EMS Proceedings and Other Publications

Electroacoustic music in middle and secondary education: Some concerns regarding curriculum development

Jeffrey Martin

Jeffrey Martin, Beijing, China


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The current importance attached to information and communication technology (ICT) in education and the wider availability of freeware music applications have increased the opportunities for student engagement in electroacoustic music. Still, research indicates that most music teachers use ICT as tools merely to facilitate working in traditional composing contexts (such as score writing or MIDI keyboard sequencing) rather than to explore diverse electroacoustic practices. Also, when the focus is sound exploration, rather than pitch and rhythm entry, the learning activities are rarely linked contextually to those traditions.
Fortunately, responses to this problem are emerging in the efforts of a few individuals and organizations to connect the technology-based composing done in schools with the authentic practices of electroacoustic composers. However, despite these valuable initiatives, it remains unclear what constitutes an effective curriculum. In this paper, I raise and explore concerns regarding electroacoustic music curriculum development, for middle to secondary school, against the background of recent advances in curriculum and music education philosophy, as well as my own teaching experiences. I argue that the success of such a curriculum is dependent on the perspective of music, electroacoustic music and education that informs its aims, activities and learning outcomes. Without critical attention to these foundational issues, teaching runs the risk of adopting an influential, but erroneous, conception of music and teaching that abstracts electroacoustic from the lived experiences and meaning-making of students, even when active music making is the focus of the lesson. Conversely, a curriculum that enables meaningful participation with the living and transforming traditions of electroacoustic music may help to prevent the further alienation of an already marginalized art form.

EMS10 Proceedings