- Encountering knowledge and practices outside of a formal educational setting.
- Enculturation in musical practices through lived experience in a musical environment.
- Interaction with peers, family and others who are not acting as teachers in formal capacities.
- Self-teaching by developing independent learning techniques, and acquiring skills and knowledge.
We explored how adding an increased focus on “real world” learning to Musical Futures (i.e., learning that is problem or project-based, constructivist, and experiential) using transformative and participatory pedagogies, might help strengthen the connections between informal music learning and young people’s sense of themselves as musicians, their preferred approach to music learning, and an increased musical appreciation of the popular music musicians they admire.
In Phase Two, we introduced student-led initiatives that were based on the frameworks involving youth-led participatory action research (YPAR). The objective of phase two was to allow students to explore issues such as authenticity, repetition, dedication and future musical opportunities. Students began by writing reflections, and common theme words to emerge amongst group members where then compiled into “word clouds.” Each group was encouraged to decide on an area of interest or “focus of inquiry” related to their song (e.g., comparing different recorded versions of the song, finding out about the lives of the musicians who were famous for recording the song, finding out about who composed the song, analyzing the various instruments or recording devices used in the song, and so on). In addition to their small group inquiry, each learner recorded his/her own reflections on his/her experience of learning the song throughout the process and at the end of the project. In the final part of Phase Two, each group was asked to consider a set of questions they would like to ask another band about the learning process. The question and answer session was held in the style of a press conference, whereby each group responded to questions from the floor and volunteered further information about how they went about learning their song together.
Participants were 44 Grade 7 students (aged 12-13 years) attending a co-educational independent school in British Columbia. The students had been learning to play a band instrument for four months prior to the start of the project. The research team worked collaboratively with the two music teachers at the school and frequently attended classes throughout the 10-week session. Each session was video recorded and reflections from the students and teachers were obtained. The students also competed a questionnaire at the beginning and end of the project that recorded their beliefs and values about learning to play an instrument.
The findings also demonstrated clear examples of transformative music engagement based on a framework proposed by O’Neill (2012). The students grew in confidence as musicians, with several expressing a recognition that they could now figure out methods by listening and working with others. They came to identify themselves as musicians and found a sense of “musical freedom” through the project. Many students also emerged as peer leaders, supporting and teaching their peers as they struggled with particular challenges. The students also developed collaborative skills by engaging in collaborative problem solving and creative explorations.