Music Education – Musical Learning And Transfer

The common definition of transfer is to carry or shift from one place to another. One of our goals in music education is for students to become knowledgeable about music and to be able to transfer that knowledge from one musical setting to another. As you read this article, view yourself as a parent or teacher involving the child in constructive and enjoyable musical learning.

The transfer of skills and knowledge takes place as children progress from one level of understanding to another. Refer to the child’s previous experience and performance of the musical elements to aid the transfer process. The way we plan and implement transfer processes impacts the choice of music activities. Select teaching strategies that will provide ample opportunity for the children to make musical connections.

Involve the child in discovering and exploring the relationship between the new learning experience and his or her current knowledge. For example, understanding that two quarter notes tied together equal one half note.

Many years ago, one of my choral students, who was musically literate and conversant with reading music notation from basic choral scores, decided to join band. On the student’s first day in band class, the band director was stymied by the student’s difficulty in reading the music from an instrumental score. We discovered that the student was having difficulty transferring musical information from one format to another. Therefore, pay close attention to the format in which musical notation and information is presented to the students and help them make the transition from one format to another. A simple example of this might be learning to read rhythms with syllables or in “stick” notation and then progressing to standard rhythm notation.

Students should practice skills and music behaviors in a variety of settings. Through repetition and multiple applications of their musical learnings, we are enhancing their ability to transfer these learnings with understanding from one musical setting to another.

We are the engineers of successful musical learning for our children through the use of transfer.

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