Here is the Crescendo Music Education Podcast – Episode 68. I’m Debbie O’Shea and welcome to another episode of the Crescendo Music Education Podcast. In this episode, it’s part one of my talk with Dr. Jason Goopy.
I know Jason quite well through my work with Kodály Australia, however, I’m not as familiar with his work in the more academic sphere with his PhD and his work with research. So it’s so fascinating finding out more about that side of Jason’s career. I think you’re going to love listening to Dr. Jason Goopy – Part One.
About ‘Read the Episode’: Sometimes, we would rather skim visually than listen to a podcast! That’s a great way to learn too!
The transcript of episode 068 of The Crescendo Music Education Podcast is below.
Introducing Dr. Jason Goopy
We have for this episode of the Crescendo Music Education Podcast, Dr. Jason Goopy. Hello, Jason.
Hello, Debbie. Thanks for having me.
Oh as if I couldn’t have Jason Goopy. Oh, my goodness, you’ve helped us so much here in Australia, with music education. And I look up to you, you’re so organised and together and well, that’s the projection that you give anyway.
That’s very kind. Well my projections doing very well then.
All right. Now I’m going to start by reading your bio for the people who have not yet met you. So Dr. Jason Goopy is a recognised teacher, scholar and leader in music education. He is currently Lecturer and Coordinator of Secondary and Instrumental Music Education at Edith Cowan University and draws upon 15 years of leading arts programs and teaching music in Australian combined primary and secondary schools. And I might just add to your bio there that that’s in Perth, and we miss you in Brisbane.
Thank you. I like to think of myself as sort of having dual citizenship between Queensland and WA.
That’s a long way to have a foot in each camp, isn’t it? It’s a big spread. Okay. Now, where am I back to? Oh, he received the Australian Society for Music Education Callaway Doctoral Award and his subsequent monograph Teenage boys, musical identities and music education: An Australian narrative inquiry will be submitted to Routledge later this year for publication.
Jason is the recipient of an ECU Early-Mid Career research Grant and is currently examining the potential of trauma-informed community music education to support the well being of young people, using a highly qualitative arts based research methodology. It’s a mouthful, but I think I’m following, okay. He serves on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Music Education and the International Journal of Research in Choral Singing.
Jason is the current National President of the Australian Society for Music Education, immediate past President of Kodály Australia and an advisory group member for the Albert’s Tony Foundation national project Music Education Right From The Start. All I can say before I even get you to comment on that is, I have always been really grateful to know that you are working in these associations and moving in these fields. Look, I know, it’s not a hierarchy but I want to say above where we’re operating here on the ground. And you’re up there having influence on policy and direction and working at things at that level as well as coalface. Does that make sense?
Yeah, it does. I have two passions. You know, I have the on the ground, in the classroom, I love teaching. I love teaching my students in all contexts that I’ve worked, but I equally love as well, that strategic view, looking at systems and policies. And I’m a real advocate, that if we get systems and policies right, it means it empowers that teachers are on the ground able to do their job better. So I feel like sometimes they can seem as if they’re disconnected, but actually, when they can work in tandem together, that’s when we have the opportunity for students and teachers to flourish.
Absolutely. And I think we all have experienced in our own way, that the systems and processes that are enforced, that we live within, that we work within, they can actively work against us. If we sit and do nothing, we can literally lose our programs, because people out there making decisions have, basically though Oh we’ve got other priorities. So if we don’t have people at that level advocating for us, we’re lost really.
Yes, absolutely. It’s so important. And I guess the point is that you have to be involved, you have to get involved, because decisions are made by those who show up.
Yes. Now, what is that saying? I think I want to attribute it to Maree Hennessy. It’s better to be at the table than on the menu.
Yes, I’ve heard that before as well from Maree. Absolutely. I agree. We’ve just got to be involved.
Yes. So in fact, we should all take that, I mean, not that all of us can be doing these amazing things you’re doing. But even just being part of your professional association, or, you know, knowing what your system is doing, where you work, you might be able to be on a little, you know, a committee at your school, or at the next regional level or something, I think we all need to have our voices heard. But we’re really lucky, to go back to you, we’re really lucky to have you working at these other levels that you’ve worked hard to get there. And you’ve now got a voice that can be heard.
