Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Crossfading and plugging in: Secondary students' engagement and learning in a songwriting and technology class
by Tobias, Evan, Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2010, 626; 3402496
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this intrinsic case study was to examine the musical engagement and learning of secondary students in a songwriting and technology class (STC) that focused on the creation, performance, recording, and production of original music. Connecting aspects of music technology, production, and popular music, this study addresses the intersection between school and popular music as well as informal/formal learning practices in a music classroom.

Focused primarily on the work of select individuals and groups during a final STC project, data were generated through observations, video and audio recordings, computer screencasts, interviews, video-based shared reflections, and researcher memos. Analysis of data revealed that students, given an open environment to create music with minimal parameters or guidance as to aesthetic aspects of songwriting, enacted idiosyncratic creative practices and drew upon popular music influences. Students acted as musicians and embodied the roles of songwriters, performers, sound engineers, recordists, mix engineers, and producers—sometimes separately and other times in an overlapping fashion. Each role and associated use of tools and techniques provided students with specific ways of thinking through and engaging with music.

Findings suggest the importance for broadening notions of aural skills, music literacy, and musical thinking/doing to account for the processes and products involved in contemporary music creation and production. This would involve engaging in a discourse of composition in music education that addresses a conceptual framework of songs and tracks (Zak, 2001). Additional implications related to music educators’ roles, pedagogies, and curricula are discussed based on participants’ (1) development of aural skills and music literacies in the context of popular music studio production and digital technologies; (2) understanding of musical concepts but lack of standard labels to articulate their understanding; and (3) feeling that the STC was relevant and connected to their lives and future. Implications from this study lead to a recasting of curricular options beyond large ensembles to address needs of students marginalized from traditional music programs and the re-examination of K-12 and higher education music curricula and pedagogies in light of popular music, production, and traditionally excluded musical roles.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Barrett, Janet R.
Commitee: Abril, Carlos R., Webster, Peter R.
School: Northwestern University
Department: Music Education
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 71/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Music, Music education, Curriculum development
Keywords: Composition, Music production, Popular music, Secondary music education, Songwriting, Technology
Publication Number: 3402496
ISBN: 9781109746198
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