Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    The impact and local implementation of standards-based music curriculum policy frameworks and music education programs for students with disabilities and impairments in Victoria: a qualitative evaluation
    Farrell, Helen Jane ( 2006-11)
    This study is in response to national, state and local curriculum issues. Curriculum work is taken to embrace curriculum research and theory, and curriculum development and implementation. This study is a critical reflection on current curriculum work as a day-to-day experience. This study is about the impact and local implementation of standards-based curriculum frameworks for students with disabilities and impairments. The focus is to develop an improved understanding of the extraordinary complexities that encompass standards-based music curriculum policy frameworks for these students in the State of Victoria. For most people, a better understanding of these extraordinary complexities may much reduce fear, unease and distrust. The phenomenon would seem logical. This study explores ways in which public curriculum policy is developed and implemented in modern societies like Australia. This study is a critical reflection on moves to change curriculum, curriculum policy framework initiatives and the institutional contexts that shape the impact and implementation of curriculum. Public curriculum policy formation is challenged by competing pressures and limitations including an increasing emphasis on ‘partnerships’ and ‘networking’. There are difficulties and complex challenges to ensure that all students share in the benefits.
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    "A terrible honesty": the development of a personal voice in musical improvisation
    McMillan, Rosalind ( 1996-06)
    Australia mostly with a focus on the performance of African-American music or jazz. In this majority of these the emphasis is on the performance of those styles which were conceived and developed up to the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the free jazz era. However, there is one course which, although it is rooted in African-American music, promulgates the notion that Australian students in the 1990s should endeavour to develop a personal musical “voice”. This is Improvisation Studies, a three year degree program at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Australia. This study sought to clarify what was meant by a personal voice by monitoring the development of selected students. Given that the notion of a personal voice as an outcome is a novel one, the study adopted an investigatory discovery-based approach. This required intensive study of selected students on the grounds that the development of a personal voice manifests itself in different ways. A second major purpose of the study was to investigate factors which affected the development of the personal voice. Key factors included the ways in which the VCA course encouraged the development of this voice, as well as the characteristics that students brought to the course and which possibly reflected their musical educational background.
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    Musical futures in the primary (elementary) years
    McLennan, Rebecca Louise ( 2012)
    Music is an important part of young people’s lives for self-expression, enjoyment and identity formation, and it is vital that school music is able to engage all young people. A music classroom approach, Musical Futures has been found to have a positive impact on the re- engagement of young people at the secondary level (Hallam, Creech, & McQueen, 2009, 2011; Jeanneret, 2010; Jeanneret, McLennan, & Stevens-Ballenger, 2011). Years Five and Six (10-12 year olds) are grouped into the middle years of Five to Nine (10 – 15 year olds) who share common engagement needs. This study explored whether Musical Futures could have a similarly positive impact in the upper primary years as it has had in the lower secondary level. The research was a collective case study following two Australian schools which used the Musical Futures approach to music education in Years Five and Six. The study used a mixed methods approach including interviews, focus group discussions, observations and surveys to gather data. The results of the study found that Musical Futures had a positive impact on students’ engagement, musical skills and knowledge and social learning in the two case study schools. The conditions supporting the positive impact were closely aligned with principles of engaging middle years students. The study provided a number of key recommendations for schools considering implementing Musical Futures in the primary years. While it acknowledged that each case is different, the study suggested that the age of primary students should not discourage teachers from using this learning approach in their music classroom.
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    The map is not the territory: reconsidering music improvisation education
    Wallace, Michael Edmund ( 2012)
    This paper examines contemporary theory on music improvisation learning and teaching. It highlights how music improvisation education is being reconsidered, and the implications of this reconsideration for academic practice. The aim of the research is to emancipate. In this sense the topic engages critical theory to evaluate literature so as to provide a way forward for music improvisation education. The inductive document analysis undertaken examines a variety of document forms to seek recurring themes and thematic relationships. This qualitative investigation is framed by ecological systems theory/methodology (Borgo, 2007; Clarke, 2005), which sees knowledge as embodied, situated and distributed. Music education centres on the performance of repertoire, often neglecting the creative processes of improvisation and composition. This study finds the dominant improvisation education methods which stem from jazz as limited in scope. Jazz improvisation education commonly centres on patterns and models and a harmonic imperative (chord–scale theory). Such approaches do not holistically embrace the immediacy, preparation, embodiment and social interaction of the improvisation process, which ecological systems theory seeks to acknowledge. In a broader setting, the Dalcroze, Kodály and Orff early childhood methods centre on improvisation as play, perhaps reflecting Piaget’s concrete operational stage. Subsequent levels of music education, perhaps viewing play as immature, neglect the embodied, situated and distributed elements of ecological improvisation. Paynter and Schafer, through their Cagean prioritisation of critical listening, exhibit some elements of ecological systems thinking. I conclude that the educational methods utilised by free improvisers, such as Stevens, Dove, Dresser and Bennink, engage the learner holistically through embodied, situated and distributed practice. It is recommended that such educational methods, which involve community practice, be introduced into music academies to reflect the ecological nature of improvisation.