I think that’s what I’m trying to do as well, I don’t see it as a hierarchy, or as a, you know, a climbing the ladder position, so to speak, I really see it as an opportunity to serve. And in my particular upbringing, going to St Laurence’s College, a huge emphasis on service leadership. And that’s been really ingrained into me. I see it as an opportunity to represent the Australian music education community and serve them and myself as well, but helping us strengthen what we do, make it a bit more visible, give some voice to it, and really effect some positive change.
I think that is amazing. And I’ll just express my thanks again and everyone’s thanks. So thank you, keep doing what you’re doing, Jason. Let us know if you ever need any support from the ground, we’ll help you. Alright, so in that bio, is there anything else you would like to add to that summary of your work?
Well, when writing it and you know, you write bios for lots of different things all the time, but in this particular one that you read out, I’m really proud and I counted, the word music is mentioned 11 times. And that’s really significant for me, because there’s been numerous critical junctures in my life, where I’ve needed to make decisions that could have taken me away from music and I’ve been pulled in different directions.
But I’ve always come back to music, because it feels like home to me. And in my doctoral research one of the year 12 students said, as long as I’m doing music, I’ll be fine. And this has really resonated with me in my thinking about my pathway. So what I decided to do a little while ago, in everything that I do, music and music education must be at the center of my work.
Jason Goopy on his Music PhD Experience
I love that. I love that, you can see and feel that. So that’s wonderful. Now tell us about your PhD. It’s a lot of work and people that I know that have done PhDs have gone at various stages during the PhD, Why am I doing this PhD? So how long did it take you? And tell us a little bit from the inside?
Jason Goopy’s Work with Adolescent Male Voices
Yeah, really good question. I have to start by saying that it was the most rewarding and most challenging thing that I’ve ever done. It was really an extreme of highs and lows, a roller coaster ride, and I did it part time as well across seven years, while teaching full time in schools and involved in professional teacher associations. So it was certainly a hard slog. I don’t know if I would necessarily recommend doing it that particular way. But I would certainly recommend doing research studies because there’s so much value in that, we need more of it.
So my particular thesis investigated adolescent boys music values, uses and identity work in a single sex independent school. And I did my doctoral studies at the University of Queensland School of Music, under the supervision of Professor Margaret Barrett and Associate Professor Julie Ballantyne. Thesis or research work is all about generating new knowledge and the new knowledge that my thesis generates contributing to the nexus or the interface, the center between music education and music psychology using narrative inquiry, and adopting the role of teacher researcher at an Australian independent boys school.
I co constructed six rich and unique stories, revealing the intricate values, functions and roles of music, and how it plays in the processes of identity construction of year 12 classroom music students. And basically the short story is my study argued that music education can and should seek to positively shape and support student musical entities that expose the multiple musical identities present in one senior secondary music classroom, and presents a broad framework for teaching music based on this particular context.
You know, music education particularly in schools is often criticised for being irrelevant. And my study serves as an example of, if you can entangle all the various aspects of the ways that music operates in young people’s lives, it can be very successful. So the curriculum, the co curricular, home, and informal settings, all working together in this interconnected web of music making.
So what I’ve done, and it’s been a dream of mine, to turn this thesis and these stories of students that I was teaching, and I’m so grateful to the students and the parents for sharing these stories. It’s been a dream of mine to turn it into a book for quite a while now. And I went through a process of submitting a proposal to Routledge, which is an international academic publisher. I’ve signed a book contract and an amended manuscript will be submitted later this year. And the working title is Teenage Boys Musical Identities and Music Education: an Australian narrative inquiry. Keep an eye out for it at your favourite academic bookstore.
How exciting. So obviously, that’s taken from your PhD. So are you needing to rewrite it in order for it to be I guess that little bit, I don’t want to say more readable? That sounds rude, doesn’t it? But or is it just basically your PhD? Here it is?
Jason Goopy on His New Book
It’s a good question it actually will be a bit of a combination of all those things. So there will be parts that are very similar, but there will be other parts that will be rewritten. And that’s currently underway. Because a thesis has particular academic requirements that needs to be met. Whereas a book, obviously has a different audience. And so the writing is going to reflect the audience, just like we would advocate differently for particular audiences, the same in this academic writing space as well. Yeah, so it’s a a lot of work. But I’m really, really proud of this particular project.
