Symposium on Music Teacher Education Proceedings Publication Offers a Road Map

Collaborative Action for Change: Selected Proceedings from the 2007 Symposium on Music Teacher Education presents new directions for the preparation of music educators and for their lifelong professional development. The book was edited by Margaret Schmidt, associate professor of music education at Arizona State University in Tempe, and published by MENC and Rowman & Littlefield Education. The symposium focused on examples of successful partnerships and collaborations between music teacher educators, classroom teachers, school and district administrators, as well as other individuals and organizations. Two keynote addresses (by Marilyn Cochran-Smith of Boston College and Don Gibson of Florida State University), raised important questions for music teacher educators to consider when shaping and assessing pre-service teachers’ learning experiences and what they study.

Collaborative Action for Change explores:

  • Expanding college curricula to bring about genuine interaction between pre-service teachers and teacher educators
  • Expanding interaction between teachers and students and their respective musics and cultures
  • Examples of university-school partnerships
  • Mentoring programs for novice and experienced teachers
  • Socialization and skill development for beginning teachers
  • Collaborative efforts among university faculty.

Mark Robin Campbell, professor of music education at the Crane School of Music, State University of New York at Potsdam said of the book, “This collection of papers from the Proceedings of the SMTE 2007 conference represents some of the best thinking in music teacher education today.” He continued: “Building on issues related to practice, research, and philosophical concerns, the authors capture differing perspectives and areas of interest, while putting forth ideas that articulate conceptual and curricular possibilities for music teacher education.” The list prices for the book are $90 for the hardback and $44.95 for the paperback. MENC members receive a 25% discount off the list price. For ordering and other information, visit Rowman & Littlefield Education.

During an interview, Schmidt discussed music teacher education and editing the book:

Q: The book seems like such a daunting project. What was most challenging about translating conference presentations into a coherent reference work? A: I worked with a review panel from SMTE (Society of Music Teacher Education™), and the members helped evaluate the material and select section topics and then chapters. That helped us get from Point A to Point B more easily.

Q: Who do you see as the audience for this work? Music educators? Pre-service teachers? Is there information that secondary school music teachers would find useful as well? Why? A: It is really aimed at music teacher educators and at graduate students who are looking for better ways to prepare music teachers to enter the working world. It might also be of interest to K-12 music educators, offering them help in working with student teachers. Q: Did you agree with most of the conclusions drawn by the presenters? Whether yes or no, how did that impact your editing process? A: The review panel guidelines were similar to the structure we use for JRME (Journal of Research in Music Education. We would ask whether a certain argument was logical, whether a premise made sense. It turned out to be a lot of fun. It helped to hear what others thought. Q: Music teacher educators work to prepare their students for real classroom work. How do actual teaching experiences differ from theories students learn in class? A: I think there is one thing most music teacher educators ask themselves all the time: how do I stay current with K-12 music teachers? We really fight against the “ivory tower” perception. For example, young teachers might visit a class when the regular teacher is there, and the kids are sitting quietly. That might change when the teacher leaves the room, and the pre-service teacher finds the students aren’t paying attention or are moving around. We cannot prepare music teachers for every situation; however, it helps for them to understand different types of classrooms and know how to adapt. We want to help music educators help their students be successful. I wish there were a magic formula to make it happen, but there isn’t. Q: In the introduction to your book you say that appreciating history gives you a sense of how music education has grown through the years as music educators exchanged ideas with one another. Could you give some examples of that? A: Knowing our history gives us a foundation. What happened in the past helps you understand the present and improve upon it. We have that foundation in SMTE, which gives music teacher educators wonderful support. Also, MENC has been very supportive of SMTE. Music teacher educators come together often and share information. Our goal is to continue to improve teaching methods so that music educators continue to improve, and so do their students.

Q: Is there a fundamental truth you gained from reading and editing this material?

A: Music teacher education is very complex and there are different ways of addressing challenges. I think the title of the book is very important—”Collaborative Action for Change.” We want to continue to produce highly skilled music educators, and we will succeed if our work is collaborative on many levels. SMTE members gathered in Anaheim, California, in March for MENC’s 2010 Biennial Music Educators National Conference.

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Roz Fehr, June 10, 2010 © MENC: The National Association for Music Education