The Beginning: Freelance Teaching in Boston

To make things clear off the bat – this internship was originally going to take place at the EKS Music School in Quincy where I am faculty.   Because I have yet to teach any brass students at the school, I will be focusing on the teaching adventures with my own private students and the strange way that I acquired them:

Strange, because I never thought I would be the kind of person to “buy into” this kind of thing.  It seemed too convenient, too easy, yet after only two months of making a (minimal) online account, I acquired my first piano student.  Fast forward three months and many MIE 501 readings later, and I have acquired some very interesting and life-changing perspectives regarding music and music-in-education.  But that’s for later – for now, we must set the scene of the beginning of true freelance teaching in the Boston area.

I had freelanced my first year in Boston as a horn player and a collaborative pianist specializing in the Suzuki Method, but never had I had any students.  Late summer going into my second year of my master’s, my friend told me that he had acquired a piano student via this website.  Intrigued, I began an account and filled in all the appropriate information.  I had never really written down or contemplated my own unique, logical teaching philosophy before, and when I saw this requirement on the website, I simply wrote what I had always thought:

Through all these experiences, I can safely say that my theory of teaching and learning music is that it’s all about connections. To learn music is to learn a completely new way of looking at the world. It is an inward journey of strength and discovery as much as it is an outwards one, learning to successfully and compassionately communicate with fellow musicians and anyone else who might cross your path. I have collaborated with individuals in both the instrumental and vocal realms – trumpet, trombone, tuba, (French) horn, clarinet, flute, violin, viola, bass, sopranos, mezzo-sopranos, baritones, and have taught piano, horn, and beginning/intermediate wind instruments in both private and group settings. I love music, and even more, I love teaching music!

For areas that I taught, I put (using their categories) Accompaniment, Accordion, Audition Prep, Classical Piano, Ear Training, French Horn, Music Performance, Music Theory, and Piano.  Fair enough, I thought.  I had played accordion all through high school and undergrad, busking on the streets of my beloved college town, but never had I thought that I would teach the instrument (little did I know).

The account sat there for awhile, being added to with various pictures and videos, when all of sudden, I received a notification from TakeLessons saying that someone from Milton has signed up for piano lessons.  TakeLessons in a way is more reliable than the old-fashioned show-up-and-pay-as-you-go method.  People must pre-pay for lessons, specifically five to start out with, and then can only withdraw from lessons if they seriously dislike their teacher.  The teacher is paid either way, whether or not the student shows up, by direct deposit.  The only catch is (and I know you’ve been waiting) is that for the first fifteen lessons, trust must be established, and that trust comes in the form of 25% of your lesson going to the website that so conveniently hooked you up.  You set your own rate of pay, however, and after fifteen lessons, you can earn 90% of what you charge.  It’s just a switch of convenience – either have the student, that either you or a friend has recommended to you, hopefully pay you after the lesson has taken place (and not give you a check that bounces or not show up and you’re out that time unless you have a no-show plan), or have the money from the student who chose you amongst a list of individuals on a conveniently accessible website go straight into your bank account with a slight cut for the middle man.  Personally, I’m enjoying the latter option very much as it is very convenient and everything you could ever need to access regarding the financial state of these lessons is stored in an online account.

So, I had my new student.  Awesome!  How did that happen?  Why did she choose me?  I’ve honestly thought quite a bit about this, comparing myself to the other profiles of piano teachers in my zip code.  One thing I am sure sticks out, and this is not in any way facetious:  I’m a friendly looking, 20-something female who doesn’t have any particular instrument in the picture with her to alienate those who aren’t looking for that particular kind of lesson.  I would look up people who were listed as horn teachers, and when they had a trumpet in the photo with them, I would be taken aback and shake my head.  What are these people thinking?  You can’t claim to teach violin and have a harp in the picture.  Silly, silly.  So, common sense aside, what else set me apart?  For the piano side of things, I teach all piano, not just classical piano.  Most people (and I used to be one of them) seemed to be in the classical rut.  I wanted to teach only classical because that’s the best rep and you can collaborate and blah blah blah. . . Look, some people just want to play an awesome song they heard once, and to me, that’s so much more genuine than sticking to a canon because of archaic constraints of “classical music” and the days when ladies were “bred well” because of their literal “parlor tricks.”  Nah.  Done with that.  If that’s your thing, though, of course I’ll teach you the parlor tricks.  Hell, I’ll teach you ALL the tricks.  But if you just happen to really like that Yann Tiersen song or that one song by that techno band that for some reason decided to compose a beautiful piano piece, that desire is so beautifully genuine, and I will more than help you learn it.

