Start Date

31-5-2011 3:00 PM

End Date

31-5-2011 3:30 PM

Description

Presented in the form of an ethnodrama, this paper features data from three studies to illustrate how current attitudes and practices in music education both foster and inhibit musical expressiveness and personal well-being. Stories of public school students, adult learners, and music teachers as performing musicians bring to light contemporary issues including (a) the influence of competition upon expressive performance; (b) isolation versus community music-making; (c) the impact of fear-based "motivation" systems; and (d) accessibility of free and creative music-making opportunities to a larger population of musicians. Experiences of high school students in an honor orchestra festival illustrate how externally-imposed achievement systems can impede opportunities for individual expressive freedom. In one example, students reported expressive performance to be least relevant of all surveyed musical skills during the festival's competitive seating audition. In this socially comparative climate, student comments revealed feelings of anxiety, confusion, and distrust. Musical expressiveness reportedly increased later in the festival as students rehearsed together, and reached a climax at the dress rehearsal (notably not at the concert). Student comments at all phases of the festival revealed a pervasive belief that the conductor was the ultimate expressive and creative authority. Adult learners featured in this ethnodrama demonstrate an internally driven motivation for music learning. While some adults shared stories of emotional sorrow and self-criticism related to having been deemed "untalented" earlier in life, some expressed gratitude for the opportunity to learn and create music at their own pace and in their own style. Especially meaningful to this population was the freedom to choose repertoire to which they could personally relate, and the freedom to choose when, where, and how often they would participate. Encouragement and support from teachers who express belief in their capability to perform and progress was important especially to those who had negative early experiences. Music teachers asked to perform for a community fundraising event demonstrate tensions between their multiple identities as teacher, performer, scholar, caregiver, etc. Each teacher reported various levels of distress, expressing concern that they would not be able to perform at the level they were capable. Findings help to inform how current conditions within the profession might stifle music educators in their own music making, and how suppression of expressivity may translate into unhealthy models for students, and negatively influence self-care and well-being. Research findings are presented in the form of an ethnodrama to capture the essence of interview and observation data. In the form of spoken dialogue, qualitative data from the three studies are woven together into a meta-analytical story that demonstrates how these studies relate to music education practices and their influence on individuals. Quantitative data are also reported as a voice in the dialogue along with relevant visual representations. Ethnodrama is utilized here both as an arts-based research method to analyze data from the three studies, as well as to present the findings in an evocative artistic form. As is typical with many ethnodramatic works the dialogue evolves toward a “utopian ideal,” and concludes by offering positive alternatives to current practices.


Included in

Music Commons

Share

COinS
 
May 31st, 3:00 PM May 31st, 3:30 PM

Playful Spaces for Musical Expression and Creativity: An Ethnodrama

Presented in the form of an ethnodrama, this paper features data from three studies to illustrate how current attitudes and practices in music education both foster and inhibit musical expressiveness and personal well-being. Stories of public school students, adult learners, and music teachers as performing musicians bring to light contemporary issues including (a) the influence of competition upon expressive performance; (b) isolation versus community music-making; (c) the impact of fear-based "motivation" systems; and (d) accessibility of free and creative music-making opportunities to a larger population of musicians. Experiences of high school students in an honor orchestra festival illustrate how externally-imposed achievement systems can impede opportunities for individual expressive freedom. In one example, students reported expressive performance to be least relevant of all surveyed musical skills during the festival's competitive seating audition. In this socially comparative climate, student comments revealed feelings of anxiety, confusion, and distrust. Musical expressiveness reportedly increased later in the festival as students rehearsed together, and reached a climax at the dress rehearsal (notably not at the concert). Student comments at all phases of the festival revealed a pervasive belief that the conductor was the ultimate expressive and creative authority. Adult learners featured in this ethnodrama demonstrate an internally driven motivation for music learning. While some adults shared stories of emotional sorrow and self-criticism related to having been deemed "untalented" earlier in life, some expressed gratitude for the opportunity to learn and create music at their own pace and in their own style. Especially meaningful to this population was the freedom to choose repertoire to which they could personally relate, and the freedom to choose when, where, and how often they would participate. Encouragement and support from teachers who express belief in their capability to perform and progress was important especially to those who had negative early experiences. Music teachers asked to perform for a community fundraising event demonstrate tensions between their multiple identities as teacher, performer, scholar, caregiver, etc. Each teacher reported various levels of distress, expressing concern that they would not be able to perform at the level they were capable. Findings help to inform how current conditions within the profession might stifle music educators in their own music making, and how suppression of expressivity may translate into unhealthy models for students, and negatively influence self-care and well-being. Research findings are presented in the form of an ethnodrama to capture the essence of interview and observation data. In the form of spoken dialogue, qualitative data from the three studies are woven together into a meta-analytical story that demonstrates how these studies relate to music education practices and their influence on individuals. Quantitative data are also reported as a voice in the dialogue along with relevant visual representations. Ethnodrama is utilized here both as an arts-based research method to analyze data from the three studies, as well as to present the findings in an evocative artistic form. As is typical with many ethnodramatic works the dialogue evolves toward a “utopian ideal,” and concludes by offering positive alternatives to current practices.