From theory to practice: inspiring books for music educators

From Theory To Practice: Inspiring Books for Music Educators

Reading is something I have enjoyed since the time I was young and would sneak a flashlight under the covers to read after bedtime. Although I read a lot of research articles these days, there are several books I read over the last few months that I really enjoyed! As music teachers, we should also be lifelong learners, and books are perfect for that! I encourage you to check out some of these books for music educators. 

From theory to practice: inspiring books for music educators

Recommended Books for Music Educators

Upbeat! Mindset, Mindfulness, and Leadership in Music Education and Beyond by Dr. Matthew Arau is a must-read for all music educators. I purchased this book shortly after it came out in 2022, but for various reasons had to step away and finally finished it this summer. The book is divided into three sections: Ignite, Inspire, and Lead, each of which offers ideas for music teachers and music students. It will help teachers build the culture of their music programs while providing strategies for creating a sustainable career. Each chapter contains a story from a music educator, suggestions for application, journal questions, and quotes. This book will transform you and your music program! It’s also available through GIA Publications

Book cover: Upbeat: Mindset, mindfulness and leadership in music education and beyond

This next book I found when searching for a text for a course I was teaching through VanderCook College of Music. It was exactly what we needed! Music Learning Today: Digital Pedagogy for Creating, Performing, and Responding to Music was written by Dr. William I. Bauer. It was originally published in 2014, with a second edition released in 2020. The book is centered on the research-based conceptual model, TPACK – Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge – that describes the three types of knowledge educators need to effectively incorporate technology in their teaching. Bauer uses the artistic processes of Creating, Performing, and Responding, which correspond to the National Core Arts Standards, and describes meaningful ways to use technology within each process. While the book discusses general uses for technology, the accompanying website lists specific tech tools.The reminder for teachers to think about the intersection between their technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge reiterates the importance of using technology purposefully to provide musical value. 

Book cover: Music learning today

I’ve always loved reading books somewhat outside the realm of music education, because I think there are a lot of connections that can be made. Two Beats Ahead: What Musical Minds Teach Us About Innovation, by Panos A. Panay and R. Michael Hendrix, is a fascinating investigation into the innovative minds of some incredible musicians. Throughout the book, Panay and Hendrix share stories from musicians such as Beyonce, Pharrell Williams, Gloria Estefan, and more. It’s a great reminder that we shouldn’t be narrow-minded in our definition of “musicianship” and that there are many people making remarkable music every day! 

Book cover: Two beats ahead

What’s Up Next?

The next few books I am currently reading, and already know they’re making an impact! I’ll report back in a few months with more details 😊

Music Education for Social Change: Constructing an Activist Music Education, by Juliet Hess, is definitely a research-based book, but it really speaks to some important topics in education today. So far, it’s providing some interesting ideas about what might be possible through music education.  

A second edition of Culturally Responsive Teaching in Music Education: From Understanding to Application was released by Constance McKoy and Vicki Lund in 2023. The book provides readers both with an understanding of what culturally responsive teaching is, and what it can look like in music classes. 

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t share my two publications, Pass the Baton: Empowering All Music Students and Empowering Ensembles with Technology: The Ensemble Director’s Guide to Teaching With Tech. Both are practical and actionable, providing strategies that any music educator can use. 

So now I ask – what are YOU reading? What do you recommend I add to the list?  

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