It turns out that this student was one of the “Classical Piano” students, which is great, because that’s my forte (pun completely intended).  And, because she’s fourteen years old and her mother enrolled her in piano lessons, she is one of those modern incarnations of the well-bred individual.  In modern society, girls of the middle class are still taking music lessons not to be married off as acceptable stock, but ALL children are as a part of this new over-satiated-with-activities generation.  I am so incredibly grateful that I was able to be the multi-faceted artistic individual that I was throughout my childhood and young adulthood in a specialized sense.  I loved creative writing, I loved language, and I loved music.  Done.  Sports, nah.  Acting, not so much.  Visual arts, yeah maybe.  I took ballet.  I took vocal lessons.  I took violin lessons then switched over to viola because duh C-strings are awesome.  But these things were all eventually sloughed off of my extracurricular epidermis.  I wasn’t shoved into French club, Greek school, baseball practice, basketball practice, CCD class (aka “Catholic Church Detention” because we were clever) – my mother rode that line of respecting me and my right to choose as an individual while guiding me because I was not yet an adult, but when I decided on something, boy, did she crack down.  (We could open the whole can of worms on parenting and discipline, but the energy required into writing that would manifest in the form of an entire article – not now, but perhaps stay tuned!)

To elucidate, I am not one to belittle the act of taking music lessons, much less exploring the world around you; but exactly that, exploring the world around you, doesn’t always come in the structured form of a lesson.  Exploration and curiosity are things to be bred, for sure, but to satiate our kids so that they have no room to breathe, no room to feel like they can explore, no opportunities for them to discover how they learn, how they can explore, is more of a disservice than a leg-up on life.  Trying to reschedule with this particular student is a nightmare.  This time, inconveniently placed for the traveling music teacher at the peak of rush hour, is the only time she can receive lessons.  And to what end?  To show that she practices?  That there is that spark of intrinsic, volitional learning?  Why take music lessons at all if you’re not one to take time to develop a craft and through this craft realize these subtle truths?  of your nature?  of life internal and external?  of these connections that hang, suspended in this vast network of life, just out of reach until some sort of realization hoists you up, and at last you realize the awe-some depth of existence, and that everything connects to everything else, and at this same moment you paradoxically admit to knowing nothing?  (That escalated quickly. . .)  But in all seriousness, why continue skimming all these surfaces hoping to find hidden treasure just bobbing at the top?

One can probably tell by now that I am a teacher who lives in the fractal paradox (don’t worry, I don’t usually tell people that).  By that I mean the lesson is a constant ebbing and flowing of specialization, via technique, music theory, and broad application, playing through a piece to see where we are, discussing general musical ideas.  This in addition to personalized Socratic methodology, in which I guide the students to the answer based off what they know and their way of learning and discovering.  This has been a heavy-hitter for a first of three articles, so I shall divulge more information regarding my teaching methodology throughout the next couple of articles.

Documenting Atrium M+MI Violin Program Student Learning

How do we monitor, assess, and evaluate student learning? Check out the video below for a brief introduction to process portfolios.

Sight-singing vs. Memory

NewsBlog Editor’s Note: This post is the fourth of a series written by CMIE Research Fellow Anthony Green, as part of the documentation for Green’s CMIE Research Internship. See other posts in this series here.

NEC is constantly blessed to have such people of note come visit our school as Renée Fleming, Fred Firth, and Steve Reich. Recently, Gustavo Dudamel was one of the esteemed guest, and he presented information about El Sistema, the youth orchestra in Venezuela that has been changing lives and gaining worldwide recognition. The presentation was so highly regarded by Professor Scripp that he cancelled class in order to allow his students to attend the seminars and the performances. More teachers at NEC should adopt such a caring attitude towards their students when such guests arrive. 

