University of Wisconsin-Superior
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In 2001, when music professor Dr. Lois Guderian decided to pursue a midlife doctorate degree in Music Education, little did she realize that the topic she wanted to research would become one of the most important issues in general music education reform: the inclusion of music improvisation and composition in the general music curriculum in the schools.
After incorporating composition into general music teaching at the middle school level and seeing the effects of such work on students' development of musical understanding and their attitudes regarding music studies, Guderian accepted a doctoral fellowship at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
New ideas in teaching
At Northwestern she she pursued research and teaching in this area of music education. Her work included the application of her ideas in teaching undergraduates at Northwestern -- a course that became popular with the students.
In her dissertation, Guderian examined several areas of research important to a comprehensive understanding of her topic: the effects of creative assignments in improvisation and composition on students' development of musical understanding and skills when the assignments are embedded into the curriculum. In other words, related to, an outgrowth of, and reinforcing of, the curriculum.
Research areas included:
Since the publication of her dissertation in 2008, Guderian has seen the publication of textbooks for music education, a number of solicited articles and papers, chapter contributions, and has given national, state and area presentations on various aspects of her research.
New journal articles
Guderian's latest publication is "Improvisation and Composition in the General Music Curriculum," an article published March 1 in General Music Today, a journal published by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and one of the leading national publications in the field. Her article appears in the journal's special issue on creativity.
In addition, Guderian will be featured in April in Teaching Music, another journal published by the NAfME. She is among the experts interviewed on the topic of music teacher burnout in the United States.
Creative drama study
Guderian's second area of study, creative drama, in combination with her work in music education, also has resulted in several presentations for the American Alliance for Theatre in Education national conferences. A frequent presenter at the Wisconsin State Music Conference, Guderian will give presentations in both music education and children's musical theatre at the 2012 state music conference in October.
Based on her work as a music teacher, researcher, composer and performer, Guderian believes that all human beings are born with musical and creative aptitude that can be nurtured and developed through formal education and informal life experiences.
Creative thinking into curriculum
She is committed to finding and developing ways to include opportunities for creative thinking and application in all areas of the school curriculum and to helping future educators learn ways to develop their own creative teaching and the creative thinking of their future students.
"Working together to learn ways of expressing life, living and the human experience through the various artistic symbol systems that have evolved throughout the history of humankind, can provide some of life's most fulfilling moments for all of us," she said. "Helping others to attain skills, understanding, and creative thinking that contribute to meaningful living is life at its richest."
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