Putting on a show: Engaging and authentic learning in experiential music education

Year: 2006

Author: Southcott, Jane

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Advocacy for school music is imperative in the current educational climate. Recently arguments have had degrees of popularity - music to engender creativity, 'to make you smarter', for social enrichment, and so forth. The frequent calls for 'real life', 'authentic' experiences in education in which students gain 'deep understanding' of 'essential learning', offer educators another avenue for advocacy. In secondary schools, many music educators are responsible for major school music theatre productions. These seem to function similarly to both amateur and professional theatre and can be understood as both 'essential learning' and authentic-context experience. The inclusion of such activity in teacher education can also emulate real life experiences for future educators. For the past decade, the creation and presentation of a major music theatre work has been a significant component of the 4th-year pre-service secondary teacher education programme at Monash University. This paper considers such music theatre productions as experiential education and articulates the potential benefits and pitfalls. Past students were interviewed about their perceptions of the experience and its influence on their later teaching. Such critical reflection demonstrates change that is, in experiential education termed 'transfer', completing the experiential learning cycle and offering an advocacy position for music in schools.