In a class prior to his arrival, Professor Scripp presented an anecdote to the class about when he and one of his former students met Gustavo Dudamel. According to the professor, his student was so enthusiastic about solfege that he still remembered (and this is the key word to this whole anecdote) some of the exercises that he worked on with Scripp. I do not remember if Scripp also solfeged for Dudamel, but the highlight of the anecdote is when Dudamel himself waxes poetically about solfege and orally presents his own results of diligent study to his adoring fans: he starts to solfege a fast movement from a Tchaikovsky symphony (I believe it is number 4, the scherzo movement). Amazingly, his syllables were perfect, his pitch was also to be admired – it was obvious that he was a successful student of solfege, and that this technique has shaped his development as a musician.

Gustavo Dudamel story – audio

But something about this charming monologue left a sour taste in my mouth. I had never thought about the real difference between sight-singing and solfege until now. In my undergrad at Boston University, I learned solfege in a “stight-singing” course. We were expected, more or less, to sight-sing. With this in mind, it was strange that Professor Scripp’s former student had learned some of these exercises so well that he remembered them after being away from them for quite a while. I felt the same about Dudamel’s breathtaking impromptu performance. Obviously, these pieces were not sight-read. They were memorized.

It brings up two very important questions pertinent to this course:

  • 1) how important a role should memory play as an element in teaching solfege and why?
  • 2) how does memory reinforce general sight-reading and solfege skills?
  • Before delving into these issues more, in that very same class, the students were going over an exercise that contained a quick passage: mi! mi-re-do-si-la-do-si-la-mi! re! do-mi-do-la-mi – – mi – – la! By the end of the class, I heard the melody so much that I could sing it without ever having seen the notated music. I cannot even mention where the exercise is from and who composed it! This experience is akin to listening to a snippet of a pop-song on someone else’s iPod, and remembering it because the snippet contained one motive repeated many times. I raised the issue in class; if I remembered this and executed the exercise as well as the students in class, yet I did not see the music at all, then what method of teaching is more important? Furthermore, if the only goal desired in the end is to be able to execute the exercise, then what should stop a student from simply applying pure memorization to the exercises, thus inhibiting sight-singing ability?

    Additionally, other comments were made about velocity. One of the students expressed concerns about not being able to solfege a certain group of syllables fast enough. Professor Scripp then proceeded to teach the students how to practice learning how to increase solfege velocity. His method, which is based on grouping and specific syllable emphasis, is a method of practice that corroborates directly with the process of memorization. While the technique is successful, the process of how to instantly recognize groups while sight-singing was never once even mentioned, yet alone taught.

    When I brought up such concerns, Scripp gave me an answer quickly: this is a way of involving the students in the language of solfege.

    Such an answer is great. I strongly feel that learning solfege is similar to learning a new language. The difference between learning a new language and learning solfege, however, is that no one asks you to read in your new language as fast as you can (although, such exercises should be done, as it would greatly improve conversation skills). Furthermore, it is rare to be asked to communicate in solfege, although Professor Scripp did make the students improvise musical questions and answers in solfege. More of these exercises could have been mandatory, however the fault of these exercises lies within the ability (or lack thereof) of the student to improvise a melody.

    Other ways of exposing solfege as a language to students is to force the students to sing scales and arpeggios in solfege at the beginning of each class. Such a traditionally boring approach was hinted at, and I am sure that Scripp strongly advocated such exercises to be done daily by the students on their own. Additionally, the students were advised to create “themes” in each key (see the November 20th blog “Near-perfect pitch” for details). Another process may be to sing a snippet of one’s favorite pop-song and transpose it to each key, and in the opposite mode (major goes to minor, and vice versa). Modal shifts were rare in this class (but they were done!).

    So, what role does sight-singing play in this class? A LARGE ONE! Many classes throughout the semester were sight-singing classes. The students were asked to bring in works and “teach” them to the class using solfege. Often, Professor Scripp would hold classes of reading Bach Chorales, Palestrina, Victoria, and more. The students were exposed greatly to sight-singing. Not officially having to take the final examination or to put together a portfolio, I do wonder what the faculty expects from the students in this class outside of what was made clear.

