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Student Pathways at the Community Music Center of Boston

Creative Inquiry Labs Tavis N. Linsin, PhD

December 2023

We all know someone who loves music but has been pushed away by a school or teacher. As music educators, it is heartbreaking to see. So how do you build a program to ensure that never happens?

Tavis Linsin, PhD of Creative Inquiry Labs, worked alongside our faculty and staff on refining our Student Pathways, implementing them, and building teacher training curricula. His report, co-authored with CMCB, shares the findings from the past year.

Executive Summary

A critical challenge in the field of music education is to provide high quality music learning experiences for all learners–particularly students of color and students from low-income families who often face structural barriers to participation in music learning opportunities. An additional and equally important challenge is to provide music learning experiences that are culturally relevant, responsive, and sustaining. The Community Music Center of Boston’s (CMCB) 2021-2026 strategic plan was developed to address these and other music learning challenges and opportunities faced by CMCB stakeholders in Boston. In 2022 and 2023, Creative Inquiry Labs partnered with CMCB to collectively engage in inquiry to advance four key objectives highlighted in CMCB’s Strategic Plan:

1.1. STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE: Sharpen program design toward realizing culturally inclusive and learner-centered outcomes

1.2. STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE: Support faculty (CEP and CMS) as they deliver culturally inclusive and learner-centered programs

1.3. STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE: Invest in CMCB faculty

1.5. STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE: Clarify and measure outcomes

Research Questions

The research questions that guided this inquiry are—

1) How can CMCB stakeholders modify CMCB curriculum to better align with and reflect the authentic and diverse patterns of musical participation of CMCB students?

2) How can CMCB stakeholders cultivate a culturally responsive teaching and equity pedagogy at CMCB to support students from diverse racial/ ethnic, socioeconomic, and gender groups?

3) How can CMCB teachers and staff be supported to cultivate and successfully implement multicultural music education practices to support learners and to empower all at CMCB to effect social change in and through music and music education?

To answer these questions, Creative Inquiry Labs and CMCB engaged in a design-based inquiry process consisting of two primary components: a professional development strand and a curriculum development strand. The professional development strand highlighted relevant findings from current music education research, best practices from exemplar peer music education institutions, and outstanding and inclusive curriculum content and teaching practice taking place within CMCB. The curriculum development strand focused on utilizing resources and practices offered during professional development sessions to inform curriculum and instruction across CMCB. Focus groups were conducted with CMCB Faculty Instructional Leads, and other forms of qualitative data were gathered from CMCB faculty and staff and analyzed.

Key Findings

Key findings from this inquiry included-

  • Strategies to utilize multicultural music education curriculum and pedagogy effectively at CMCB.
  • Approaches to implement culturally relevant, responsive, and sustaining music education pedagogies and adapt them to the CMCB context.
  • The beginnings of a CMCB resource center highlighting exemplary curriculum and teaching practice developed and utilized by CMCB staff.
  • The creation of a novel teaching and learning framework at CMCB: the Student Pathways Framework. The Student Pathways are empirical means of guiding and organizing curriculum and instruction at CMCB to achieve the learning outcomes that CMCB stakeholders value.
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Many Paths to a Life of Music

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Student Pathways at the Community Music Center of Boston

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