Career

A SMiLE-ing experiment

I wanted to write a quick post to share my excitement about a new research group starting up at IU called: SMiLE: Science of Music in Learning and Experience.

The purpose of the group is to cultivate conversations about music research among students and faculty across departments in the school of music and across units on campus. So far, interest in the group has been expressed by grad students and faculty from… …Music (education, theory, conducting), Cognitive Science, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Telecommunications, Speech and Hearing, Informatics, Computer Science, Linguistics, and Second Language Studies. This image is a wordle of the groups’ collective interests from our first meeting.

Topics of interests

Our first two meetings were interdisciplinary, collegial, energetic, and overall – lots of fun. Many thanks to the colleagues and friends I spoke to who encouraged doing something like this and gave such great advice about how to do it. Many thanks too, to the wonderful colleagues and students taking time out of their busy days to join in the fun!

It’s sure to be a fun adventure and I’m excited for what the Spring may bring!

Artistry and Music Education

Some quick background…

What follows is a brief personal statement I shared at our first departmental music education research colloquium at IU this Fall. Each faculty member had an opportunity to share their thoughts about the intersections between artistry and various aspects of music education. It was terrific fun to hear everyone’s perspective and an energizing start to the year. I enjoyed thinking on the topic so much I thought I’d share my own excerpt here…

Artistry and music education in higher education: A personal view on the topic as a developing scholar of music teaching and learning

I truly enjoy thinking about intersections between artistry and music education. The tensions surrounding issues of identity that I and I am sure many others have experienced while going down the path of becoming a music teacher were profound and the personal growth and development that occurred was equally so. Embracing a multi-dimensional perspective of one’s identity and the professional roles one can play in the world is a notion I challenge all of the undergraduate music students I work with to grapple with. Considering how one’s artful musicianship can inform one’s music teaching is an important part of that challenge. Similarly, I believe that puzzling about how one could be artistic in their approach and application of pedagogy is valuable for all teachers who would like to make a positive and lasting impact on their students. Ultimately, an inclusive and flexible view of self seems likely to be a more productive perspective than a fixed and rigid view when it comes to doing good and personally fulfilling work in music education.

More recently, I’ve been thinking about the possible paths that might lead to stretching and reconceptualizing music teacher identity to incorporate that of a scholar. In my experience, it appears that the profound tensions and shifts in identity that pre-service music teachers experience as they ponder their roles as musicians and teachers are likely similar to those that an emerging scholar encounters as they begin to imagine themselves as researchers and music teachers in higher education throughout their time in graduate school. If a similar assumption holds here – that a more flexible and inclusive view of self could ultimately be more valuable than a fixed and rigid view – then I find myself wondering what it would mean to merge an artistic worldview of music education with a scholarly one and vice versa?

My goal in this informal talk of our introductory research colloquium is to try and explain how I’m beginning to see properties of artistry embodied in scholarship and the pursuit of research, given the role of scholarly activity in the functions of a music educator in higher education. More simply, I have been thinking about the questions: What might it mean to pursue scholarly work in music education with a sense of artistry? What if some of the most prominent virtues of artistic activity were mapped onto scholarly activity? I’ve tried to answer these questions by imagining ideas I might give my “13-year-ago” self… …someone starting out down the path of growing a scholarly identity around fairly well-established musical and pedagogical dimensions of self.

A quick side-note on artistry…

Whether it’s in regard to being a musician, a teacher, or a scholar, for me, artistry most often implies something extra-ordinary — a type of activity that is clearly beyond the mundane and everyday – it’s something special – something heavily soaked in personal meaning, activities with intense levels of engagement, and a mode of doing that can lead to transcendent experiences.

With that, some thoughts on artistry and scholarship…

Imbue the goals of your work with your unique perspective. An artist scholar seeks to make a contribution to the field that is both personally rewarding and enriching for the broader profession. An artist scholar aims to develop a personal voice. They work to develop a style of writing and communication in general that is their own. Moreover, an artist scholar either chooses work that is intrinsically meaningful or finds a way to inject intrinsic value in the work they are confronted with. Ultimately, their scholarly goals reflect their personal values and view of the world.

Embrace the same things an artist needs to embrace in order to carry out their best work. An artist scholar has very high regard for craft and skill in methods and techniques. They dedicate the time and energy necessary to refine their craft and strive for elegance in execution. An artistic approach to scholarship involves periods of immersion in their work and high levels of focus and concentration on the task at hand. It involves the deliberate practice of the skills necessary for conducting their research as well as the deliberate play necessary for energizing their approach. An artist scholar seeks inspiration from a wide variety of resources and muses and keeps an open mind.

Reward yourself for incremental successes and learn from your mistakes, but have high expectations, as any artist would – in other words, seek to transcend. An artist scholar respects the past but does not settle for stagnation or the status quo. They work to induce transformation and progress through their work – of themselves, of others, and of their field. Artist scholars will push themselves to learn, to grow, and to be more. Artist scholars push their field to consider new evidence, perspectives, and ideas.

In sum, what could I tell my “13-year-ago” self? I’d say to approach the goals, work, and expectations of scholarship as an artist would. I would challenge myself to be more than I was before. I would encourage myself to ask the following questions: “Are you an artist musician? Are you an artist teacher? Are you an artist scholar?” Perhaps, some of us here might consider asking yourselves… When I leave my music education experience at IU, will I be something I wasn’t before? You might aim to be a different musician, a different teacher, and also a scholar — and above all, to imbue each with artistry.

Theoretipracticaliexpealidocious

Preface

This post includes a few brief, light-hearted thoughts I put out to the music education graduate research colloquium today during our faculty roundtable on the theme of, “Intersections Between Research and Practice.” This event was intended to be an introductory colloquium during which the faculty shared 5- to 7-minute reflections on how they see their own research impacting their practical concerns. If you’re curious, this was my take…

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Sound City and McCartney’s Ease: A quest to be more like Paul this summer

The context:

I recently had a chance to see the movie, Sound City at the IU Cinema. Here’s an NPR story about it (Read it). It’s a fun documentary that chronicles the life of a recording studio by the same name in LA (Sound City Studios). It’s a neat story of a studio that seemed to have played a major role in the careers of some well-known pop/rock acts – the bits about Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, and Nirvana were particularly fun for me. The movie also covers the stories of the people ‘behind the scenes’ who operated the business and technical elements of the studio – which in lots of ways were more interesting than the musicians’ stories.

The centerpiece of the documentary is a Neve 8028 Console, a vintage piece of analog recording equipment that was integral to the studio’s success. There’s a hilarious scene where the designer of the board, Rupert Neve, is sitting with Dave Grohl explaining the electronics that allows for the console to capture such a great sound. The scene is hilarious because Dave Grohl is grinning like a clown and is in full admission that he has no idea what he’s talking about.

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Music Education: Snowballs, ice sculptures, and ice sculptures of snowballs

This a playful metaphorical reflection on what seem to be fairly periodic fluctuations in my thoughts on what it means to be building a career in academia as I’ve moved from being a graduate student to someone about to apply for tenure.

Maybe sometime you feel similarly about what you do?

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