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to the cultures as possible (Campbell, Scott-Kassner, 2002). Since the music, practices, and environment of popular mu- sicians represent a type of sub-culture, teachers will need to learn more about vernacular music skills and strategies asso- ciated with this musical culture. In essence, music educators will need to become “bi-musical”, that is knowledgeable in the music of two musical cultures (Waldron, 2007).

Developing a classroom environment that authentically in- corporates the methods and skills of a traditional (or for- mal) classroom with those of the non-traditional (informal) vernacular culture can be difficult. Compared to traditional classrooms, members of non-traditional musical commu- nities engage in what is sometimes called “informal music learning practices,” where they largely teach themselves. There is no licensed music educator present to provide leadership or feedback; instead, non-traditional musicians are encouraged and helped by peers and family members (Green, 2002; Jorgensen, 1997). For music educators with a traditional or “classical” background, this means learning the skill sets and learning strategies used by nontraditional or vernacular musicians. It also means rethinking their role in the music classroom, since the learning strategies employed by vernacular musicians are not teacher directed.

Skills and Learning Strategies For many vernacular musicians, aural skills take precedence over reading traditional notation. While some vernacular musicians read a form of notation such as tablature or chord charts, few read the sort of traditional notation often found in formal music classrooms. Instead, many vernacular mu- sicians strive to perfect “purposive listening,” where they listen to a recording or another player with the intention of fully recreating the melody, harmony, note durations and rhythm, timbre and other effects, as well as a given part’s role within the ensemble (Campbell, 1995). While classi- cally trained musicians sometimes feel “attached to the sheet music,” vernacular musicians tend to be more focused on the aural transmission of musical information (Green, 2002). Conversely, “ear-trained” musicians often regret having no formal notation training, as they cannot communicate with other musicians easily or preserve their own work (Rodri- guez, 2004).

In addition to aural skills, vernacular music culture values peer-directed and cooperative learning, which obviously differs from the teacher-led instruction found in more tra- ditional classrooms. Just like traditional classrooms, many popular music groups work best when a leader teaches the rest of the band members; however, unlike traditional class- rooms, all members of the group are actively involved in discussing and experimenting with the music. Vernacular musicians tend to practice alone, but when the group gath- ers together, a song leader (typically a lead singer, guitarist,


or the one who selected the song being rehearsed) will take charge, making decisions and directing the rest of the band (Green, 2002; Campbell, 1995). Unlike traditional ensem- bles, this leadership can be shared amongst the group, with members taking turns leading different songs.

This form

of peer-directed learning encourages vernacular musicians to develop a variety of musical skills based on their unique roles as composers, arrangers, and performers (Boespflug, 2004; Davis, 2005).

In the vernacular music culture, peer and self-assessment strategies take priority. Although most popular style musi- cians hold their own opinions highest in value, comments and criticism from band mates, audience members, friends and audio recordings all rank above teacher feedback (Leb- ler, 2007).

In addition, many vernacular musicians use a

variety of techniques to help with self-assessment, many of which include some method of audio or video recording. Using recordings at home, vernacular musicians incorpo- rate purposive listening skills to improve their playing by mimicking what they hear in a recursive pattern of listening, playing, experimenting and assessing (Campbell, 1995).

The Educator’s Role

The typical vernacular music experience occurs without a music educator present. Therefore, if we are to create an authentic informal music experience within a formal class- room, the music educator must be willing to relinquish some control of the learning process and allow students to take charge.

Allowing students to be in control of their own learning for a portion of a rehearsal or class can be challeng- ing for some educators. However, there are many ways in which the music educator can still play an active role.

Foremost, it is important that the educator stays supportive and positive, especially when students involve themselves in more aural learning. To avoid pitfalls, the educator should begin lessons with clear criteria and direction, structuring boundaries yet still allowing students to experiment with music making possibilities as they work. As vernacular mu- sicians try to mimic melodies or transfer data aurally, many mistakes will happen. In a classroom experience, the educa- tor can help students problem solve, guiding them in the cor- rect direction without necessarily giving away “the answer”. This trial and error is important for the aural development of vernacular musicians and needs to be encouraged, rein- forcing the idea that mistakes eventually lead to the correct solution. In a supportive music group, a student can have more musical growth through interaction with peers, making an encouraging music classroom the ideal environment for such collaboration and sharing of ideas, values, and perspec- tives (Allsup, 2008).

One issue facing music education would be that of assess-

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