Interpretations of student engagement in the context of the Orff Schulwerk music classroom at the Dubard School for Language Disorders

Anna Rebecca Bondurant Halliday

Abstract

The purpose of this multiple case study was to explore the lived experiences of four students with language disorders within the context of their Orff Schulwerk music class at the DuBard School for Language Disorders. In addition, the observational insights of their classroom teachers and the practitioner researcher were compared with the responses of the students in order to determine any discrepancies between the child's awareness of his or her musical engagement and that of the observer. Using data collected from interviews, stimulated recall (Dempsey, 2010), and student generated artwork (Freeman & Mathison, 2009), I explored the lived experiences of the students as they were conveyed through their words and images. The participants' classroom teachers participated in similar stimulated recall sessions using the same excerpts of video recorded music classes. A comparison of responses illustrated whether students, teachers, and I had the same or similar perceptions of the same event. Emergent themes were found in the areas of musical, social, societal, and physical engagement in the music classroom, and were related to the three research questions: (1) How do music students with language disorders interpret their own actions in the music classroom; (2) What, if any, discrepancies exist between teacher and student interpretations of student engagement in the music classroom; and (3) What choices regarding engagement do music students with language disorders make in the context of the Orff Schulwerk music classroom? Emergent themes were explored in relation to participants' musical vocabulary, societal involvement, self-awareness, transfer of knowledge, music vs. classroom, discrepancies in student and teacher perception, kinesthetic engagement, instrumental engagement. After considering these themes in regard to the research questions, I asserted that the depth of meaning within their musical experience was largely superficial. This study hoped to inform those who interact with children with language disorders as to their perceptions, their lived experiences, and their ability or inability to communicate their thought processes in regards to educational, specifically musical, school settings.