Many musical traditions value creative music making in the form of composition and improvisation. However, research indicates American public school teachers consider improvisation and composition among the least important and most difficult skills to teach. Because instrumental methods courses serve as one source for preparing future instrumental teachers, this mixed methods study elicited experiences, values, and decisions from a national population (N = 321) of instrumental methods instructors. The results of the national survey and interviews with selected participants (n = 8) served as the data sources. Results indicated general support for improvisation and composition in teacher preparation, but low levels of prioritization in instrumental methods courses. Instructors' comfort with those skills, curricular space, and preparation for existing jobs were among reported barriers to prioritizing composition and improvisation in coursework. Recommendations include greater intentionality in planning for composition and improvisation by teacher educators, professional development opportunities for in-service teachers, and encouraging future music teachers to seek musical experiences beyond typical requirements.
Penn State University Altoona, Music, Faculty Member