Research & Issues in Music Education
This past August I had the opportunity to take part as a conductor in the Harmoniemusik Academy St. Moritz in St. Moritz, Switzerland. For a week in this beautiful Alps setting, I joined other musicians from the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and the U.S. studying the tradition of harmoniemusik—the Classical ensemble of pairs of oboes, clarinets, horns and bassoons (and sometimes flutes), which serves not only as the basis of the wind section of the orchestra but as the basis of the modern concert band. Many masters over the years have composed for this combination of instruments, including Mozart, Beethoven, Gounod, Hummel, Krommer, Lachner, Milhaud and R. Strauss.
While plenty of compositions were written for harmoniemusik directly, scores of larger works were arranged for the ensemble including symphonies and especially operas. In this way, by capturing the essence of the original composition in the retelling, composers (or music pirates) could also promote the original while providing social entertainment for the masses—not unlike the thousands of military and town bands that played transcriptions of operas, symphonies, ballets, masses and oratorios across the U.S. in late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, providing what was often the only taste of art music that many people would receive.
While the historical/compositional/theoretical aspect of the course served as a great re-entry into the world of being a student, it was topped off with conducting instruction. It had been nearly twenty years since I had had any conducting coaching, and under the able tutelage of Bastiaan Blomhert, Isabelle Ruf-Weber and Urs Bamert, I was reminded that I was rusty, dim, and pretty unspectacular. However, they insisted that I was teachable and had retained some kind of aptitude. Gracious all of them.
I write this now to remind myself that I’m probably not much different from other music educators who have become so ingrained with teaching and research that we have gotten away from our initial desire of simply making music and learning the simple historical aspects connected with it. Thanks to Dr. Blomhert and his faculty, I was reminded that I still love music and the process of generating it.
With these ideas in mind, I dedicate this issue of Research and Issues in Music Education to not only the case of lifelong music learning, but of lifelong music making.
In this grouping of articles, a variety of music education topics are addressed: Thomas Kloss writes about teacher turnover among high school band directors; Jihae Shin investigates the idea of how a community of peer interactions functions as a resource to prepare music teacher educators; Patricia E. Riley reports on a case study of curriculum reform in rural China; Sarah McQuarrie and Ronald Sherwin investigate the connections between classroom practice and professional publication topics; and Natalie Steele Royston writes about the connections between collegiate band members’ preferences of teacher interpersonal behavior and perceived self-efficacy.
I think you’ll find these articles to be timely and a basis for further thought, discussion and study. As always, I encourage you to link the RIME site to your professional, institutional and course sites.