Myth: Measuring musicianship is a subjective thing; not amenable to 'data-driven' instruction.
Truth: Measuring musicianship is an objective thing; perfectly amenable to 'data-driven' instruction.
One aspect of my prior job as Learning Network Leader--Music for GEMS was conducting research. My research involves applying language learning skills to musical content & measuring the results.
I have been strongly influenced by the ideas of Howard Gardner and Edwin E. Gordon. In A Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Gardner posits Musical Intelligence is its own distinct type of thinking. He further categorized music as a language-related discipline. A great deal of research chiefly by Gordon suggests he was largely, but not fully correct.
Thanks to Gordon's work (some of) what we now know is:
- musical thought is unique, yet multi-dimensional (there are multiple musical intelligences!!)
- many processes involved in becoming musical are similar to language learning
One of the real problems is that, whereas language teaching long ago abandoned a ‘memorize-recite’ approach in favor of more ‘brain-friendly’ and effective methods, music teaching remains largely stuck in this antiquated mode of teaching.
To try to measure the impact of my teaching and the children’s learning, I have administered standardized, norms-referenced tests to all 4th and 5th grade students prior to teaching music in this new manner. I will re-administer the same tests at the end of the year and report the results to all parties concerned.
If such an approach proves as effective as I believe it will, I want to help other interested teachers in adopting and/or adapting their teaching for the benefit of all students.
See Dubai American Academy's results here: Learning Network Leader Research