New TOPICS Articles (September 12, 2023)

The MayDay Group journal TOPICS (Themes, Opinion, Policy, Innovation, Curriculum, and Strategies for Music Education Praxis) is pleased to announce publication of two new articles about teaching music education in higher education settings.

TOPICS is a peer-reviewed journal of the MayDay Group, intended to fill the gap between music education scholarship and practice.  In particular, it focuses on the “practice” (practical, praxial, pragmatic) side of the “theory into practice” and “practice into theory” problematic by publishing papers, articles, documents, and other texts that that make a contribution to praxis and praxial theory. Manuscript submissions now being accepted at the link.

Vernacular Music and Theories of Change: Transformation on Intersecting Paths

Nathan B. Kruse

 Vernacular music-making continues to be a prominent topic in music education discourse. However, the degree to which school music teachers choose to implement vernacular music practices is unclear, as are the factors that inspire change in teaching practice. This four- part article highlights the complexities surrounding curricular innovation and implementation, as well as the interplay between theory and praxis in music teaching and learning. Specifically, this inquiry features the precepts of three change theories and how their tenets can be applied to vernacular teaching practices in school music settings. A college-level vernacular music class is presented as one model for preparing preservice music teachers to meet the needs of 21st-century students. Considering the ways in which music teachers apply vernacular practices to school settings could help to illuminate the intersecting paths of theory and practice in an evolving music education discourse.

The Courage to Teach Free Improvisation In and Through a Graduate Music Education Class 

Gareth Dylan Smith

In this article I describe my affinity for improvisation in music and life, and for free improvisation in particular as a music making practice. In this self-reflective position paper, I use these practices to help locate and define an authentic sense of self as a music education professor. This paper gives an account of my introduction of free improvisation sessions into a weekly, in-person graduate class in psychology and sociology related to music education. Drawing on relevant literature and a university-wide learning initiative, I present my reflections and those of my students on the experience of doing free improvisation over the duration of one semester, that led to enjoyment, growth, and flourishing. In closing, I consider the potential for doing more free improvisation in music and music education classes.

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