Research Profiles - Music Education
The Department of Music Education is dedicated to world-leading research and teaching in music education. We have the largest full-time faculty in North America with nine faculty members whose world-renowned research encompasses democratic engagements, philosophy, sociological, psychological and policy perspectives, community musicking, music learning for the life-span, and creativity studies. Our community of scholars works with a passion for and commitment to music education. As visionary musicians and educators they possess the musical, pedagogical and technological skills, knowledge and understandings necessary to advance music education around the world.
My areas of research are in critical pedagogy, urban music education and particularly policy studies where I am recognized nationally and internationally. My most recent publication is the book Policy and the Political Life of Music Education which was released by Oxford University Press in February 2017 and is co-edited with Dr. Richard Colwell. For Oxford I have also co-edited the Handbook of Social Justice and Music Education. My publications can be found in a variety of international journals such as Music Education Research; Arts Education Policy Review; the International Journal of Music Education; Theory into Practice; Journal of Curriculum Theorizing; Philosophy of Music Education Review; ABEM Journal in Brazil; and the Finnish Journal of Music Education. Beyond my ongoing research projects in policy studies here in Ontario, I have led several consulting and evaluative projects including recent work for the National YoungArts Foundation, and the New World Symphony in Miami, United States. I have also consulted for the Ministry of Culture and Education in Chile. I am currently working on a single authored book on policy and co-editing The Handbook on Sociology of Music Education with Western colleague, Dr. Ruth Wright.
It has been my pleasure to serve in the music education area of the Don Wright Faculty of Music since 2001. Training in music education and ethnomusicology along with years of experience (in formal school settings as an elementary music teacher, a curriculum specialist, and a community music worker with people of various ages) convinced me that all aspects of music education are important be they imparted in formal, informal or non-formal settings.
My research concerns informal music teaching and learning, referred to variously as community music, adult music learning, and lifelong music learning. It encompasses traditional transmission, learning by ear/heart/hand, or — indeed the way in which most of the world’s music has long been taught and learned. As well, I have also added to scholarship in formal music education.
Currently I am collaborating with an Irish traditional musician and dancer tracing his music and transmission over the past eighty-some years. I am also involved with several long-term collaborative ethnographies on the ways in which Elvis impersonators learn their craft (with Western colleague Dr. Stephanie Horsley), children’s self-posted clapping games on YouTube, and the online and offline networks of Canadian Scottish bagpipe players.
My areas of scholarly interest are philosophy and history of music and music education, in particular how musical and educational thinking are shaped by all manner of people and events. Historically, music has been wielded by politicians and advertisers, for example, as a tool of persuasion, just as education has long been conceived by governments as a mechanism of social control. But of course music and music education can also liberate by encouraging children to critically examine their musical worlds to decipher people’s intentions or agendas underlying their musical actions. My most recent project is a just completed book manuscript entitled On Virtuality, Trumpism, Bull$#*! and Music Education in which the argument is made that music education can contribute in important ways to the health of liberal democracy in this time of increasing political cynicism and social unrest. Music education is conceived as contributing to democratic citizenship. This entails helping students develop critical voices and ideas of their own by carefully scrutinizing music wherever it is found to gain a deeper understanding of its pervasiveness and persuasiveness in their lives. Several examples of how music is treated by politicians are provided as potential models for how youth might approach this task. Chapter three, for example, excavates some of the probable reasons for former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s stated distain for so-called elite musicians and artists, linking it with his youthful conversion from Canadian liberalism to American neo-conservatism.
Betty Anne Younker
My work has encompassed teaching, performing, researching and serving as an administrator over the last 35 years. Post a Bachelors of Music and Master’s in Music Education I gained invaluable experiences as an educator through teaching students in Kindergarten-Grade 10 music spaces. For nine years I observed, learned, taught, and made music; it strengthened who I am as an educator and musician. I became curious about how we perceive and understand music, and how we represent that understanding. My doctoral experience at Northwestern University provided incredible insights across multiple areas of music and music education. Knowledge about music perception, psychology of music, creative thinking, critical inquiry and philosophical issues provided me a breadth and yet a focus to continue with research projects. With that research I have returned to classrooms to observe and work with students in composition-based environments, reflected on issues related to curriculum and pedagogy, and philosophy and psychology of music. With paper presentations and publications that are ongoing, I continue to seek out and frame issues related to our multifaceted discipline.
Service to the profession continues to remain important and currently I serve as Past President (The College Music Society) and Past President (The London Arts Council). As a musician I continue to seek ways to engage vocally and as a flutist; both bring me back to my roots of music making which motivated me to enter the field after high school.