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ERIC Number: EJ898047
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Sep
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 19
ISSN: ISSN-1545-4517
Identity in Music: Adolescents and the Music Classroom
Saunders, J. A.
Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education, v9 n2 p70-78 Sep 2010
Music teachers may feel most comfortable teaching the music they know, in the way that they were taught and in the way that they were taught to teach it. Music and the teaching of music is a strong part of their professional musical identity. Adolescents have a passionate attachment to music but insist that this must be on their terms, which may imply "other than classroom" contexts and other than "school music". Pupil ownership of specific musical genres may have the potential to make teachers feel personally uncomfortable or professionally insecure and to make pupils feel as though their personal territory has been invaded. However, the delivery of a "musical canon" may alienate some pupils and further strengthen the perception of school music as "other" thereby continuing to encourage only a minority of pupils who pursue the subject post Key Stage 3. Given this challenge, how can music teachers best create the context in which pupils can engage meaningfully with music that is both relevant and provoking and yet with sufficient space for creativity? A first step towards understanding the interplay between music in school and a pupil's ability to engage with the music classroom was to ask the pupils about their everyday experiences of the classroom setting. The research from which this article is drawn explored the ways pupils described themselves as musicians, their experiences of classroom music, the potential interplay between those experiences, and their conceptions of musical self. Case studies, following the interpretative paradigm were carried out in three different secondary schools in England. The research sought to illustrate the pupil perspective through pupil voice, in an effort to unpack the potential relationship between the experience of classroom music, musical engagement and musical identity. The author concludes that engagement in classroom music is not simply linked to musical competency. Musical competency "and" the desire to demonstrate a personal relationship with music or identity in music would seem more likely to foster engagement and through this, creative behaviours, processes and outputs. Displaying a personal relationship with music in the classroom setting involves taking risks, and pupils need the explicit support of peers and teachers in order to achieve this. Where this support is perceived to be missing or partial, pupils may avoid situations that require for them to display their musicality and creativity, disengaging from classroom music. Disengagement in the music classroom may take many forms and those pupils who fail to find a niche within school that suits their musical tastes will exploit "other than classroom" contexts in order to push the boundaries of their musical creativity. However, this is a loss to the musical breadth of the classroom setting, which further perpetuates the notion of "school music" as a separate musical genre and actively supports only the minority of pupils (7%) who pursue the study of music in the English classroom post Key Stage 3. (Contains 6 notes.)
MayDay Group. Brandon University School of Music, 270 18th Street, Brandon, Manitoba R7A 6A9, Canada. Tel: 204-571-8990; Fax: 204-727-7318; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (England)