In February 2013 we held the 11th EAS Student Forum (SF) at the Lemmensinstitute, B. The focus of the forum was “Reflective Practice in Music Education”. The SF provided an opportunity for 24 students from 12 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland).
The SF opened on Monday afternoon, 11th of February, with a short welcome concert given by the students from Lemmensinstitute. This was followed by an outline of the SF concept and working plan, short introductory presentations by participants, and a number of familiarisation games to settle the atmosphere and unite the group. Using a combination of working in different subgroups and plenary meetings, Day 2 was dedicated to sharing musical activities and materials. Posters prepared by the students focused on their teaching training programmes and teaching practice. Some students brought video examples from their music lessons or examples of lessons from their countries.The third day focused on improvisation and creativity in music. It included a workshop led by Professor Tom Mahieu (Lemmensinstitute), Marina Gall’s session on the main theme Reflective Practice in Music Education and group work on preparing for a performance to delegates at the opening ceremony of the EAS congress. The final day started with the morning rehearsal and presentation at the EAS conference. This was well received by the audience and students felt that they got approval for their work. The SF closed with an opportunity for participants to reflect on the activities and outcomes of the SF and the impact of the whole process on them.
“sometimes we need others to see ourselves clearly”
Written by Sjoerd Gietema
When the invitation for the student forum 2013 came to me through the conservatory where I am studying to be a music teacher, I did not hesitate to enroll. I had already experienced the value of an international student exchange but I have never had the opportunity to be part of a project which involved so many different countries and cultures at the same time. Therefore I could not let this opportunity pass by. I was elected by my principal and sent to Leuven. There I met up with a lot of other students from every part of Europe: from Latvia to Croatia. In advance we were told to prepare a presentation of the reflective practice in our studies. And so we did, our presentations debouching into interesting discussions and refreshing ideas. We compared our visions on the importance of reflection. For me being a student from the Netherlands, I was surprised by the different opinions about reflection. Since I am “raised” reflecting on what I do and since reflection is a great part of our study, reflecting is an action I deliberately put to practice nearly every day. There are books written about reflection which we are obliged to buy, there are classes about reflection which we are obliged to attend: for me this is a common being a Dutch student. But the Netherlands is only a small part of Europe… This I experienced while checking all the other visions on reflection. Some countries have no use in total integration of reflection and this does not make them less of a teacher. How can that be? Can I take an example from my foreign fellow-Europeans? Or is it better to stick with my own vision on reflection? Of course we wanted to find an answer, perhaps we could even find a way to verbalize an ideal way of reflecting on education. Anyhow, we had to show the outcomes from our discussions in a final presentation for the EAS-forum attendants. The presentation went very well; a lot of senior attendants expressed their gratification about what we showed them. But was there an answer found? Is it possible to define a standard on the reflective practice in music education? Perhaps the difference in cultures within Europe is too big to standardize, but do we even need to? When I take a look at my own practice, is there room for improvement on reflection? How? Can I teach others more about reflection after attending this forum? All these questions will have a different outcome depending on the person questioning them. There are millions of other questions to be formulated and differently answered, depending on the person. But the awareness of having these questions and trying to answer them might be the best outcome of the forum, because that might well be exactly what reflection does. Reflection is a valuable skill in the practice of being a teacher, but in my eyes nobody is using the most of it. That’s where Marina’s quote comes in and underlines the importance and value of this forum:
“Sometimes you need others to see yourselves clearly”