Oh, that’s exciting. Well, I’ll tell you what, I will buy your book straightaway, I want to read those stories.
Thank you. They’re wonderful stories, they really are. And I’ve gone back and reread them, and reread them and reread them, because I’m just so personally invested in them as well. And I probably know these students, when they’re 17-18 years old, probably even better than the current, you know, the students, the young men now really, know themselves. But when I read them, I get senses of joy, laughter, camaraderie, fun, there’s times where I’m crying reading the stories, because what the students are revealing is so personal, that you can’t help be drawn into what they’re saying, and see the huge and significant meaning that music has in their lives.
So these boys and their families must have had and still have an incredible trust and relationship with you.
Absolutely. And like I said, I’m really thankful to these now young men and their families. Through the process of all of this, it really did solidify a relationship, which I think is quite powerful. And I still keep in contact with all these students, you know, they reach out on social media, and they send emails at times and I’m referees for jobs and all sorts of things that go on. I do that for other students as well, but probably even more prominently for these students.
And I think because as well, they were involved in the interview process and the research while they were a kid at school, it even actually added another element to their music education that was out of the norm. It just became so much deeper in what we were doing. And the students themselves became invested in the research, they became really interested and even in a different school students were still interested in the research, hadn’t even participated.
But they could actually relate to what they were seeing in the research outputs. In terms of the thesis, they would just love opening up the thesis and opening up research articles and reading it and saying, Yeah, that’s me. That’s also my story. And I even had students from a different school say, oh, I want to also buy your book because I’ve told them before, it’s a dream of mine to write this book. I didn’t believe it when I started this journey, but the power of stories, and their ability to resonate with people, and help us think about the world differently, or perhaps challenge what we’ve taken for granted, has really inspired me in my work.
I could not agree more about that power of narrative. I mean, it’s one of the main early childhood appropriate pedagogies, you know, age appropriate, but I would argue for everyone, we all need that story – I think that’s hardwired into us. That’s how lessons have been traditionally learnt. In tribal systems, that’s how stories were told, how children were taught is through story. It’s so powerful. So that whole narrative thing sounds really interesting. It sounds a lot more interesting than stats and stuff. But I guess you still had to do some stats, did you? Or not so much?
A New Way of Writing a Thesis
I didn’t actually for this particular project, there is no statistics at all. And that’s really interesting, because when I started this particular journey, I went and spoke to Professor Margaret Barrett at UQ. And I said I want to do a study, I was teaching daily music at the time from Prep to Year Three. I said as part of all of this, I need to advocate for this program, it’s a significant investment. And the questions are been asked all the time, do we really need this? No, give us some evidence to back up it’s as good as you say it is. And so that actually was one of the big drivers in me wanting to complete doctoral research, was to basically be able to support my claims and learn how to do that more rigorously.
And Margaret, is a leader, a world leader in narrative inquiry and music education, said yes you could do that, or have a look at this. I went away from her office with a basically a trolley full of narrative theses. And then my homework was to read the other theses. And I thought, You know what, this is ridiculous. Like stories, whatever.
Like, I just need some numbers to, you know, I need some data people. But the stories are the data. And I started reading these narratives of other researchers, teacher researchers, and I found myself on the lounge on school holidays, weeping, reading their theses, because the stories they were telling, and the impact that was captured in the stories was something that a number would never, ever be able to do.
Maybe more people will do their PhD if they know that this is a possible pathway.
I would love that for people, yeah, for me, I really don’t think of myself as somebody incredible. I honestly just think of myself as an ordinary person who grew up in a middle class family, went to a primary state school, if I can do it, anyone can do it, and I really do believe that. And maybe what is missing is just the strategies to get there. And I’m really passionate about that, because I do think anyone can do this, if the right strategies and guidance is in place. So yeah, I’d absolutely recommend it to everybody. If you doubt yourself reach out to somebody who has done this kind of work. And we can actually help you map out some strategies and how it can become achievable.
