A Case Study Exploring the Use of Garageband™ and an Electronic Bulletin Board in Preservice Music Education

Oct. 01, 2011

Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 11(4), 398-419, 2011.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This qualitative research study is an exploration of the merit and shortcomings of using a combination of GarageBand™ and an electronic bulletin board to facilitate musical and peer learning in a 3-month elementary music methods curriculum and instruction course.
Specifically, this study was designed to examine whether the integration of digital learning technologies in teacher education programs enhances a larger educational mission to foster preservice teachers’ understanding of music and digital literacy.

The study addressed to the following research questions:
1. What are preservice teachers’ existing notions of music literacy teaching and learning?
2.How do preservice teachers experience digital literacy in the context of their music methods course?

This study was conducted within an elementary teacher-education cohort known as CITE: A Community of Inquiry in Teacher Education.
The participants were the music education instructor and 17 of the 36 preservice teachers enrolled in her class.
Data were collected through final interviews conducted with the instructor and the preservice teachers, and field notes of the preservice teacher and instructor comments during exit interviews.


The findings reveal that the majority of participating preservice teachers subscribed to an understanding of music literacy based upon traditional values of developing students’ notation skills and fostering their appreciation of “the classics” and “the masters.”
This perspective is devoid of a sociocultural understanding of music literacy that includes cultural and historical constructs of music.
It upholds a process of learning to play and read music by conventional means common in Western cultures, especially using musical instruments.

Although a framework for learning was in place, the process was designed as organic, developing with each exchange of musical selections and accompanying reviews and responses.
For those accustomed to teacher-centered instruction, this created a measure of initial anxiety.
For instance, two preservice teachers voiced concern over the lack of response to their posts.

Although all participants were required to respond to a minimum of three music selections, the postings of these two preservice teachers did not receive a response until nearly the end of the required time period.
These participants posting their selections for peer critique felt concern and anxiety.

Furthermore, sharing their playlists online (as well as their thoughts, feelings, and images about these musical selections) encouraged reflective practice and a process of peer learning, providing opportunities for students to learn about their peers and broaden their participation in a community of inquiry.
The majority of the preservice teachers viewed the process as a valuable experience and acknowledged the potential for GarageBand ™and electronic bulletin boards.
However, 13 of the 17 participants commented on the time required to learn the software and adjust to the notion of using digital learning technologies (DLT) within their music methods course, as well as for the independent learning process as a whole.


The authors argue that a necessary shift in perspective was a reevaluation of the purpose of music education, as well as subject-specific literacy practice.
The necessity to disrupt existing conceptions of music literacy becomes evident if the intent is to encourage preservice teachers to develop music literacy in all children rather than performance ability in a few.
However, this shift would require an improved understanding for how to develop critical listening and thinking about diverse musical samples and to participate in musical communities of inquiry to encourage a democratic, collaborative approach to music education.

Furthermore, few music educators and programs are up-to-date on the contemporary popular music from which their students are gaining a musical education outside school through MTV, VH1, radio, and CDs.
In that extra-school phase of their music education, children and young people are experiencing a variety of music, responding naturally to its expressive effect, thinking about it, talking about it, serving as critics of it, making choices about it, and using it to enrich their lives.

An awareness of the ways in which learners can now access, share and experience music from around the world is not enough.
Instead, teachers must develop an awareness of the affordances of the various DLT now used to compose music .
Developing critical awareness and engaging in reflective thinking about music requires time.
In order to foster communities of inquiry across curricula and to disrupt conventional notions of literacy, preservice teachers as well as their future students will require greater control over opportunities to express and develop ideas using multiple literacies, including musical and digital literacy.

Updated: Dec. 17, 2014