Conceptual and Empirical Evidence for a Model of Applied Music Instruction Based on Cognitive Apprenticeship
The purpose of this descriptive study was to develop a theoretical model for collegiate applied music instruction based on cognitive apprenticeship–an instructional apprenticeship model intended to make the tacit understandings and processes of the expert available to the learner. In a cognitive apprenticeship classroom, skills, strategies and tacit processes are taught in a relevant context through methods such as modeling, scaffolding, reflection, and articulation. The connection between cognitive apprenticeship and applied music instruction has not been investigated, despite extant research that has characterized the latter as an apprenticeship.
I began by establishing a theoretical connection between cognitive apprenticeship and applied music instruction, referencing both constructivism and sociocultural theory. From this foundation, a preliminary conceptual model was derived. I then observed four highly successful collegiate-level applied music teachers from two disparate collegiate music environments (two teachers per school). Each teacher was videotaped teaching two one-hour lessons. I subsequently conducted interviews with teachers and students.
After coding and analysis, the data were organized according to emergent categories and themes. There was a strong association between cognitive apprenticeship and applied music instruction. Teachers revealed tacit processes related to performance in a contextual and supportive environment. Scaffolding and modeling were prevalent teacher behaviors, with instruction focused on the teaching of strategies, heuristics, and global ideas related to interpretation and performance. Students were active in articulation and reflection.
Cognizant of differences between teachers, I used the data from lessons and interviews to refine a model of applied music instructional model based on cognitive apprenticeship. The findings of the study suggest that the effectiveness of the applied lesson may, in part, be due to the use of specific instructional methods (especially modeling and scaffolding), the teaching of strategies and heuristics, the level of contribution of the student, and the embedding of the lesson within a community of practice.