    MIE Portfolio Showcase: Multiple Personae and the Artist-Teacher-Scholar

    NewsBlog Editor’s Note: This post is the first of a series in which MIE Concentration students have volunteered to share excerpts of their emergent MIE course portfolios. Graduate student Bianca Garcia has graciously volunteered to be our first portfolio example.

    This blog is a sneak peek of my MIE511 Portfolio entitled, “Multiple Personas”.  In my portfolio I will attempt to define the concept of a “Persona”, describe my own personas as an artist, private teacher, and outreach performer, as well as answering the main inquiry I had throughout my time in the MIE Graduate Seminar with Professor Larry Scripp. 

    The first chapter of my portfolio will feature my mission statement. It also will feature two inquiries: What is a “Persona”? & How does one best divide time between teacher and student activity in performance outreach?  Furthermore, the first chapter will highlight excerpts of my answers to Prof. Scripp’s “Persona Questionnaire.” 

    The second chapter will give a perspective of my persona as a private flute teacher.  Towards the end of the MIE511 Graduate Seminar I obtained a new flute student, which gave me a chance to create a new persona as an Artist-Teacher-Scholar.  The role of the “Scholar” had been revealed to me by an in-class portfolio exhibit by Laura Umbro.  The concept of documentation in private lessons was impressed upon my mind and as a result, I formulated a “Lesson and Practice Notes” guide that would provide documentation of student progress, as well as foster the student’s own persona as an artist-scholar.  It also implements the Learning Through Music (LTM) Five Fundamental Processes that are intrinsic to fully engaged learning in music.  Another reason for my creation of the aforementioned guide was because my philosophy on private lessons had been stimulated by words of Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi.  Below is part of a Double Entry I had written (with Csikszentmihalyi’s quotes on the right and my words on the left).


    Quotes: Comments:
    “…if an organism learns to find a positive experience in doing something that stretches its ability…you’re likely to learn new things, to become better at what you’re doing, to invent new things, to discover new things.” This quote describes the quintessential pedagogy—one that stretches a student’s ability through positive experience.  This positive working energy spawns other excess work, such as learning more than is required, becoming better than required, inventing new ways to overcome obstacles and discovering on their own, outside of lessons.
    “When you begin to enjoy things that go beyond survival, then there’s more of a chance to transform yourself and to evolve.” Enjoying things that go beyond survival- in terms of a music student’s survival means avoiding being thrown out of a teacher’s studio.  Instead, if a student gets beyond survival and starts evolving and can hear their playing transform—then they’ll be enjoying themselves!

    Finally, my portfolio will feature my persona as an outreach performer.  Again material from my Persona Questionnaire will be displayed, this time including real-life experiences from my many years of performance outreach.  It also will feature a special chart I made that covers outreach performances from 2002 until this year and shows the ratio of performer versus audience activity in each outreach and documents a steady direction I have taken in dividing activity between the two.  The creation of this chart was made in response to my main inquiry and with inspiration from various articles recommended by Prof. Scripp and colleagues in my MIE511 class.  Among these articles was “Crossing Boundaries” by Gail Burnaford in which she describes Music-In-Education as “entrepreneurship”.  According to this simile, Music-In-Education would then require creativity, pioneering, and fulfilling needs.  I believe this description would find a parallel in the Artist-Teacher-Scholar framework as fulfilling needs definitely aligns with the persona of an artist, creativity with a teacher, and pioneering with a scholar.  Another article I read from class suggestion was “The Teaching Artist and the Artistry of Teaching” by Eric Booth.  In this article, Booth quotes an old adage: “80% of teaching is who you are”.  This quote struck me and caused me to reflect on my former collaboration with the From the Top radio show.  I started an internship with the From the Top radio show’s Education department at the beginning of Spring Semester; however, I had formerly been a From the Top “cultural leader” as a teen flutist.  Something about the experience had felt really powerful and meaningful.  I was not a certified educator and had never taught a class, but children in schools that I had visited enthusiastically received my performance- wanting to hear more than I had prepared, wrote letters to me that looked up to me as a person, and expressed their desires to start playing my instrument.  Later, I learned From the Top’s mission through their education program—“we provide a platform for young artists to present themselves, share their passion, and develop into inspirational peer models.”  These aspects of teaching shine through outreach performance.  They both also relate to one’s persona as an outreach performer.  Musicians in any educational setting are role models, as teachers or visitors, and children are imitators and balls of energy; therefore, we must be at the peak of our behavior and musicianship while presenting for them and our presentations must involve them.

