Youth Music Engagement
- The ways in which youth construct and use music to help them manage and express their emotions, communicate with others and negotiate identities and social situations
- The increasingly multimodal and fluid interconnections found in youth music engagement involving digital media technologies
- The change processes (initiators and sustainers) and benefits (impacts) that youth derive from engaging in real-world, formal and informal music learning contexts
Transformative pedagogy is not a method of teaching but rather a set of principles that guide teaching and learning interactions. These principles vary between different epistemologies and perspectives; however, several key elements are common to most approaches, as follows:
- Teaching begins with student knowledge. Opportunities for expansive learning are provided that enable learners to manipulate or interact within their own artistic/musical and cultural ecologies in a way that helps them make meaningful connections.
- Skills, knowledge, and voices develop from engagement in the activity. Learners are asked to create, express, or display their own representations of a particular issue, event, or phenomenon.
- Teaching and learning are both individual and collaborative processes. The role of the instructor is one of facilitator, organizer, leader, and source of knowledge on the topic, but not the primary source of learning. Teaching and learning are transformative processes.
Learners share their creative representations with others and engage in a process of dialogue, shared meaning making, and reflective practice on sociocultural and sociopolitical associations.
We create possibilities for more expansive learning opportunities through knowledge and critical understandings of the contexts and complexity that construct and shape learners’ musical worlds in ways that are both diverse and particular. We deepen our understanding of what it means to be a music learner through a focus on the entire situated person in relation to his or her music learning. We empower music learners by nurturing their reflexive capacity to reflect inwardly about connections between the self, music, and sociocultural understandings. Our research is designed with the intention of providing evidence that will inform planning and policy-making in relation to youth music engagement and education. The research team hopes that by broadening young people’s understanding of their own musical practices and those that take place in local and national communities, young people will recognize a wider range of possibilities for music engagement that will enhance their well-being, emotional competence, communicative capacity, and quality of life in this key area of personal and sociocultural identification.
An earlier version of this article was published in the Canadian Music Educator (2012, Vol. 53, No. 2), and is reproduced here with permission of the Canadian Music Educators’ Association. The authors Susan O’Neill and Kevin Bespflug would like to thank the students and Steve Burrage, a music teacher at Southridge school, for participating in the project. We also thank co-investigator, Dr. Yaroslav Senyshyn and Project Coordinator for Research for Youth, Music and Education (RYME), Deanna Peluso, for their contributions to the research.