That is great advice. And I will confess that I didn’t even realise it was a possible strategy as part of your PhD. To me when I thought of PhD it’s all about reading lots of things and putting together lots of numbers so I think that’s very encouraging for everyone.
We absolutely should, and we need more of it. Because we need more evidence based advocacy. Now more than ever, music education is in danger. So you know, at times, I’ve even referred to us as endangered species as music teachers. But research is really interesting, and particularly postgraduate research studies, because you can craft projects to be whatever you like them to be. It can be based on you teaching, it can be based on others teaching can be based on numbers and words or a combination of both.
There’s so many ways to construct research projects. But all you need to get started is a curiosity, a question and you’re not doing research to prove something, but you’re doing research to find an answer that needs to be known. And if you have a question, or you’re seeing something in your classroom and you think to yourself, why is this happening? Or how is this happening? That’s a research study, go and do a Masters by Research or a PhD.
I love that, this is a great call to action. We should jump on this. Thank you. I love it. Now can we go back to your research grant, congratulations on that one. Tell us more about that. Are you doing more research, or is this the same?
Dr. Jason Goopy’s Research Grant
So what happens in academic roles is that you have three components you have teaching, and in my role, I teach into initial teacher education and music teachers and undergraduate and master’s programs. The next part of your role is research and your own personal research agenda and supervising postgraduate research students, high degree research students. And then the third component of your role is service and community engagement.
So as part of my research component, I need to keep researching, and I want to keep researching. I’m really quite passionate about continuing to understand music education, and its place in the world and how it can contribute positively to transform lives. So this particular grant that I got was competitive application. And I’m really, really proud of this particular study as well. It builds upon my PhD studies, and so my PhD was looking at a combination of music, education and psychology. And that’s the trajectory that my research is following.
So this project aims to investigate how a trauma informed approach to music education might support the mental health and well being of children and young people in community settings. So internationally Community Music Education Programs have been positioned as an opportunity for intervention, and employed in various mental health initiatives. However, this research is only emerging in Australia. So through three nationally recognised Australian case studies involving rich qualitative and arts based data, this research will generate important insights as to how trauma informed community education programs can support the psychological needs of children and young people in a non medical and a community based way.
And the reason that I’m starting out in communities is because there’s lots of great work going on in community settings in this space that the school systems could benefit from, obviously with the the exacerbation of the Coronavirus, and everything else that’s gone on mental health has come under a spotlight. And so this is a way to also learn more about what’s happening in our lives and use music as a resource to positively transform them.
Wow, and there is a lot going on. That’s pretty wonderful. So this is great. So you’re going to, like look into that, do some research into what is happening, and how it benefits those kids the way it is now? Are you also going to be looking at what we could do to further those programs, to expand those programs? Or you’re just really looking at what is happening now in our society, and how it benefits the kids.
Yeah, a bit of everything, actually. And this particular study is, I guess, the beginning of what will become probably a significant body of work over many, many years. It’s looking at, particularly the music education aspects of these programs, particularly their pedagogies, and how we can learn from those and bring that into schools.
But also, what are the recommendations for these programs to continue to grow and improve? And the hope as well, I mean, these programs are generally funded through philanthropic donations, or essentially government funding, or the generosity of volunteers. They’re not very well funded at all. And so the hope as well as that is for this research to be used in advocacy of these programs to help generate funding and other things. I guess the other thing as well is that it sounds like this particular work is quite niche.
But what is really happening is that this work in trauma informed community music education settings, is probably an extreme example of what we see in schools. And by looking at the extreme example, we then can transfer all this work back into schools. So it’s incredibly important and highly transferable to the work that we do as school music teachers.
The Importance of Music on Trauma-Informed Teaching
Yes. And that’s what’s going through my head because I can’t get the school music teacher part out of my head. Because what is happening in these groups, it’s like an expansion of what happens in my classroom every day, every half hour, when the new bunch of kids comes in, and you’ve got so many little backgrounds and some really sad stories, even in the best schools.
There are kids in there that have come from the saddest circumstances and we’re providing a lifeline for them in our music lesson. We’re the one hands that are holding their hands in a circle, we’re the ones that are using their name in a song, in a really gentle encouraging way, we’re making eye contact with them one on one, when we’re playing a little hand game, we’re giving them those therapeutic moments and the belonging, and we’re doing all that in the music classroom. The music classroom is a magic place to be.