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    Introducing instrumental students to improvisation
    Dipnall, Mark Fairlie ( 2012)
    Improvisation has been an integral component of music practice throughout a variety of world musics, such as the Indonesian Gamelan, Japanese Kabuki Theatre, African drumming, Australian Indigenous music, Klezmer music, the Indian Raga, Jazz and Popular music. Instrumental tuition, within the present system of Western Education, on the other hand, tends to emphasise an early and ongoing commitment to the reading of notated music. Some of the literature in the area suggests that the emphasis for instrumental tuition should be concerned with improvisation thus producing opportunities to achieve a more personalised and independent result with music expression. By including improvisation within regular tuition the student instrumentalist could feel more at one with his or her own voice and imagination, rather than attempting to take on the role of reproducing the character and style of another person's notation. This thesis focussed on the development and provision of improvised music activities with high school students from Years 10 and 11. Consideration was given to how these improvised music activities might have impacted not only their improvisational skills but also broader attitudes to music. The study included a specifically designed curriculum emphasising improvisational techniques. It was constructed and implemented over a ten-week period with accompanying interviews, questionnaire and video. The aim of the study was to assess the impact of the implementation of this curriculum and how it could assist the learning and teaching of improvisation. The study's performance-ensemble consisted of rhythm and lead instrumentalists where all participants had the opportunity to engage with specific instrumental techniques that assisted the expression of improvisation. Simultaneously, all participants had the liberty of managing the lesson-content with original extemporised melody and composition. The results showed the participants experienced increased confidence with improvisation. The conclusion suggests that improvisation be viewed as an integral component within the teaching and learning of instrumental music.
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    Students' music preferences in three schools in the western suburbs of Melbourne, 1989
    Cullen, Patricia Mary ( 1990)
    A study of 225 year 7 and 8 secondary students was undertaken in 1989 to examine their school music preferences. The survey, in questionnaire format, was administered to those secondary schools (Private, High and Technical) in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Music preferences of those surveyed indicated that most subjects were in favour of studying and listening to pop music and that the parents of students in both Private and Government systems want pop music taught in school music programmes. The fact that students indicated a very strong interest in learning pop music at school may be and indication that students want to incorporate their interest in pop culture into their formal school life. If it is not provided in the school students will pursue their interest in pop music outside school hours. So why not capitalize on a medium which has after all captured the students interest and imagination? The new VCE does exactly this. It endeavours to cater for and introduce students to a wide range of musical styles and genres, including pop music. Thus why not use a medium which appeals to the students’ tastes and interests and which after all deserves a legitimate place in the school music curriculum. For contrasting Private and State schools attention was focused on the female results. Parents of female students in both Private and State schools want pop music taught in the school music curriculum, but contrasts of boys and girls could only be made for those in State schools. Another finding revealed that more parents of girls from the Private system would like classical music taught at school and more parents of boys from the High school would like pop music taught at school. Recommendations are made concerning the incorporation of popular music into the music curriculum.
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    Beyond words: newly-arrived children's perceptions of music learning and music making
    HOWELL, GILLIAN ( 2009)
    This thesis examines the way refugee and immigrant children, newly-arrived in Australia, perceive and describe music learning and music making. Sited in a specialist English Language School for primary school-age new arrivals, it explores the meaning that children from diverse cultural backgrounds and prior schooling experiences ascribe to their music classes and experiences, inviting their perceptions of what they are learning, how they learn it, what aspects of the music program most engage and motivate them, and what sense they make of the music program and its existence at this school. The study also focuses on the methodological issues at play in a research context where multiple languages, culture shock, and pre-adolescent children with unknown pre-migration experiences, coincide with a subject matter that does not lend itself easily to spoken descriptions. These include issues of interpretation and assigning meaning, and the way that different cultural values and expectations can influence participants’ responses. The researcher sought to develop research methods and tools that would effectively elicit the children’s responses, supporting them in the unfamiliar research environment, while remaining sensitive to their preferred ways of communicating. This is a qualitative multiple case study that focuses on three individual students from diverse cultural and schooling backgrounds, with the school’s music program being the issue or concern upon which they offer their different perspectives. Both within-case and cross-case analysis was utilised, and a phenomenological approach to the inquiry was embedded within the case-study structure and research design. Data were gathered by means of interviews and participant observation, and were analysed and interpreted for emergent categories and themes, and for the additional meanings hidden between what was not said, or within awkward language, using interpretive poetics methods and direct interpretations of individual instances. Discussion points and conclusions include the significance of the music pedagogy in building shared understanding among culturally-diverse children, the impact of culture shock on children’s perceptions, the importance of social learning contexts for newly-arrived children, and methodological challenges and recommendations for research with a similar cohort of children.