Advocacy and Cognition (2017 National NAfME in-service Conference, Day 4), Part 1

This conference went faster than I thought. It’s already the last day, and I’m wishing their research conference (March 2018) was starting tomorrow! The National Association for Music Education has provided me so much information I can take home and implement into my short-term and long-term plans.

Today, I attended two sessions – one on advocacy and one on cognition. The seminar on cognition appeared to be the only one at this conference that dealt with music cognition.

Credit: Washington University in St Louis Magazine

While the World Class Minds workshop did provide a basic overall background of how music can be correlated with improved cognition, I was most impressed with Dr. Aurelia Hartenberger‘s emphasis on instilling and improving students’ creativity, which she explained through the individualist approach and sociocultural approach. The individualist approach, which includes Jean Piaget’s experimental cognitive psychology and Gordon Allport’s personality psychology, may be best beneficial to those outside of school, but the sociocultural approach can greatly improve k-12 music classes.

Hartenberger (2017) defines the sociocultural approach as one where “groups collectively generate innovation”. It is a study of “creative people working together in social and cultural systems”. Explaining how the creative process can take place in the classroom, Hartenberger (2017) offered these eight stages:

  1. Find and formulate the problem so that it is more likely to lead to a creative solution.
  2. Acquire knowledge relevant to the problem.
  3. Gather a broad range of potentially related information.
  4. Take time off for incubation.
  5. Generate a large variety of ideas.
  6. Combine ideas in unexpected ways.
  7. Select the best ideas, applying relevant criteria.
  8. Externalize the idea using materials using materials and representations.

One thing I appreciated in her presentation was that a process can’t be considered creativity unless it is expressed in some way.

So, how does a teacher ask creativity of music students? Hartenberger offered a few examples.

Credit: Wuhuiru55/Wikimedia Commons

In a music appreciation class, rather than just teach the students about classical music, she instructed them to develop an instrument and a composition. This is a huge ask for non-music students, but it required creativity as students worked together to learn about sounds, rhythms, instruments, and notation. In another instance, she offered asking students how can they best strategize for optimal rehearsal. The goal is giving the students autonomy to create and explain their music.

Wow, explaining this one seminar took a whole blog! Look to my next one to talk about the last things I learned about advocacy.

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