A year ago, I would never have thought that one trip could completely reshape my senior year at Gettysburg College, creating opportunities for further travel and introducing me to a global community of music educators. But it did.
I came to Gettysburg looking for a full liberal arts education. Drawn to the school by opportunities to get involved with a strong marching band program, science department, and Conservatory, I went through three different majors before deciding on music education. I had always been involved with music and knew it was an interest of mine, but it took pursuing environmental science, to chemistry, to French, before I realized music was not just a hobby. It was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
I dove right into the course work, beginning my sophomore year with String Methods, and never looked back. With help from my advisors, Dr. Russ McCutcheon and Dr. Brent Talbot, I was able to complete my degree in just three years. The support I received—not only from every professor in the Sunderman Conservatory of Music, but also my peers in our music education family—reaffirmed my decision and helped me progress into the teacher and musician I am today.
In the fall of 2012, Dr. Talbot announced a course on Language, Culture, Immigration, and Music that he planned to teach in Bali, Indonesia for three weeks during the summer of 2013. My love for Balinese gamelan music, which was cultivated on campus, and my desire to study abroad made this journey to Indonesia a perfect union of my passions. I knew I had to get involved.
However in order to fly across the globe, I needed to find funding. With the help of my advisors and the Provost's office, I received a grant through the Mellon Foundation to conduct research with Dr. Talbot in Bali. Our work delved into the musical and linguistic negotiations of participants within the cross-cultural music learning contexts we were engaged with while in Bali.
It was an experience I'll never forget. All the students involved came away from the trip with a tremendous amount of musical growth as well as new views on language, education, time, cultural contexts, and the roles of teachers and students in the learning environment.
These outcomes contributed to my research as I transcribed and analyzed the collected data. My goal was to create a presentation for Celebration in the spring of 2014, but Dr. Talbot also encouraged me to explore presenting at other conferences. As a result, we submitted proposals and were accepted to both the New Directions in Music Education Conference at Michigan State University and the International Society for Music Education's World Conference on Music Education in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
At the New Directions Conference, held in March, I met professors from universities all over the country and discussed possibilities for collaborative research, as well as graduate school options for the future. It became clear amidst conversations that Dr. Talbot and our Conservatory’s music education program were greatly respected among the professors at the conference, and as a result many were interested in the unique work we had done.
Following student teaching and graduation in the spring, Dr. Talbot and I met back in Gettysburg to fly to Porto Alegre and conclude our year of research and travel. At ISME (International Society for Music Education) we reconnected with professors from the United States and Canada, while meeting others from Brazil, Mexico, Scotland, Singapore, and many other countries.
I was amazed to discover a worldwide network of scholars so passionate about music and music education. It was fascinating to witness how other countries teach music, and to see the similarities and differences between educational philosophies. This experience truly broadened my understanding of the field of music education and offered insights into our research.
Dr. Talbot and I rounded out the conference by taking a trip to Iguazu Falls, and exploring the culture of Porto Alegre with a group of Brazilian friends we met during our time in the city. Our experience in Brazil was an extraordinary adventure that solidified my views on the universality of music and music education.
At every turn throughout the research process, I was blown away by the amount of financial support offered to me from our college community. From receiving a Mellon grant, to obtaining conference funding from the Provost's office and the Conservatory, I really felt the college valued my research and the endeavors of its students. I feel very fortunate and grateful that Gettysburg College helped make my opportunities to travel around the world and research music a reality.
Article by Alice Broadway ’14