Curriculum and assessment design


This research considers the synchronous creation of a faculty meta-ensemble emergent in the pivot to online music ensembles in 2021. The unit of study outline for Music Ensemble Performance mandates live ensembles in a Kolb-inspired experiential learning model, seemingly impossible to achieve in a pandemic. Eric Ries advocates for necessary change in strategy, where required, without a change in vision. This was also mandated by the published unit of study outline, which limited change possibilities. In this auto-ethnographic case study, faculty created their own co-teaching meta-ensemble to model collaborative musical behaviours. Keller and Appel (2010) note the importance of live embodiment of collaborative music making for sound synchronicity through shared gestures. It was initially unclear how this could be achieved through exclusive online learning. A necessary course pivot during the pandemic showed 1. Ensemble music making is a unique complex adaptive culture, also possible to create in an online environment; and 2. Faculty can model behaviours and structures that are able to mirror ensemble course outcomes. Instructional designers can also embody the courses they teach. This has implications for other teaching and learning contexts.

Practitioner Notes

  1. It is possible to deliver meaningful musical ensemble content online, including ensemble concepts of musical citizenry, positive peer dynamics and collaborative embodiment and gesture.
  2. Existing faculty skill sets can be leveraged through a co-teaching approach which uses pedagogical models designed to promote reflective practice and innovation.
  3. A range of technologies which promote a mix of synchronous and asynchronous communication and collaboration, as well as specialist software deployed through the Learning Management System are necessary for optimal student experience in an online environment.
  4. This study has implications for other teaching contexts where experiential learning is used, if faculty are willing to mirror experiential outcomes within their own student-facing practice.
  5. When students are given space to co-create curriculum with faculty, they become pioneers creating a shared memory, creatively working with the limitations and affordances of technology, to expand the definition and possibilities of music ensembles (live, hybrid and asynchronous) in their own creative practice.