- Lesson Books
Never has there been such an exciting time to be a music teacher. Band, choir, and orchestra are ubiquitous in schools and have come to be known as the primary mode that students experience music at the secondary level. Similarly, elementary school classrooms feature approaches by Orff, Kodaly, Dalcroze, and Music Learning Theory, among a host of others.
But, what is next? In this enlightening guide, author Clint A. Randles provides music educators with the practical tools to turn their classrooms into student production studios. Addressing everything from a new conceptualization of the physical classroom space to the cables and other audio equipment no music educator should be without, Randles puts creativity, technology, recording arts, songwriting, music production, and live performance at the center of music classrooms.
This is the second book that I have written in a period of a little over a year. I am riding the wave of my tenth year as a college professor. You are all aware that major breakthroughs happen across careers in ten-year increments—it’s the ten-year, 10,000 hours phenomenon. It takes approximately ten years and 10,000 hours of concentrated work to really have something of benefit to add to the discourse that we find ourselves engaging with as researchers/scholars in particular fields. In the case of this book, I have been practicing this version of music education since I started teaching in 2001. I have been the music teacher as music producer (MTMP) for my whole career—as K-12 teacher and college professor. This book is my best attempt to share many of the things that I have learned along the way.
In these pages you will find inspiration for first thinking about music education differently balanced with an equal dose of knowledge about how you could change (Jorgensen, 2008) your practice to match your expanded view of being a music teacher, balanced with another equal dose of how to expand your musicianship to reflect this new and exciting world of music education. This book focuses quite a lot on the technology that will help facilitate your musical and curricular expansion. There are so many wonderful examples of people across music education doing amazing work in curriculum expansion. The ideas that I present to you in these pages reflect my own journey in this world, and should be considered among the many other voices in creativity (Hickey, 2012), popular music (Davis & Blair, 2011; Georgii-Hemming & Westvall, 2010; Green, 2006, 2017; Ho, 2014; Kallio & Vakeva, 2017; Powell et al., 2014; Vakeva, 2006), and curriculum in music education.
This book is divided into three parts, after the introductory chapter: (I) Organizing Your Space, (II) Living with Live Performance, and (III) Making Tracks and Albums. There are ideas, concepts, terminology, and practical advice for you on the worlds of both live performance and recording in every chapter, with resources worth exploring further. Be sure to follow through and begin (or extend) your education in these areas. These are resources that I continually and daily explore as new content is added to them consistently every week. Your work in setting your room up for the creative work of your students will help you refine your conception of your role as a facilitator of live performances and recordings. You may use this book to focus on only one of these aspects. I’m okay with that. My greatest hope is that you find something of use here.
The MTMP idea is not in any way set in stone or prescribed. Please don’t ever think of this book as a bible or manual. Let your own pedagogical creativity mix with the ideas presented here, and let the material be a living, breathing, constant progression—the natural progression of the universe that I talk about in prior work (Randles, 2020). In many ways this is simply my story, my unique take on the idea of a classroom that puts student creativity at the core. While I have focused much on the technology side of teaching and learning here, there are quite a lot of pedagogical suggestions throughout as well.
As you begin reading this book, consider the vignettes at the beginning of each chapter as possible starting points. John is an experienced musician in the world of music teacher as producer, while Clara is relatively new to the idea, but open to learning more about what MTMP might mean for students and community. Danika is a teacher who teaches music completely online. The MTMP idea is perfect for her reality. This book provides a way forward for a music education looking for socially distanced forms of meaningful music making.
A world where music students function in the classroom like art students do in the art classroom is one where they can record and create at home on their computers, tablets, and smartphones, for sharing with their classes online and the world at large via YouTube and livestreaming. This new, alternative conception of music education world centers on connecting to the felt world of humanly formed musical sounds, crafted to the creator’s will, to express from the endless reservoir of musical/ emotional content that is inside us all. It looks different. It’s a little strange when compared to traditional band, choir, and orchestra. Yet it accomplishes some of the same things for people who might not have given music a try otherwise.
Nothing great happens without the concerted effort of a lot of different people. Consider the philosophical underpinnings of this book as described in Randles (2020). Do you believe that everyone needs creativity in their life? Do you believe that music provides a unique sonic entryway into that world? Do you believe that music education could be broader and more encompassing, more like the wide world of music? Do you believe that the role of a music teacher could be one where the primary focus is to help students create their own music, drawing from their own musical worlds? I’m hoping that you answered “yes” for all of those questions. You’ve come to the right place. This book is for you. Happy reading. Let’s get to work.