Educational practice, musicianship and dyslexia – Dr Laurel Parsons, today! 4pm

This IMHSD seminar will take place today at 4pm in the Atrium, Alison House — A fascinating topic for music educationalists in Higher Education, and very important.

In HE we have more control over our curricula – and the potential to be quicker in our response to current research evidence – than mainstream school education.  How well do we use that when it comes to teaching (and reinforcing) the rudiments of musicianship? My own experiences in devising and delivering core musicianship training for first-year undergraduate students has shown me both the challenges and rewards of implementing adjustments for students with disabilities. This can only happen where those students have made arrangements to undergo screening/interview with the University Student Disability Service. The resulting schedule of adjustments (e.g. more time to complete work and to sit exams) need to be sensibly and sometimes creatively applied to be of value – for example, in a course that uses musical examples to gauge a students’ acquisition of aural discrimination skills it is no use to have an extra 15 minutes duration stuck on to the end of the exam.  Even where a students’ adjustments have been thoughtfully implemented, the whole process undoubtedly reveals a tension between the presumed requirements and expectations of our aural and literacy training, and the implications for all of our students’ identity and self-perceptions as a musician. I am looking forward to hearing Dr Parsons’ talk!

Speaker: Dr Laurel Parsons
Date/Time: Wednesday 3rd May 2017, 4pm
Location: Atrium, Alison House
Title: Do Our Teaching Practices Enable or Disable Musicianship? Learning from the Experiences of Post-Secondary Music Students with Dyslexia
Post-secondary music students with dyslexia or other learning disabilities are what some special education researchers call “twice-exceptional”: gifted in one respect, but impaired in another. For these students, musicianship tests such as sight-singing or melodic transcription that demand rapid processing of music notation may pose an overwhelming challenge—one that can have a profound impact on their sense of identity as musicians. For instructors, the experiences of these students provide an opportunity to reflect on whether our pedagogical practices are enabling or disabling their skills development. More fundamentally, what messages do we send through these practices about what “musicianship” is, and what it means to “be a musician,” not just inside our institutional bubbles, but in the world? Participants are invited to bring a small mirror.
Dr. Laurel Parsons is a music theorist and award-winning instructor based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her teaching appointments have included the University of Victoria, the University of British Columbia, Queen’s University, and the University of Oregon. She began tutoring university opera majors with dyslexia and other learning differences in 2008, and collaborated on an interdisciplinary research project at the University of British Columbia exploring the experiences of opera students with learning disabilities. Her article “Dyslexia and Post-Secondary Aural Skills Instruction” is published in Music Theory Online (2015). Dr. Parsons is also co-editor, with Brenda Ravenscroft, of Analytical Essays on Music by Women Composers (Oxford University Press, 2016), a four-volume multi-author collection providing detailed studies of compositions by women from Hildegard to the present.

About Nikki

Nikki is Senior Lecturer in Music at Edinburgh University.
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