The Future of Music Education

stephen heppell

The fabulous Stephen Heppell, my experiences with Musical Futures and seeing students learn is what inspires me.

I’m not a young educator and have struggled throughout my teaching career to make a change.  Make learning fun, use ICT’s, engage students, change the content, change the curriculum and assessment etc.  These are some of my cries.

The future world for our future learners should involve creating flexible learning spaces with access to all technologies.  A phone might be just the ticket for a learner, whereas another learner may require a laptop.  Devices are to suit the student not the curriculum. At my school, all students in year 7,8 and 9 are supplied with a mini Ipad with years 10,11 & 12 supplied with a Mac Air. These devices are locked and students can not download music or apps that they might require.  This is not ideal and rather inflexible.   In my music classes  students bring their own phone, which contains their music.

James Humberstone talks about the importance of learning spaces in his video learning spaces.  He discusses the differences between a technology inspired learning space and a Steiner learning space.  Unfortunately, my school has a standard “traditional” classroom with whiteboard, desks, chairs and a tv at the centre of the room.  This space transforms magically into a music room then disappears again to a “traditional” classroom for the French or History teacher to use.

Their future is changing with many companies building their own schools within the workplace.  Students will build their own learning environment either physically or digitally.  Students teaching each other, offering peer support and engaged in learning, is what the future will be.  Teaching and learning via Skype is another example of change.

A few years ago I was asked to to conduct singing lessons via internet.  I baulked and didn’t think I could do so.  My concerns were low quality sound and picture and deep inside my lack of confidence in using such technology.  Today is different and I will do so!  There is little to be gained and much to be lost by restricting use of technology in music classrooms.  Bauer (2014) tells us how technology has become ubiquitous and has resulted in a “flattened earth” within which our students reside where knowledge is completely accessible and communication is instant.

Any space can be a learning space.  Look around your school and find somewhere no-one uses.  Stephen Heppell mentions staircases as learning spaces.  As a music teacher, we often find ourselves teaching in the bowels of buildings, in regular classrooms that magically turn into music spaces, on the verandah of a building or even in a tin shed with no power.

I also believe that we must put students at the centre AND NOT THE CURRICULUM.See the article below. I have highlighted the bits that “floated my boat”.

“In Dubai, as a member of the Academic Council for GEMS Education, I visited two remarkably different international schools that put students at the centre. Aside from a few set lessons, students were given the power to plan what they were going to do each week and when. They had extensive access to online resources, connecting with teachers, students and experts in various fields. They typically worked in small groups, developing the crucial teamwork skills that will be required in the workforce. Their lessons were often project-based and driven by their personal interests. Teachers took on a mentoring and coaching role; older students, too, mentored younger children, deepening their own knowledge of the subject as they passed it on. Teachers and students spoke enthusiastically about the positive difference this has made. ”

This is very “Musical Futures” pedagogy. I have embarked on this pedagogy over the past three years with the outcome of increased enrolment in elective music for years 9 and 10. This pedagogy also fits nicely with the Certificate II, III & IV Music courses where students learn by using their practical skills that have meaning in their world.  musical futures ear playing

Read more:

We need to create a culture of creativity and innovation in both our schools and the bureaucracy that surrounds them. How can we teach our students to be creative thinkers, able to adapt to whatever life throws at them, when the system itself is stifling and controlling?

The future jobs for our students will require creativity, innovation and teamwork which should be a crucial consideration for educational leaders.

As James Humberstone says in his video “students can learn autonomously” when referring to the use of technology.  student learn autonomously.  In my teaching practice, students go to my blog, are mostly intrinsically motivated, know what they are doing and what equipment, friends, setups they will require for their lesson.  I feel I am lighting a candle for the path of the future of music education.



1 thought on “The Future of Music Education

  1. I am interested that you used the Musical Futures pedagogy in your own teaching – I found Lucy Green’s description of that approach extremely compelling.


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