Education & Philosophy

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Urban Education and Policy – December 2006
Dissertation: Discourse and enactment in teacher preparation: Music teaching, ideology and urban education
Temple University
Masters of Music Education 
May 2001
Thesis: The application of a problem-posing and dialoguing pedagogy for the teaching of history and philosophy of music education to graduate music education majors: An action research
Westminster Choir College of Rider University
Masters of Music 
Voice Pedagogy – May 2001

Westminster Choir College of Rider University
Bachelor of Music
Music Education & Performance – December 1996
University of Rio de Janeiro – UNIRIO

As educators committed to keeping music as a vital enterprise to community and individuals alike, while facing the challenges of information-technology growth, swift and diverse cultural change, we are compelled to ask: What are the meanings, models and practices that humane systems of education should offer to an increasingly demanding social experience? Moreover, how do we enact them critically, responsibly and coherently?

As journalist Thomas Friedman has expressed, “the world is becoming increasingly flat.” This reality has led us toward greater productivity but also toward greater standardization and linearity. Therefore, mindful education must begin with three indispensable concepts: Dialogue, Critical Inquiry and Empowerment. Successful forms of education then result from instigating the desire or ‘need to know’ that all students possess. This humane vision of teaching views communication and dialogue as central and fosters an interactive commitment to both ethics and innovation.

If one is to educate according to these parameters, the necessary first step is to teach toward pedagogical and conceptual complexity. Music educational practices based on a clear understanding of complexity developed through critical inquiry and artistic creativity emphasize the multiple roles musics play in communities, and underline the emotional, cultural and economic capital they can generate in the lives of individuals. Music education, conceived in complex terms, empowers students to expand technical prowess into concrete artistic endeavors, and empowers educators to adapt content delivery into rigorous critical teaching.

Empowerment, however, cannot be bestowed. What we can do is create frameworks upon which reasonable and feasible spaces are created where innovation becomes a significant part of apprenticeship, and where skill development is contextualized by socially just practices. In practical terms, empowerment starts with a call for the uneasiness that constitutes reflective teaching, that is, it starts at the moment we, teachers, decide to take risks. Empowered students are likely to emerge from such environments, presenting the capacity to develop complex, integrated and challenging lifeworlds and consequently succeeding economically and culturally.

Too often, however, standards and teaching sequences foster a simplistic presentation of education as the ‘science of instruction’ where risk is discouraged. The result is what I call sequentialism, or the kind of teaching that works independently of the reactions, contexts, needs, or desires of students. Differently, music education can foster self-directed educational practices, moving us away from sequentialism and nurturing a concern with agency and action, while acknowledging plurality as essential in the formation of knowledge that can be creative and adaptable. In other words, thoughtful music educators can generate teaching that supports depth of understanding, while creatively pushing the boundaries of learned concepts—a fundamental challenge to any educator in 21st century.

As more and more musical learning is mediated by technology, our classrooms must assume the position that critical thinking should be directed at building one’s capacity for adaptability. At a time where music grows as a ‘portfolio’ career, music education is challenged to present instruction that is itself varied, addressing burgeoning genres and styles; fostering multiple musical opportunities, and connecting ‘school music’ to ‘musics-inthe-world.’ Reinvigorated music teaching, therefore, requires musical instruction that is not hapless and takes seriously the socio, cultural, and economic potential of music. Concretely, this might mean: 1) music studies that are compatible with economically viable models; 2) collaborative learning structures that expand and disrupt current labor parameters; 3) community engagements that lead to lifelong interaction with music; and 4) entrepreneurship at the center of new forms of communication and distribution of goods—artistic or otherwise. These are music educational discourses that teachers must consider and with which students are becoming quite familiar.

In conclusion, the ideals that support my educative practices are predicated upon the notion that teaching and learning are ethical encounters that promote the formation of educated individuals who are capable to frame their own worlds. The capacity to form frameworks—to shape and embrace changing elements or practices while understanding their complexities, intricacies, and delicate relations—is the indispensable ‘skill’ we must promote. It places our students and future music teachers as contributors to what Richard Florida has called ‘the creative society.’ Education then, is the nurturing of such capacities, hoping not for seismic transformation, but aiming at small, mindful, and recurrent shifts.