    To find my “Practice and Lesson Notes” guide, its basis in the LTM framework, and the Ratio of Student/Teacher Activity chart, look at the attachments below.

  • Lesson & Practice Notes Guide [DOC]
  • LTM Five Processes in “Lesson & Practice Notes” Guide [DOC]
  • Chart of Outreach Activity Ratio [DOC]

    -Bianca Garcia

    Bianca Garcia is a graduate flute performance major. An alumna of the Curtis Institute of Music and NPR’s “From The Top” radio program, Bianca has long been involved with performance outreach and is finishing her first year in New England Conservatory’s Music-In-Education Concentration program.

  • The Scholarship of Teaching Artists

    While helping New England Conservatory’s Music-in-Education students to prepare and propose Guided Internships, I have begun to realize the extent of complexity —but also, opportunity— involved in teacher education and the creation of teaching artists programs that serve schools and other learning communities. As MIE Program Coordinator, I am faced with the challenge of ensuring that student-proposed Guided Internships be productive experiences for both the interns involved (usually as teaching artists) and for the host organization (i.e, a community program or school) they are conducting their internship at.

    Students who propose internship ideas come with a wide variety of prior teaching experiences, and the goals/expectations they set for their internships vary just as much. Most students, even freshmen, have some cursory teaching experience from high school; for example, being a mentor for younger high school peers. Others have already taught college-level courses, led summer programs, or consider themselves lifelong teachers. The MIE Guided Internship Program is designed, however, as a set of individualized/independent projects, and it is usually the approach to pre-planning and documenting the internship (and not the actual teaching component) that poses the most challenges. It is during these phases (internship pre-planning and documentation) that Guided Interns receive hefty doses of mentorship from MIE faculty and MIE Research Center staff.

    To what extent can a research center, like the MIE Research Center, play in the planning of guided internships?

    Respected educational policy researcher and teacher education advocate Gail Burnaford, of Florida Atlantic University (and formerly, Northwestern University), suggests that by taking a stance in “teacher action research,” teachers can reach new levels of understanding student learning, as well as reform their own understandings of personal learning processes. [Note: Incidentally, I’ve found Burnaford’s article to be very useful, and refer to it often, throughout my own work.] Burnaford writes,

    Professional development [Guided Internships] that assumes an action research stance . . . means taking small slices of music, small slices of classroom episodes or video vignettes, and with teachers and artists, asking, ‘What’s going on here? What is happening? What do we see?’ The process involves interviewing children and young people about the experience . . . Developing research questions that are valuable to both teachers and artists can promote dialogue and enrich the actual teaching that occurs when artists visit classrooms.

    One of the initial steps we encourage students to take, when planning their Guided Internships, is the formulation of overarching inquiry or research questions. Even questions that seem simple at first (i.e., “What’s going on here? What do we see?”) may actually require quite a bit of planning to answer thoughtfully. Because the answers to these questions, and the questions themselves, are at the forefront of determining what kinds of artifacts are collected for the intern’s portfolio, it is important for interns to be very thorough as they plan the collection of said documentation.

    Burnaford outlines some of the more common approaches to documentation:

    The methods of teacher action research provide a number of ways to do this: collecting field notes, looking at video, doing a lot of listening to recordings—not of performances, but of student thinking, of children talking with each other about their art. These reflective methods (Wolf & Pistone, 1991) are intended to improve children’s performance and achievement; they are valuable as tools to contribute to evaluation of arts initiatives; they are also effective approaches to professional development for adults in schools.

