The Development of Teaching Cases for Instrumental Music Methods Courses

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Date: Winter 1999
From: Journal of Research in Music Education(Vol. 47, Issue 4)
Publisher: MENC - The National Association for Music Education
Document Type: Article
Length: 4,723 words

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The purpose of this study was to develop teaching cases for instrumental music education methods courses through analysis of current teaching practice. A qualitative case study research design was used to document the daily interactions, decision-making skills, and use of pedagogical content knowledge of four experienced instrumental music teachers (one elementary, two middle school, and one high school teacher). Observation and interview data were analyzed and coded, categories were identified, and teaching cases were developed. The teaching case categories documented in this project include curricula and objectives, program administration, recruitment and balanced instrumentation, scheduling, choosing literature, classroom management in rehearsals, motivation, assessment and grading, musicianship, and rapport with students. Implications of this project for music teacher education and music education research are discussed.

Music teacher educators have articulated that developing instructional techniques for teaching sound decision-making and fostering reflective thinking skills in undergraduate music education methods courses are important challenges for the profession (Atterbury, 1994; Barry, 1996; Gromko, 1995; Robbins, 1993; Wing, 1993, 1996). In exploring this issue specifically for instrumental music education, several researchers have studied instrumental music methods course curricula (Garrison, 1984; Henery, 1981; MENC, 1996; Raessler, 1970; Schmidt, 1989) and suggested that more descriptive research is needed to document K-12 instrumental music education practice. Other scholars have suggested that the use of teaching cases as an instructional technique in music methods courses may help to foster reflective thinking and encourage sound decision-making (Abrahams & Head, 1998; Atterbury & Richardson, 1995; Richardson, 1997; Thaller, Finfrock, & Bononi, 1993).

In response to the call for more descriptive research to document practice and for the use of teaching cases in music teacher education, the purpose of the study described here was to develop teaching cases for instrumental music education methods courses through analysis of current teaching practice. L. Shulman (1992) defines teaching cases as "original accounts, case reports [first-person accounts] or case studies [third-person accounts] that have been written or edited for teaching purposes" (p. 19). In the present study, teaching cases were based on narrative descriptions of the daily interactions, decision-making skills, and use of pedagogical content knowledge (as defined by Shulman, 1986) of four experienced instrumental music teachers. For the purpose of this study, pedagogical content knowledge included an understanding of the problems associated with learning on musical instruments and the strategies connected to successful instrumental music teaching.

Theoretical Framework

Merriam (1988) discusses the theoretical orientation of the researcher as an important element in qualitative research. She suggests that "how the investigator views the world affects the entire research process--from conceptualizing a problem, to collecting and analyzing data, to interpreting the findings" (p. 53). Merriam reviews the many definitions of the word "theory" and suggests that since there is considerable debate about "theory" in educational research, and since most case study projects are designed to develop rather than support theory, the case study researcher must make his or her own world view and theoretical orientation known to the reader.

I maintain a post-positivist world view and have approached...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A65014132