Lucy Green’s “Music, Informal Learning and the School: A New Classroom Pedagogy”

‘If you want to teach popular music in schools then find out how successful popular musicians learn and apply these methods in the classroom. This blindingly simple insight has eluded much pedagogic practice to date. By innovatively theorising, demonstrating, and assessing the practical implementation of this, Lucy Green may have provided a manifesto for rebalancing classroom music teaching and setting it on a new and more fruitful track.’   John Sloboda, FBA. Keele University. Author of The Musical Mind

Music informal learning and the schoolLucy Green’s pioneering book, Music, Informal Learning and the School, reveals how the music classroom can draw upon the world of popular musicians’ informal learning practices, so as to recognize and foster a range of musical skills and knowledge that have long been overlooked within music education.

It investigates how far informal learning practices are possible and desirable in a classroom context; how they can affect young teenagers’ musical skill and knowledge acquisition; and how they can change the ways students listen to, understand and appreciate music as critical listeners, not only in relation to what they already know, but beyond.

It examines students’ motivations towards music education, their autonomy as learners, and their capacity to work co-operatively in groups without instructional guidance from teachers.

It suggests how we can awaken students’ awareness of their own musicality, particularly those who might not otherwise be reached by music education, putting the potential for musical development and participation into their own hands.

Bringing informal learning practices into a school environment is challenging for teachers. It can appear to conflict with their views of professionalism, and may at times seem to run against official educational discourses, pedagogic methods and curricular requirements. But any conflict is more apparent than real, for this book shows how informal learning practices can introduce fresh, constructive ways for music teachers to understand and approach their work. It offers a critical pedagogy for music, not as mere theory, but as an analytical account of practices which have fundamentally influenced the perspectives of the teachers involved.

Through its grounded examples and discussions of alternative approaches to classroom work and classroom relations, the book reaches out beyond music to other curriculum subjects, and wider debates about pedagogy and curriculum.

‘… this is a very important music education book, not only challenging established views and prejudices of music teaching, but also demonstrating how teachers could act to make a difference and work for change. Reading this book is a must for every music educator, not necessarily with the aim of copying every detail of the project, but to relate to, reflect and act upon in his/her ongoing music teaching. This project is also a very good example of praxis-based research. The thick descriptions and the sharp, well-structured analyses offer a great amount of valuable knowledge to researchers as well as educators.’ Music Education Research

‘Viewed altogether, the Musical Futures initiative, the empirical authority and depth of this project, and finally this compelling and excellent book, make a major contribution to music education. Music, Informal Learning and the School should be on the reading list of everyone who believes in the power of music to transform the lives of young people everywhere.’ Classroom Music Magazine

‘… an important book that chronicles the realities of taking seriously the values and views of adolescents as to their music and the ways in which they prefer to know it better. It gives pause for putting into practice what has been discussed and debated for some time in music education, and in education at large, and paves the way for further developments in making music reasonable and relevant for students in secondary schools.’ British Journal of Music Education

‘Apart from the teaching strategies and learning approaches demonstrated by Green, there is much here that music educators can use. … Music, Informal Learning and the School opens a discourse about music education that can only benefit music education as a whole. Books such as this rarely appear. If you have any passion for music education, this one will be for immediate consumption. Agreement is not compulsory; entering into the debate is.’ Research Studies in Music Education

About the Author: Lucy Green is Professor of Music Education in The Institute of Education, University of London, UK.

What can teachers learn from popular musicians? Watch Lucy Green in conversation with doctoral student Flávia Narita on Youtube

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