“Let’s Play!”: A Multiple Case Study of Tertiary Music Methods Courses Designed to Foster Creativity

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“Let’s Play!”: A Multiple Case Study of Tertiary Music Methods Courses Designed to Foster Creativity

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Abstract“Let’s Play!”: A Multiple Case Study of Tertiary Methods Courses Designed to Foster Creativity By Timothy David Buzza School music offered in the traditional, large ensemble model can be a wonderful method of learning for some students; however, there are shortcomings in the model. In many school music programs, the lack of student creativity and democratic teaching practices do not fully serve the creative and educational needs of the students within those ensembles and often alienate other student musicians not participating in school music who learn, create, and perform music differently than the methods often employed in band, choir, and orchestra. How might a change in focus from one of re-creation to one of original, student-driven, musical creation, expand the learning and skills of those ensemble students already involved and provide more authentic music-learning opportunities in school for the vernacular musicians left out of traditional curricula and pedagogy? Are there professors in music education departments at the college level that understand these shortcomings and are preparing their preservice and graduate teachers to use student-generated, musical creativity to improve musicianship and inclusion? Are these courses effective in impacting teaching practices of their recent graduates who have come through and are often going to large ensemble-based programs? With the ambition of informing my own teaching practice and that of the field of music teacher preparedness at the undergraduate and graduate level, this multiple case study examines the philosophies, curricula, and pedagogy of three, tertiary, creativity- 2 based music methods courses and their described impact of recent graduates on their use of student musical creativity in their K12 teaching practice. The main research questions of this study are listed below: • How do three music-teacher educators, who specifically teach creativity- based methods courses, prepare preservice and graduate teachers to address the limitations of the large-ensemble model and foster creative musical thinking in students? • How do recent graduates from these specific courses describe the impact of creativity-based tertiary coursework on their current K-12 teaching? All the professors in the study shared the goals of opening their students’ minds to the educational and empowering opportunities that creativity provides in the music classroom through fun, hands-on compositional activities; to grant “permission” to step away from conservatory-based, top down teaching practices and embrace open-ended outcomes and democratic teaching practice; and to use in their own practice, an asset- model philosophy – calling on their own musical gifts and interests and those of their students in planning curricula and pedagogy. The recent graduates interviewed for this study described these creativity-based courses as impactful. All had their eyes opened to the educational and empowering potential of student creativity in musical classrooms. All incorporated elements of creativity and assets-model philosophy into their teaching practices; however, the context seemed to impact the extent of which student creativity was implemented. Those teaching in a general music setting developed and taught more creativity-based units than did those teaching in a large ensemble setting. 3 There are several educational philosophies and teaching strategies from these participating professors’ courses that teachers of music teachers could incorporate into their own practice if they wished to empower their own preservice and graduate teachers to employ student creativity for skills, empowerment, and inclusion.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. 2021. Major: Music Education. Advisor: Keitha Hamann. 1 computer file (PDF); 221 pages.

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Buzza, Timothy. (2022). “Let’s Play!”: A Multiple Case Study of Tertiary Music Methods Courses Designed to Foster Creativity. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/241361.

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