This paper describes a best teaching practice called Critical Pedagogy for Music Education as it influences the preparation of future music educators. In a college laboratory school, preservice undergraduate music education majors collaborate with their professor to create music lessons they will teach to sixth-grade students in general music classes that meet once a week for one semester. Grounded in the social theories of Freire, McLaren, Giroux, and Habermas, the music lessons pose and solve problems that engage children in critical thinking, critical action, and critical feeling. The lessons inspire a dialogue that breaks down power structures and barriers that separate the music students hear in the classroom from the music they prefer to listen to outside of class. Throughout this process, students are empowered as musicians and realize they know that they know, a state identified by Freire as “conscientization.” The result is a transforming experience for students and their teacher. Four essential questions, gleaned from Habermas, guide the development of each music lesson: Who am I? Who are my students? What might my students become? What might my students and I become together? Instruction is sequenced in an eight-step teaching model that differentiates between left- and right-mode hemispheric processing and alternates teaching strategies accordingly. Contrary to common practice, lessons do not center on a lesson objective. Instead, concepts emerge as students and teachers construct their own meanings from the music being studied. In addition, strategies for teaching language literacy are embedded into each lesson step in such a way as to maintain the integrity of the music lesson. An assessment was completed after the spring of the second year. Sixth graders were interviewed four months after they completed their music course. Results showed that they were able to discuss the concepts presented, remember the musical content, and had overall positive feelings about their experiences in the general music class. Furthermore, they were able to meet benchmarks for students in grades 5–8 as articulated in the National Standards for Arts Education. Pre-service music education majors who participated in the program expressed confidence that they could replicate the program when they had their own music classes. The 1 future educators were enthusiastic and had positive attitudes toward teaching classroom music at the middle school level. These students and their professor, the lab school teacher, reported that teaching in the program provided opportunities to renew their own musicianship—an outcome they had not expected when they began the program. Responding to the success of the program, the Music Education Department developed three courses in Critical Pedagogy as prerequisites for elementary and secondary methods courses. The added courses are Critical Pedagogy I: Foundations and Contexts, Critical Pedagogy II: Praxial Applications, and Critical Pedagogy III: Philosophy and Social Theory. In these courses, preservice music education majors come to view music education as a pedagogy of resistance and possibility. They acquire a teaching identity that empowers them to contextualize music education and think of how it fits into the greater overall goals of education.
"Critical Pedagogy for Music Education:
A Best Practice to Prepare Future Music Educators,"
Visions of Research in Music Education: Vol. 7, Article 10.
Available at: https://opencommons.uconn.edu/vrme/vol7/iss1/10