    Some interns, but not all, are able to see the immediate value of having these various artifact types in their internship portfolios, and are able to structure them into their lessons; for example, through class assignments, private lessons, conversations with mentor teachers or school/community center administrators, personal reflections, and MIE seminar work. For other interns (such as those less familiar with the portfolio process, or with less teaching experience), I direct them to the following passage from Burnaford’s article:

    Gardner’s four roles for students who are engaged in the arts (Gardner, 1973) are useful frameworks for professional development of teaching artists, music teachers, and classroom teachers. The four roles, composer, audience member, critic, and performer give artists and teachers a frame or empty outline to use in order to ask the inquiry questions, ‘Why is the child doing this? What is she learning? What is he expressing? What did I as the teacher or artist do to help? What can I be doing next?’ . . . Teacher learning is the way in to student learning; teachers need to experience all four of those roles too.

    I find Burnaford’s reminder (that Gardner’s four roles are also applicable to professional artists and educators) to be a refreshing and welcoming statement germane to the emergent workforce of artist-teacher-scholars: that the personae that result from the triangulation of Artistry, Teaching, and Scholarship truly incorporate all four of Gardner’s roles.


    Quotations used in this post are from “Crossing Boundaries: The Role of Higher Education in Professional Development with Arts Partnerships,” written by Gail Burnaford for the Journal for Learning Through Music (Summer 2003). Guided interns of all experience levels can benefit from readings found in the Journal for Music-in-Education and its previous incarnation, the Journal for Learning Through Music. Both journals are available for free, online at the MIE National Consortium‘s website,

    Randy Wong is Program Coordinator for the Center for Music-in-Education and Information Architect for the Music-in-Education National Consortium.

    The Enterprise of Music and Learning

    From the Journal for Music-in-Education:

    This first section of the Journal for Music-in-Education tells the stories of several musical artists at different points in their careers: a promising young composer, a celebrated concert pianist, an extensively recorded improvisation artist, and a recent conservatory graduate embarking on a career in world music.

    These portraits are not intended to foreground the impressive trajectory of their musical accomplishments, but rather to draw out a clearer understanding of how a life in music can be defined by the deep yearning to learn, teach, serve, and connect with others. These portraits show—in the words of the artists themselves and in commentary from their mentors and peers—that musical endeavors take on greater depth through a broad range of social encounters, role modeling, reflective thinking, and community involvement, all of which are becoming better understood as essential to the successful education of the performing artist in society today.

    Thus, the enterprise of learning music for the highly trained artist, as represented in these chapters, takes on a particular significance as a “transformative”model for public school education. Time-lapse documentation of Julia Carey’s childhood notations presents an intriguing mosaic of how children’s understanding of music evolves over time. Yet her simultaneously expanding interests in academic excellence and role modeling through community engagement provide the larger picture of a musician preparing herself for rich and mutually satisfying connections to people and thus for meaningful contributions to society itself. Lorin Hollander’s precocious sense of music’s interdisciplinary association with physics,literature,and psychology and his depiction of personal transformation through mentorship can help educators appreciate the potential contributions of musical understanding to young children’s cognitive, aesthetic, and social-emotional wellness and to the solution of systemic social problems, such as the disillusionment ofour youth,cultural intolerance, or violence in our schools and among nations.

    The divergent roles musicians play in society is also emphasized in the reflections by Michael Cain and Randy Wong. Both provide extensive detail of their experiences sidestepping their early classical training and choosing to “take delight”in exploring other forms of musical genre and culture. Here again, the evolving models of musicians and music in education are seen from the perspective of how engagement in ensemble improvisation and world music outside the conventions of classical traditions can support our youth, who yearn to connect contemporary modes and media of self-expression to our changing society,as Mr.Cainputs it,“around the world and around the block.”

    Portfolios: A Dialogical (or Conversational) View of Emergent Practices

    “What are the purposes for having artifacts in portfolios? What is the purpose of the portfolio itself?”

    Sometimes the obvious answer to a question isn’t the most open-ended response. These questions are just two of many ‘questions of purpose’ raised yesterday in conversation from yesterday’s session of “Music as a Fundamental Medium and Model for Arts and Arts Integrated Teaching and Learning: A Portfolio-based Professional Development Seminar,” which is being taught by Larry Scripp at the Harvard Graduate School of Education this Spring.

