Toward Convergence: Adapting Music Education to Contemporary Society and Participatory Culture, by Evan S. Tobias
Tobias, E. S. (2013). Toward Convergence Adapting Music Education to Contemporary Society and Participatory Culture. Music Educators Journal, 99(4), 29-36.
Evan Tobias provides an article about the need to focus on implementing a participatory culture inside the musical classroom. In this article, Tobias shares his experience and ideas on how we as music educators should look at offering students the freedom to express their music creatively, while at the same time finding a middle ground between traditional pedagogical teaching and modern contemporary thinking.
Tobias discusses the common ways students have engaged in music in a creative manner. His main focus is based on the idea of “participatory culture”, where there are “relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing creations with others… members who feel their contributions matter, and members who feel some degree of social connection with one another.” (30) To me, I feel that this idea of participatory culture is something that could benefit a music program, depending on how students respond to the idea. The fact that music and the way we produce and share music is constantly evolving is something that we can all agree upon. With this in mind, I feel that there should be things done and experimented with in order to obtain the goal behind this idea, and Tobias offers a couple of examples to test in the classroom.
What also caught my attention was the focus on convergence inside the classroom. From what Tobias writes, I feel that what he suggests about the need for change is what made me feel slightly negative on this idea of convergent teaching. Personally, I can sometimes adapt, or become attached to nostalgic feelings. At the same time, I understand that as music evolves, so does its teaching styles. Looking at Tobias’ point of view, I can see that this convergence is something that students can enjoy by doing something relatable to what is trending in the modern musical world.
Despite saying that students should be able to express themselves freely, there still is the lingering problem with the Copyright Act and Fair Use. While I can see that taking someone’s existing work can be seen as “stealing”, I would say that the Copyright Act shouldn’t impede on a student’s desire to show their creativity, so long as they follow the rules according to the act. The fact that the regulations of the act are very subjective to one’s personal opinion is what shocks me. Nonetheless, I feel that as long as students understand the rules and regulations, they should be able to use other people’s ideas and involve them in their own projects.
I feel that Tobias has brought up many points about converging two different ways of teaching in order to direct students to a “participatory culture”. While there needs to be change in order for this to happen, I believe that it is a step in the right direction in order to keep up in an ever-changing musical society.
What Would I Ask the Author?
- Would you say that the Copyright Act should be altered in a way where students are less restricted to what they can use in their projects in music?