Abstract

This narrative portrait of Michelle, a Bahamian elementary music teacher working in the southeastern United States, illustrates how Emdin's (2016) Pentecostal pedagogy might apply to music education. An element of Emdin's broader reality pedagogy, Pentecostal pedagogy emphasizes ways in which a teacher engages students in educational content by connecting with them emotionally, balancing structure and improvisation, utilizing knowledge about students’ backgrounds and interests to present material in meaningful ways, and fostering a sense of community. We chose narrative portraiture (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997) as a means to illustrate the vibrancy, flexibility, and holistic embodiment evident in Michelle's classroom. The research process was generative and iterative, with attention to elements of portraiture including context, voice, relationship, emergent themes, and the aesthetic whole. The portrait illustrates ways that Michelle exemplified tenets of Pentecostal pedagogy, including offering expressions of love juxtaposed with fierce musical expectations; using a variety of voice inflections and facial expressions to maintain student attention; emphasizing context; creating community; sequencing material to facilitate student openness to unfamiliar concepts; using call and response to assess and energize students; balancing structure and improvisation; and teaching for musical, intellectual, physical, and emotional transformation. This portrait depicts nuanced differences between merely teaching students “their” music within a traditional, Eurocentric pedagogy versus teaching a broad variety of genres with an engaging approach. Findings pave the way for broader discussions about how teachers from a variety of backgrounds might work with a variety of students.

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