This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Vernacular Music in the Classroom: Creating a Bi-Musical Culture

Mark C. Adams

As a young child, Gary sat on the kitchen floor banging pots and pans together and singing nonsense songs about items and people in the room. As he grew older, he began plucking and strumming the strings of his guitar, trying to play along with his favorite songs on the radio. These early moments began shaping a love for music that eventually led him to participate in school music ensembles.

In elementary school, Gary’s music teacher helped him make sense of strange symbols on his page and develop his embouchure tech- nique, fingerings, and tone production. Even though this is not what originally made him pas- sionate about music, Gary wanted to perfect the skills that the educator emphasized. He took his instrument home, but instead of practicing the music for class, he secretly improvised melodies over his favorite song by The Dave Matthews Band.

By high school, he had come to realize that the musical skills he used at home were not used in school, creating conflicting definitions of “school music” and “his music” firmly in his mind. However, Gary understood the worth and necessity of his school music activities, so he continued performing in the school ensem- bles.


He began to realize that he was not teaching the skills he uses in his music making outside of his classroom walls.

Gary contacted his vernacular musician friends, and asked them about their school music experi- ences. He was shocked to find that their formal music education experiences either left them un- satisfied to the point where they eventually left the school program altogether, or they found the environment unwelcoming and never partici- pated in the first place. Many of them regret- ted not taking part in the formal music program saying they now understood the value of read- ing notation, learning additional instruments, understanding different styles of music, chord choices, and proper form.

After much thought and discussion with

his parents, Gary decided to enter college as a music education major. He went through many methods courses, practica, and student teaching placements, studied his texts and mimicked his cooperating teachers.

After classes were done

for the day, Gary could be found collaborating with friends in a rock band while composing original music together without using any writ- ten notation.

In his first teaching job, Gary found himself helping his young instrumentalists make sense of the strange symbols on their page and per- fecting their embouchure technique, fingerings, and tone production; recreating his experiences as a music student and teaching to his current school district’s expectations and assessment

Reexamining his own classroom, Gary begins to wonder what student needs he has neglected in his teachings. Perhaps he also has left students unsatisfied with their music education experi- ence. He understands that there is a value to both of these musical worlds, and as an educa- tor who strives to help his students become qual- ity music makers, he begins asking himself, “Am I truly fulfilling that goal if I am ignoring skills found in the popular music making world?” Gary thinks about the skill sets he uses outside of the classroom walls that enable him to impro- vise, compose, and arrange music for his band. As he begins designing lessons that include ver- nacular music making methods he realizes he is on his own, since his undergraduate classes did not prepare him for this. He asks himself “How can I include authentic experiences in my classes that teach these vernacular skills?”

Educators are beginning to ask themselves this same question as they realize the importance of vernacular music making methods. Researchers such as Lucy Green, Robert Woody, Sharon Da- vis, and Shari Jaffurs have shown that not only are popular musician skills valid, but that these skills should have a place in our classrooms. Furthermore, teachers are encouraged to make their instruction of their students as authentic


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40