Building Bridges between Students and Classroom Teachers in Music Education
III. The Example: Accompagnato Model in Vienna, Cologne and Ljubljana
Accompagnato was developed to answer the need to build a bridge between professional music teaching in the classroom and music students in the initial phase of the job. The course also offers individual coaching for this target group. The aim of the course is to serve teachers as a tool for personal quality management and for cooperative peer mentoring.
Criteria for selecting it as an Example of Practice
The criteria for selecting the model in the context of meNet correspond to the meNet criteria for examples in music teacher training and to the criteria for examples in Lifelong learning, voted for by the meNet group. Because of the heavily individualised focus in a course that links professional with personal development, this project can be considered innovative rather than typical.
The Accompagnato Model is an example of a teacher training programme for Lifelong Learning. It was developed and tested with music teachers for more than ten years. The following concept is described as it was implemented in Austria, Germany and Slovenia. Subsequently, adaptations were developed in Germany, Sweden, Slovenia and Switzerland.
The course was developed at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna in 1997 and expanded further within a Comenius 2.1 EU project from 2001 to 2004 as the point of departure and a stimulus for the development of other similar course models (see also www.accompagnato.at).
III. The Example: Accompagnato Model in Vienna, Cologne and Ljubljana
Principles of Course Work
· The importance attached to the idea of inclusiveness is shown by the fact that the make-up of the groups encompasses different institutions.
· The course uses various methods such as
· Plenary meetings, peer-group learning, individual coaching. Various ways of self-reflection and reflecting on the job, methods of dialogue, creative forms of presentation using different media, bodywork, approaches and attitudes and nonverbal methods of learning.
· These methods aim for a strong interconnection between personal and professional development.
· A part of the work takes place directly in the various schools of the participants and daily school experience is a continuous focal point of discussions and course work at the university.
· The content of the course is essentially determined and structured by the course participants. Their personal interests and objectives have a prominent position in the course sessions
Impetus and Educational Focus
Accompagnato was developed to answer the need to build a bridge between professional music teaching in the classroom and music students in the initial phase of the job. The course also offers individual coaching for this target group.
The aim of the course is to serve teachers as a tool for personal quality management and for cooperative peer mentoring.
The course work consists of two levels
· The participants expound the aspect of their profession most important to them with the support of the course leaders and the other participants. They develop self-observation tasks; they are advised in self-reflection and meta-cognition in order to invent new forms of intervention and behaviour in their teaching style.
· The plenary sessions are dedicated to generic topics of importance for all participants. Although these topics are relevant for teachers of all subjects, they are continuously linked to the participants’ experience of teaching music.
The course runs for one year. Generally, a three-hour meeting takes place once a month and twice a year a day-long meeting is held. Concomitantly to these plenary sessions, participants meet in small groups and for reciprocal school visits. The course is described in the following overview:
The Leading Team
The course should be led by at least two persons, ideally one man and one woman, one of whom should additionally have qualifications in coaching.
The concept assumes the following hypotheses
· Teacher training begins at university and extends from the first years of professional activity with the special opportunities for learning these provide, to further education for experienced teachers. For both the structure of the university course and further training for teachers is it essential that this entire range be taken into account.
· Each teacher is best qualified to fashion his or her own professional development. The course participants are at every conceivable stage of teacher training, have widely differing experience of teaching and are working in fields that cannot be compared to each other. They take their own approach and have their own priorities when it comes to professional development.
· External perspectives yield new ideas for teaching. Colleagues’ perspectives can provide valuable stimuli for the development of one’s own teaching style. How we behave and react in the classroom largely depends on what we see, feel and hear in a particular situation, what observations we keep for future reference and how we interpret them. The ability to understand processes such as these is the key criterion for always discovering new ways of behaving and avoiding unsatisfactory, recurring situations.
· Taking the learning requirements of the accompagnato course participants as the thematic starting point is both a strength and a particular challenge. The expectation that teachers’ own mental models are placed at others’ disposal in order to improve the quality of teaching must go hand in hand with activities that give confidence and a sense of security. The coaching methods used represent an innovation in the field of music teacher training and still require awareness-raising processes.
· Students' appreciation of teachers' experiential knowledge of the teachers by students can be seen as a means of directly stimulating the ability to embrace new experiences.
· Learning that colleagues’ sitting in on one’s own lessons is a form of support rather than inspection and assessment (unlike the usual school visits) can be essential for reassessing the role of school visits in one’s own professional development.
· An improved capacity for self-assessment of one’s own strengths as a teacher supports self-critical metacognition.
· The experience that work on a personally selected aspect of teaching leads in every case to improved teaching skills can be exploited by the teacher to begin a systematic process of improvement.
Strength of the concept and challenge
The coaching methods used represent an innovation in the field of music teacher training and still require awareness-raising processes. Activities designed to foster greater openness and self-criticism must be supported by methods and activities that enable teachers to gain self-confidence and respect for their own abilities.
The Accompagnato Model in Slovenia
The Slovenian adaptation of the model has been in place since 2002.
The model is intended for music teachers in general schools (primary, secondary) and music schools (pre-school music teachers, music theory teachers, teachers of instruments) at different stages of their professional development: students – future teachers, beginners, and experienced teachers. It promotes partnerships between the University, different schools and other institutional institutions.
IV. Reviews and References
· The concept became a subject of discussion at national and international conferences
· At present a book is being prepared for publication.
· From 2003 to 2006 Accompagnato was listed as an example of a “Best Practice” concept on the website of the German Music Council.
· It is additionally described and discussed as an example of “Best Practice” on the German Wiki for Music Education
· It has been selected as the subject of a thesis.
· See also www.accompagnato.at
Contact Persons: (AT), (DE), (SI)