Music Learning Networks: Supporting the Music Learning of Adolescents
Linsin, Tavis Nathanael
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The ways young musicians engage with and learn music are evolving. Technological advances, changes in the nature of schooling, the developing music landscape, shifting availability of formal and virtual learning opportunities, and the increasingly diverse group of young musicians engaging with music today are all drivers of this evolution. To better understand how young people learn music of personal significance, I adapted elements from ecological, multicultural, and social network related theories of learning in order to develop a network theory of music learning. Using this framework, I conducted a mixed methods study in a large city in the northeastern United States. Three hundred and forty-seven students in four sites completed surveys; eleven students from one site participated in focus groups. A key feature of this analysis is a substantial focus on the music learning opportunities and outcomes of low-income and otherwise marginalized students. Relatively few studies have explored the music learning and engagement of these populations. The research that has been done indicates that gaps exist in music learning opportunities and outcomes by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and school characteristics. I find that adolescent musicians navigate in and across multiple settings—formal, informal, and virtual—and form learning relationships with peers, teachers, and family members as they pursue their musical goals. Different settings and supporters can offer distinct kinds of support to learners, who actively make decisions about which settings and supporters to engage with. I show that the peer learning networks students form are systematically related to their music learning outcomes. The quality of the music learning environments students engage in and the degree of alignment between their musical interests and the environments in which they participate are on average positively and significantly related to learning outcomes. On average, low-SES students participate in music learning environments less frequently than high-SES students. They also participate in lower-quality environments. I advance a model of music learning and provide recommendations for learners, supporters, administrators, and policy makers to support the music learning of young people that promote equity and cultural recognition.
- Education - Seattle