    The response that I think is most fitting to these questions is one that Larry posed: that ‘we’ (the portfolio’s audience) don’t know what those purposes are yet; at least, not until the portfolio’s author has developed his/her persona and inquiry questions.

    Larry’s answer soundly resonated with me, not only because of its open-endedness, but also because it reminded me how much the portfolio process helps to initiate personal growth, in tandem with professional growth. In my article, “Portfolio Documentation in Context” (which will be published in the Journal for Music-in-Education 2007, I write that

    Portfolios . . . cannot exist in a vacuum. There must be a community of like-minded individuals who can appreciate the work of the student or professional. Without a supportive environment of peers, mentors, and teachers, the reasons behind portfolio documentation and assessment would be lost on our students.

    On an explicit level, this language refers to the Music-in-Education community at the Conservatory and in the MIENC. But on an implicit level, what I am implying is that there is a certain amount of personal investment, commitment, and exploration that must take place when undertaking a project like that of portfolios.

    Imagine your portfolio as your work, in dialogue: In conversation with people who know you, and people who don’t.
    (Larry Scripp, class lecture, 2/26/07)

    My response to Larry comes in the form of the ‘obvious’ questions: How does one engage in constructive dialog with unknown others? What forms can that dialog take?

    In order to answer these questions, I must first define for myself who I am.

    I can already see that I have multiple roles in the seminar: as a co-teacher with Larry, a mentor from the field of Music-in-Education, and as an active participant in class. Each of these roles translates to a slightly more developed persona, from which I will develop my own portfolio.

    These personae are as follows:

    • HGSE alum as a module participant and mentor (since I did the Arts In Education program at HGSE –and took Larry’s course then– and am now working as a professional in the field of Music-in-Education);
    • Higher-Ed administrator, evaluating my own college’s curriculum (which happens to be a MIE program), and re-imagining the workforce
      (both as music professionals and professional teachers) with Artist-Teacher-Scholars being developed by my MIE program;
    • A professional Artist-Teacher-Scholar, crafting my own professional development workshop with themes from this module, and experiences as program evaluator and Information Architect for the MIE National Consortium

    A portfolio crafted for each persona could have remarkably different artifacts. I could choose which readings I do for the course based on which articles are more relevant towards my work. For example, Arnie Aprill’s article “Rules for Arts Ed Radicals” might be more applicable to the Higher-Ed or Professional A-T-S profiles, while Gail Burnaford’s “Crossing Boundaries: The Role of Higher Education in Professional Development with Arts Partnerships” might apply to all three. Presumably, more useful readings for the A-T-S persona would be found in the first issue of the Journal for Learning Through Music, because that Journal’s focus has very specific examples of music integrated curricula, whereas the second issue is more philosophical. (Although, it would depend on what sort of professional development seminar I’d be thinking of creating).

    Thinking about my portfolio as a conversational view of emergent practices is helpful, not only because of the fluidity it lends towards the collection of documentation, but also because it forces me to always be mindful of the role that context plays in displaying and communicating information. Merriam-Webster defines conversation as “an exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas,” and I think that definition assumes that the parties involved have some sort of mutual understanding of those sentiments. So, in terms of the creation of my portfolio, this means to me that any artifact that I include should only be included if it helps to satisfy the way that I can help others to mutually understand what it is that I’m trying to convey. Melody Marchman, a student in Scripp’s “Graduate Seminar in Music-in-Education” (taught at NEC as the Conservatory’s parallel to the HGSE module), said it best when she paraphrased minimalist composer Phillip Glass:

    You don’t truly know yourself until you can see yourself objectively.

    Regardless of which persona I choose to focus my efforts toward, I believe that by contributing to the HGSE module (in the aforementioned roles/personae), and by creating portfolios to showcase various aspects of my work at New England Conservatory and the MIENC, I will be exploring an emergent world: that of professional development geared towards Artist-Teacher-Scholars.


    Randy Wong is Program Coordinator for the Center for Music-in-Education and Information Architect for the Music-in-Education National Consortium.