilyn. Policy, Practice, and Politics in Teacher Education. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2006.
Colprit, Elaine J. “Observation and Analysis of Suzuki String Teaching.” Journal of Research in Music Education 48 no. 3 (2000): 206-221.
Duke, Robert A. “Observation of Applied Music Instruction: The Perception of Trained and Untrained Observers.” In Application of Research in Music Behavior, edited by Clifford K. Madsen and Carol A. Prickett. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1987.
_____. “Teacher and Student Behavior in Suzuki String Lessons: Results from the International Research Symposium on Talent Education.” Journal of Research in Music Education 47 (1999): 293-307.
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Fallin, Jana R., and Paul K. Garrison. “Answering NASM’s Challenge: Are We All Pulling Together?” Music Educators Journal 91 no. 4 (2005): 45-49.
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Preparation in the 21st Century, at Columbia University, New York.
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Dr. Kelly Parkes is a tenured associate professor of education specializing in Music Education. She earned a Ph.D. in Music Education/Instrumental Pedagogy from the University of Miami, FL. To date she has authored or coauthored over 20 journal articles and refereed proceedings publications. She has also contributed greatly to the field by presenting at more than 40 regional, national, and international conferences. Dr. Parkes’ current areas of research are focused in higher education pedagogy, assessment in applied music, and music teacher education. She has been the PI on such grants as the NAfME SRME Research Project Grant 2012, and at her institution, the CIDER Instructional Enhancement Grant, the Virginia Tech Assessment Education Grant, and two Core Competency Assessment Grants with the Office of Academic Assessment at Virginia Tech. As program area leader for Music Teacher Certification within the Department of Teaching and Learning in the School of Education, she focuses her teaching efforts on the pedagogy of music educators. In addition to being actively involved in research and teaching, Dr. Parkes engages in professional service activities. She is the Chair of the Society for Research in Music Education's Assessment Special Research Interest Group and she is the permanent Chair of all competitions, as well as the Research Room, for the International Trumpet Guild.