This inquiry is somewhat unusual, in that the Investigate, Create, and Discuss steps will all be done together. The investigation will focus on your own past and current experiences in learning about music. Your creation will be a record of what you learn in your investigation, and your discussions with others will also be focused on your investigation.
Step 1 - Begin by considering what you know about music, and trying to remember where you have learned it. You may have already received an extensive formal music education, or you may have picked up what you know about music more casually. Make a list of the experiences that have taught you most of what you know about music, and be sure to include any of the following types of experiences:
Formal music education
- Private music lessons on an instrument or voice
- One-on-one music instruction from a friend or relative
- Group music lessons
- Music classes
Learning by Doing
- School-based band, choir, or orchestra
- Community-based ensemble, such as a town band, community orchestra, or church choir
- Ensemble with friends, for example a "garage band"
- Professional or semi-professional ensemble
Casual Music Learning
- Watching and listening at concerts, dances, or other events that feature or include music
- Casual musical participation, for example joining in the singing or dancing at an event, or singing karaoke
- Listening to music and talking about music with friends or relatives
- Listening to music on your own
- Reading about music on your own
Step 2 - You are going to assess some of these experiences based on how well they have motivated you to learn more about music. Choose at least 3 experiences in which you learned something about music and were motivated to learn even more; that is, you were motivated to continue learning in that way for a long time, or else the experience inspired you to seek out other music-learning experiences. These should be specific experiences, for example, a particular school band that you played with for as many years as possible, or a concert where you learned about a particular style of dancing, which inspired you to take a dance class.
Also, choose at least 3 specific experiences that made you lose interest in learning about music. These might be, for example, lessons that you quit as soon as possible, or an experience with friends that caused you to conclude that you do not have enough musical talent.
If you are having trouble recognizing what you have already learned about music, consider looking at Ways of Knowing about Music. If you can't remember any specific music-learning experiences, discuss it in conversations with your relatives and friends. Your parents may be able to remind you, for example, of a short-lived effort at violin lessons, or your friends may recall classes, conversations, or outings that have slipped your mind.
List all six of the experiences that you have chosen, in a way that will let you make notes about each experience in steps three and four.
Step 3 - Write a short description of each experience, focusing on why it was motivating (or why not). For example, list specific things that happened, people who were involved, skills you gained, ideas you discovered, or feelings that you had, that made you want to learn more about music (or not).
If possible, get multiple perspectives on what happened by discussing the experiences with others who were there.
Step 4 - Finally, consider how music learning was "assessed" in each of those experiences. For example:
For each positive and each negative experience, note:
- Were there formal music-learning goals (specific skills or knowledge that you were supposed to gain)? If so, who decided on them? Were they in line with your interests? How aware were you of them? (If possible, check with teachers to discover what the official learning goals actually were.)
- What type of feedback did you get that indicated what others thought about your developing music skills or knowledge? (This could be either formal or informal feedback, for example, grades or reports from teachers, applause from audiences, critiques from judges, encouraging comments from fellow band members, or arguments with friends who disagreed with your statements about music.)
- Whether the feedback was formal or informal, was it primarily positive or negative, or a balanced mix? Were negative comments offered in a spirit of constructive criticism or in a spirit of discouragement? If at all possible, do some research to verify that your memories are accurate. Check report cards; look at the comments your teacher wrote in your lesson book; ask your friends, family, teachers, and peers what they remember about that experience.
- If you received no feedback at all (for example, if you attended a performance that inspired you to learn more), did the lack of feedback give you the confidence to learn more, or make you uncertain that you could succeed? What impression did you get from the experience about what kinds of judgments and assessments people make in that area of music? (For example, did you get the impression that that kind of music is learned just for fun, or that learners are held to high standards?) How accurate was that impression? (If possible, do a little research or discuss this with someone who knows about that subject, to find out.)
- Was feedback random (for example, unexpected comments from friends or peers); based on your improvement over time (for example, a gold star for learning a difficult new piece); graded on an absolute scale (for example, an A for completing the work expected in a course); or based on a comparison with other musicians (for example, winning a contest, or auditions for ranked seating within a group)?