And I think that is what these community groups are also trying to do. And part of me wants to say, You people who are doing that come and have a look at what happens in our classroom. Is it wrong to think that some groups could also learn from what we do in our rooms, as well as us learning from them?
I don’t think it’s wrong at all. I think you’ve nailed it on the head. Because the reality is the practices you’ve just described, are also trauma informed approaches to music education. And this is the thing that even though there are these, I guess, identifying programs, as trauma informed approaches, there’s lots of work that’s going on that is trauma aware, but not labeled as such, the reality is, trauma informed practice is just best practice. And that’s what we’re really looking at, we’re looking at best practice in music education, but particularly for vulnerable young people. What is best practice for these people? And it’s all about inclusion, isn’t it, and that’s what this work is, is doing.
Together Sing and the Importance of Music Initiatives
And that comes back to I know your love, and my love, is just that excellent pedagogy. And of course just being a decent human being and considering those people, that’s amazing. What comes to mind is Together Sing because just before I got on this call to you, I was working on the video, something like Together Sing, which of course I’m personally very invested in is the sort of event that might really help these community groups and schools to expand that knowledge. So we would certainly love to. We’re hanging onto your work so that we can help hook into that through Together Sing as well.
And I think that’s an example of another great initiative, there’s so many out there, that is in support of young people and children and their mental health and well being. And we know as teachers that it happens, it works, because we see it every day. But interestingly, the research is still catching up. We haven’t yet got the documentation to really use as evidence based advocacy in this space. It’s an emerging space, it’s on the horizon. It’s about to flourish in research, but we’re just not quite there yet. But that’s why we need to do it.
I do love the sound of that. And it sounds to me like that will fill in a little bit of a gap that I feel is there, like I’m loving the new, I’m going to say new, it’s probably been there for ages. But it seems to me the increased neuroscientific evidence. I think that’s really powerful for us, isn’t it? And it’s proving that music education actually does help cognitive development and all of those sorts of things. But what you’re talking about, it’s almost like a missing link to that proof, adding almost the human side. I know that’s not the right words, but you know what I mean?
Yeah, no, absolutely. And there’s been evidence of extra musical benefits. I think I’ve found stuff, at least in Kodály inspired teaching from the 60s. And interestingly, when the Hungarian primary music school started in Hungary, and they started doing daily singing in schools, the way that they advocated for the expansion of those programs was not because of the musical benefits but it was because of all of the scientific studies that they were doing about academic achievement, and health and other things going on for these children.
So it’s really interesting the cycles that we go around in terms of our advocacy approaches, but I think what we are still learning to do in scientific study is how to measure all of that. We don’t yet quite have it. What we do know, it’s undeniable, that music can make a positive and significant transformational difference to the lives of all ages, all people of all ages. We do have some idea how to measure it, but we’re still figuring it out. And I think in terms of neuroscience and psychology, there’s great potential here. I think probably over the next 10 years, we’re going to see huge advancements.
That’s good. I love that optimism. That let’s do that. Yes, it’ll come, it’ll come.
Thank you for joining me for this podcast. Don’t forget that you’ll find the show notes on crescendo.com.au/68. Also, you can find the transcripts there. So you’ve got all of the detail that you need. If you found this podcast useful, I’d really love it if you share the link with a colleague. Remember all I can be is the best version of me. All you can do is be the best you. We’ll meet meet again, I hope we will. Bye.
This podcast is brought to you by Crescendo Music Education connecting supporting and inspiring music educators. In the show notes you’ll find links to Crescendo’s social media platforms. Please connect with me and be part of the Crescendo community. You might consider becoming a Crescendo member, for a low annual fee you can access hundreds of files worksheets, printables workbooks, repeat workshops and webinars and receive great discounts on events. So come and connect with me Debbie O’Shea. See you in the socials.
Just for Laughs
As we know laughter relieve stress. Don’t lose sight of the funny side of life.
Did you hear about the kidnapping at school?
Oh, it’s okay. He woke up.
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