Category Archives: Music education

Microaggressions and mental health risks faced by LGBTQ+ music teachers

Music teachers are generally exposed to work-related stressors sufficient to negatively impact their mental health, and both the COVID-19 pandemic and culture wars have amplified the likelihood of teacher-targeted bullying and harassment. LGBTQ+ teachers, however, have been historically more likely to experience workplace discrimination, and many are even more at risk since the advent of the third wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the United States. For instance, 588 antitransgender laws were introduced across the United States, 85 of which passed in 2023.

Given the absence of a body of LGBTQ+ music teacher mental health research, a review of the literature on teacher mental health, music teacher mental health, LGBTQ+ teacher mental health, and LGBTQ+ music teacher studies reveal the threats to mental health that LGBTQ+ music teachers may encounter as a result of their work. Microaggressive stress theory is used to consider the ways that harassment and discrimination can lead to mental distress. Microaggressions can be delivered verbally, nonverbally, and environmentally. Although verbal and nonverbal microaggressions are more easily defined and noticed, environmental microaggressions include demeaning and threatening social, educational, political, or economic cues that are communicated individually, institutionally, or societally to marginalized groups. Microaggressions may be conveyed both consciously and unconsciously and can take the forms of microinsults, microassaults, and microinvalidations. Recommendations to prevent such stressors include implementing microintervention education and expanding access to mentorship, support groups, and mental health care.

This according to “Microaggressive stress and identity trauma: The work-related mental health risks of LGBTQ+ music teachers” by Tawnya D. Smith (Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education 238 [fall 2023] 7–22; RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text, 2023-19631).

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Filed under Gender and sexuality, Music education

Towards global knowledge, decolonization, and preservation

On 9 February 2024, RILM presents a panel titled “Towards Global Knowledge, Decolonization, and Preservation—Challenges and Opportunities Through Culture and Arts Education” as part of the UNESCO World Conference on Culture and Arts Education 2024. The four presentations in this side event are all rooted in the understanding that information literacy is a fundamental pillar in education—each presentation pivots on the notion of global knowledge as a foundation of culture and arts education. After RILM Director Tina Frühauf opens the panel with discussion of a broader theoretical framework, the second presentation by Executive Editor Zdravko Blažeković examines RILM as a model that underlines the importance of a global approach to information literacy. The following presentation by RILM Associate Editor Farah Zahra presents a local perspective, using the case of Iraqi literature and knowledge as an example. The final presentation by RILM Editor MU Qian highlights decolonization (understood here as an ongoing process) as an additional objective for the UNESCO Framework for Culture and Arts Education, taking the treatment of Uygur culture as a case in point.

For further information on RILM’s panel and information on joining the presentation, please visit https://www.rilm.org/wccae2024/

For more information on UNESCO World Conference on Culture and Arts Education 2024, visit https://www.unesco.org/en/wccae2024?hub=86510

Also, be sure to check out RILM’s resources for learning including materials for teachers, students, performers, and music researchers interested in RILM’s rich music databases, research tools, and full-text publications. Learn more at https://www.rilm.org/classrooms/

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Filed under Music education, RILM, RILM news

Mindfulness and music learning

The practice of mindfulness can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the autonomic nervous system that counteracts the effects of stress in our minds and bodies. Research on mindfulness and meditation has shown that these practices have the capacity to decrease the size of the amygdala, known as the brain’s “panic button” in charge of responses associated with fear, anxiety and strong emotions.

Mindfulness has become increasingly common in the workplace, the healthcare profession, and many school programs.  In recent years, the incorporation of deep breathing techniques, mindful movements, and guided visualizations has also been used at all levels of music teaching, allowing students to leave stressors behind while fully engaging in the learning experience. For instance, when music students learn to utilize their breath as an anchor, they learn to connect to the present moment, to reflect on their playing with self-compassion, and to nurture deeper listening skills.

Some of the possible benefits of mindfulness for musicians include:

Improvement of students’ mood during lessons, making the learning process a positive experience.

Increased body awareness and mind/body connection, promoting healthy technique.

Decreased tension while playing. Increased active listening, shaping, phrasing and musicality.

Improvement in capacity to focus and concentrate during lessons and performances.

Improvement in memorization and reduction in performance anxiety.

Increased self-compassion and kindness in the face of mistakes.

Celebrate International Education Day (January 24) by reading “Mindfulness in music teaching: Practical applications to piano lessons” by Fernanda Nieto (MTNA e-journal 14.3 [February 2023], 28-29). Find it in RILM Abstracts with Full Text.

Below are further ideas from the text related to mindfulness and piano instruction.

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Filed under Music education, Science