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ASU Music Learning and Teaching to host national symposium on music education


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The Desert Skies Music Symposium on Research in Music Education, one of the longest continuously running independent research forums of its kind in the United States, will be held at Arizona State University Feb. 16–18.

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February 14, 2023

The Desert Skies Music Symposium on Research in Music Education, one of the longest continuously running independent research forums of its kind in the United States, will be held at Arizona State University Feb. 16–18. 

The symposium is open to college and university faculty, pre-K–12 music educators, teaching artists and community music educators and provides a forum for presentations of research about music teaching and learning in any context. 

The conference focuses on persistent questions in education, the arts and culture and is open to a broad range of presenters and researchers from across the United States. The conference schedule and sessions are designed to be interactive, with opportunities to be in dialogue with one another about urgent matters in the music education field, particularly matters of justice, inclusion and diversity.

Keynote speakers include Lois Brown, Foundation Professor of English and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, and Warren H. Stewart Sr., senior pastor of the First Institutional Baptist Church of Phoenix.

“This conference is unique to music learning and teaching in a number of ways, including cultivating an encouraging space for emerging scholars (i.e., doctoral students and early-career scholars) to share their work and receive constructive feedback,” said Joyce McCall, assistant professor of music learning and teaching in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre and Desert Skies National Board member.

McCall said this approach is not always available in other music learning and teaching conferences. She said the conference also has a unique approach to how presenters share their work. Instead of sharing their work through a traditional lecture style, presenters do so in small groups.

“This was intentional in its design in that this conference aims to foster community, support and also give attendees opportunities to connect with a wealth of scholars and teachers in the United States and abroad,” McCall said.

The planning committee for the symposium includes McCall, Sandra Stauffer, vice dean of the academic enterprise in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and professor in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, and Matthew Fiorentino, assistant professor in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre.

The committee planned the logistics for the conference, including selecting the two keynote speakers to further efforts to instigate social action in music education.

“By design, this conference widens its doors in ways that traditional conferences in the music education field do not,” McCall said. “This is especially important for emerging scholars, particularly those whose spaces may not foster or support research that does not reflect white, Western or Anglo epistemological and/or ontological perspectives. One of several of the goals of this conference is encourage work that is creative, thoughtful, intellectually engaging and transformative.”

The symposium, founded in 1989 by the music education faculty of the University of Arizona, moved to ASU in 2017 and is held in February of odd-numbered years. Desert Skies 2023 is made possible in part by sponsorship from ArtsWork: The Kax K. Herberger Center for Children and the Arts.

ASU faculty, staff and students can attend the conference, keynote speakers' presentations or any session for free with registration.

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