NAFOL profile: Jon Helge Sætre

Educating general music teachers

Jon Helge SætreI have myself been a music teacher educator for several years. It is a highly rewarding position, even though this particular educational context is continuously at risk and subject of debate. Music teacher educators need to constantly advocate the significance of aesthetic subjects in teacher education, and to join the fight about time and resources. As a performing musician, and with some experience from teaching primary and secondary music, I find the practice oriented parts of teacher education important. At the same time, as a music education researcher, I see the need for and importance of educational theory, research and reflexion. This is the starting point of my PhD project: What is the educational content of general music teacher education programmes, and in which knowledge bases (epistemologies) does the selection of content rest? What is the relation or balance between music theory, music education theory and practice, and performing and creative elements? In other words: How do the teacher educators prepare their students for music classroom teaching in primary and lower secondary schools?

Moreover, I am planning to explore the variety and significance of teaching methods topics as educational content in general music teacher education. Teaching methods is perhaps not the most emphasised theme in modern teacher education. The Cambridge professor Robin Alexander (2001) states that: “For all that in teacher training programmes ‘method’ is given common currency, in the UK it is rarely explicated and therefore means in practice what individual proponents of ‘method’ wish it to mean.” (Culture and pedagogy, p. 323). I suggest that the situation is slightly different in music teacher education, due to for instance the legacy of Carl Orff, Zoltan Kodaly, Shinichi Suzuki and even Alexander’s fellow countryman John Paynter. Today we also find a variety of methods, embracing both modern and traditional music cultures, such as band methods, music and body movements, Write an Opera, and so on. The project therefore aims to explore the variety of teaching methods aspects included in music teacher education, and to study and discuss the factors influencing the choice of knowledge bases and music teaching methods.

Abstract (docx file)