Extending the Apprenticeship Model of Music Instruction in Higher Education With Facebook Groups

Extending the Apprenticeship Model of Music Instruction in Higher Education With Facebook Groups

Tamara R. Meredith (University of North Texas, USA) and Scott J. Warren (University of North Texas, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5109-6.ch007
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Although faculty may not believe that they are legitimately “teaching” while engaging with students via Facebook, results of interviews and publicly available Facebook data clearly document intentional music faculty activities that fit the description of teaching through enculturation. This situates the phenomenon of Facebook groups firmly within the larger apprenticeship model in use in music departments; the process of enculturation through Facebook is used to teach new apprentices how to become functional members of their musical communities. Recommendations generated from the research and discussed in this chapter include addressing faculty concerns about personal and professional risk, departmental development of guidelines for Facebook group use and management that is based in enculturation theory, and training for music faculty in the use of social media channels as opportunities for teaching and learning.
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The master-apprentice dyadic roles assumed by applied music faculty and their students are well documented in educational literature addressing pedagogic styles in conservatories and university music departments (Burwell, 2012; Daniel & Parkes, 2015; Gaunt, Creech, Long, & Hallam, 2012). The applied teacher is the focal point for most educational direction during a student’s tenure at an institution since weekly study usually occurs with the same teacher every semester until graduation. As with all master-apprentice relationships, it is the eventual goal of the student (apprentice) to become a master him/herself. In the context of applied studio music study in higher education, this results in the eventual “mastery” of an instrument or voice by an apprentice through training. Training may include: performance, pedagogy, music business concepts, self-promotion, social skills, or other practices and behaviors that are deemed important by the master for successful enculturation into the profession.

Music students often select their schools based upon prior interaction with, or the reputation of, a single music faculty member who is, or has been, a professional performer of the highest caliber (Nerland & Hanken, 2011). The perceived authority and professional reputation of the master is key to recruiting apprentices. Once enrolled, music students attempt to develop their professional identities through anticipatory socialization (Bouij, 2004) with respected faculty, peers, and others in the music profession. It is through the apprenticeship model, paired with anticipatory socialization efforts, that music students acquire the skills, knowledge, and professional connections that they will use in their future lives as musicians within the professional musical community. In short—music students (apprentices) work to become professionals by seeking out faculty (masters) who will teach them the requisite skills and behaviors and provide anticipatory socialization opportunities. Once necessary musical and social skills and behaviors are acquired, the apprentice assumes the role of master within a greater professional music culture, and often the cycle repeats with the new master in a position to take on new apprentices.

Studying the master-apprentice relationship in studio-based music education has previously been difficult as it exists in isolated, one-on-one lessons that occur behind closed doors. Additionally, asking musicians to reflect upon their experiences as students carries with it the challenge that these former apprentices are now masters and view themselves as such in their current practices. However, the recent availability and adoption of social media platforms as informal, non-academic communication and learning environments has provided a new level of visibility into these practices and discourses. Faculty now communicate with current and future students as well as colleagues from other institutions in social media’s public environment. This environment provides researchers opportunities to document views, beliefs, and practices through social media exchanges. Advice and/or instruction that may have been previously imparted in an applied lesson—one-on-one, verbally, behind a closed door—is now shared widely via social media and archived, ostensibly for the foreseeable future. This new opportunity to share information carries with it potential benefits and pitfalls for both master and apprentice. It is further complicated by the fact that the current generation of music faculty masters often have little or no previous experience with, nor likely received guidance on, using social media as an informal learning environment. They are, in this case, first-generation masters with no previous experience as an apprentice to guide or inform their decision-making processes.

The social media tool often selected by music faculty for communication within their studios is called Facebook. Facebook is a social media platform started in 2006. It allows users to share information (text, media, links to other web content, etc.) with “friends” - a pre-approved group of other Facebook members with whom a user can interact. However, a challenge exists when attempting to research Facebook groups in that groups can be private (i.e., hidden from public view) and groups (visible or hidden) that have fallen into disuse are not automatically removed or disabled. This leads to an inability to quantify currently active Facebook groups or generate an approximate percentage of use by higher education music faculty.

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