Collaborators Needed!

Learning Theories for Music Teaching: A Practical Guide (tentative title) will be the first handbook designed to assist pre- and in-service music educators in applying research-supported theories of learning to the music classroom and rehearsal hall. The primary objective of the book is to equip music educators with a toolkit of mindsets, approaches, and specific teaching techniques that can be employed singly or simultaneously, as individual student needs and teaching contexts dictate.  It will address a fundamental question: How can music educators incorporate the most effective and appropriate cognitive, social, motivation-based, and/or critical/postmodern theories of learning into their daily teaching? To date, few texts have been published in the field that address this question with the needs of the working teacher in mind. The insights presented in Learning Theories for Music Teaching will appeal to music teachers of all specializations and grade levels. Content will be adaptive, not prescriptive: The hope is for music teachers reading the book to think critically about their own practice and develop their own insights, theories, and applications for the betterment of student learning.

Please read through the following, and when ready, submit your chapter proposal here! The proposal deadline is January 1, 2024.

Need for the Project

What separates an excellent musician from an excellent music educator? I have spent countless hours thinking about this, arriving at a simple answer: music educators should be experts in music learning. Unfortunately, many music teacher preparation programs are steeped in the conservatory tradition, meaning they may actually overemphasize musical content while deemphasizing both the learning of teaching and the teaching of learning. One cannot assume that students displaying high levels of musical knowledge and performance skill will magically become excellent teachers. Learning Theories for Music Teaching will fill a need in that it will present a concise overview of how the science of learning interfaces with the art of music. I can envision it serving as a text in undergraduate and graduate music education courses as well as a resource for practicing music teachers who seek a deeper understanding of how humans learn, both generally and in music contexts specifically. 

A review of three existing texts that could be considered similar to this proposed book may help further articulate the need for this project. Eric Bluestine’s The Ways Children Learn Music (2000, GIA Publications) is written in the same direct, jargon-free style that is desired for the current project, but it focuses on only one theory of learning music (that of eminent music education researcher Edwin E. Gordon). In Learning Theories Simplified (2015, SAGE Publications), Bob Bates has amassed a trove of information on nearly every significant learning theory developed from the time of Socrates onward. However, the sheer amount of information presented is overwhelming, and, as the book is not arts- or music-oriented, it offers little in the way of guidance that speaks specifically to music teaching and learning. Alan Pritchard comes closer to the desired style and substance of the current project in his book Learning Theories and Learning Styles in the Classroom (2014, Routledge Publications), but he does not address social constructivism or student motivation significantly, and, as above, his book is not specifically tailored to the needs of the music teacher. Learning Theories for Music Teaching would address the need for a concise, thought-provoking view of learning theories and how they can be made real in music classrooms and rehearsal halls.

Learning Theories

Contributing authors will select one (or more) of the following theories to feature in their chapter or suggest a theory not listed here (this is only a partial list):


  • Metacognitive Theory (Flavell)
  • Taxonomies (Bloom)
  • Multiple Intelligences (Gardner)
  • Theory of Cognitive Growth (Bruner)
  • Meaningful Learning Theory (Ausubel)
  • Conditions of Learning/Nine Instructional Events (Gagné)
  • Theory of Cognitive Development (Piaget)
  • Learning Styles (Honey & Mumford/others)
  • Mastery Learning/Competency-Based Learning (Bloom/others)
  • Insight Theory (Kohler)
  • Transfer (various)


  • Social Activity Theory (Vygotsky)
  • Social Learning Theory/Modeling (Bandura)
  • Self-Efficacy (Bandura)
  • Experiential Learning Theory (Kolb)
  • Discovery Learning Theory (Bruner)
  • Socially-Situated Learning/Communities of Practice (Lave & Wenger)
  • Project-Based Learning (various)
  • Ecological Systems Theory (Bronfenbrenner)


  • Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan)
  • Mindsets (Dweck)
  • ARCS Model (Keller)
  • Expectancy-Value Theory (Vroom/Atkinson/Eccles)
  • MUSIC Model (Jones)
  • Eight Forces of Motivation (Lavoie)
  • Self-Worth (Atkinson/others)
  • Attribution Theory (Weiner)
  • Montessori


  • early Progressivism (e.g., John Dewey)
  • Critical Consciousness/Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Freire)
  • Emotional Intelligence (Goleman)
  • Learning Power (Claxton)
  • Place-Based Education (Zucker/Elder/Sobel)
  • Differentiation (Tomlinson)
  • Andragogy (Knowles)
  • Reflection and Learning (Schön)

**Note: The above list is a sampling. Feel free to suggest other theories to profile! Research-based learning theories specific to music are welcome, too.

Information for Contributors

  1. Chapters will be approximately 10-13 pages double spaced (2,500-3,500 words) not including references or other back matter. To propose a chapter, all that is required is a simple 100-200 word abstract. (Deadline is January 1, 2024; the submission link appears below.)
  2. Unfortunately, this is not a paid gig.
  3. Contributors should plan to discuss how their theory informs music teaching at a variety of levels and specializations, from young learners to adolescents (and maybe older learners as well). All chapters must include guidance for (a) classroom music teaching, (b) ensemble directing, (c) applied lessons instruction (one-on-one), and (d) any other relevant music teaching contexts identified by the contributor. The goal is to make the book relevant to as wide an audience of music educators as possible.
  4. Chapters will likely include the following elements (full details/guidelines will be provided after January 1):
    • abstract;
    • a music teaching vignette to contextualize the theory within a real-world music education scenario (this could appear at the beginning or later in the chapter);
    • a brief overview of the theory with historical context about its origins, development, the researcher who created or helped popularize it, etc.;
    • a concise, easy-to-understand explanation of the elements of the theory, terminology associated with it, and its basic premise– essentially, “how it works”;
    • alongside the above explanation of the theory, a brief review of relevant literature (generally and/or within music education), including citations;
    • connections to other theories or methodologies (if applicable) and a critique articulating any downsides or shortcomings of the theory;
    • a section detailing how teachers, ensemble directors, studio instructors, etc. can each put the theory into practice within their teaching contexts (perhaps with more vignettes, or a revisiting of the earlier vignette). This part should be super practical– specific teaching ideas that readers can try with students at their next class meeting or rehearsal;
    • further reading or suggested resources for more information on the theory;
    • a brief summary paragraph.
  5. Selected authors may be asked to peer review other contributors’ chapters.
  6. Anticipated timeline
    • January 1, 2024: Deadline for potential contributors to submit proposals.
    • February 1, 2024: Notification of acceptance sent to contributors. All submissions will receive feedback from the editor. At this point, specific parameters, formatting guidelines, and a sample chapter will also be shared with accepted contributors.
    • June 1, 2024: Deadline for contributors to submit full chapters to the editor.
    • Summer 2024: All contributors engage in peer review of each other’s chapters.
    • September 1, 2024: Contributors receive feedback from the editor and/or peer reviewers, including any requests for revisions.
    • Fall 2024: Contributors revise their chapters. (A second round of editorial review and subsequent revisions may be necessary.)
    • December 1, 2024: Contributors submit final drafts of chapters to the editor. This version of the chapter should essentially be ready to publish.
    • Sometime in 2025: Publication!

Use this Google Form to submit your chapter proposal by January 1, 2024. If you have questions, please send an email to