Literacy is about so much more than just reading and writing. It is about approaching knowledge of all sorts critically, being able to engage with the thoughts of others, and creating meaning through all types of media.  When viewed this way, literacy applies to all disciplines, including music.  Approaching music study through literacy provides a rich way of knowing, understanding, and experiencing music in ways that are different from traditional music education.  Literacy does not replace traditional approaches to music study; rather, literacy enhances music learning and creates new ways of knowing.

Music as text

Current literacy practices view "text" as much more than just books, articles, and other traditional print formats.  Text has come to mean any sort of mediated knowledge, which can include audio and video recording, public discourse, visual displays, and also music in performance and analysis. Since the focus of literacy is not on the text itself but rather what is done with the text, any sort of mediated knowledge can be the foundation for literacy.

Approaching a text

Literacy strategies focus on how students engage with a text actively before, during, and after reading.  This act of reading can be the actual act of reading a traditional text, but it can also be any active engagement with a text.  For music, reading can mean playing of a piece of music, listening to a recording, viewing a performance, or analyzing a manuscript. 

 

The strategies that follow are identified into categories of before, during, and after and serve to help students engage with texts, connect with the thoughts of others, and create new meaning through dialogue with authors, composers, performers, and thinkers at large.

Literacy Strategy

Click on title of strategy for more details and applications to music education

During
After

When to use in relation

to reading activities

Before
During
During
During
During
Before
Before
After

Comprehension, Analysis

Observations and questions are made while reading either in margins or on sticky notes to record thoughts while in the act of reading for later consideration.

Comprehension, Analysis

By focusing on just the text, details are scrutinized to lead students more deeply into the text, focusing on small segments and multiple readings over time.

Comprehension, Analysis

Similarities and differences both within and between texts are identified to provide deeper understanding of concepts within the reading.

Comprehension, Analysis, Prediction

This guided reading strategy asks questions for prediction of what will happen and confirmation or refutation of those predictions, providing deeper insight and reflection on the text.

Concept Development, Comprehension, Analysis

This model provides a method for investigating meaning of concepts in depth through definitions, examples, and non-examples.

Analysis, Prediction, Reflection

Inferencing connects reading to prior experience allowing students to see their reading activities as connected to their own lives and allowing for meaningful conclusions and predicitons to be made.

Research, Critical thinking, Cooperative learning

Students become experts on a specific area of the concepts being studied and then collaborate with other students to develop a complete picture of the concept.

Activating prior knowledge, Anticipation, Reflection

K-W-L stands for What do you know?-What do you want to know?-What did you learn? and serves to spark student interest and self-evaluation of learning.

Prior knowledge, Anticipation of reading

Anticipation guides serve to both activate students' prior knowledge about a text and anticipate key ideas that students will encounter while reading.

After

Reflection, Meaning making

QAR provides an approach to scaffolded questioning by having students consider whether information is implicit or explicit in the text and whether the student's perspective is necessary to answer it.

Comprehension, Reflection

Students pose questions to the author of the text and then search the text for evidence of the author's intent so to build depth in understanding and engagement.

During
After

Reflection

Using support from the text and their own personal experience, students make decisions or draw conclusions about concepts from within the text.

After

Summarizing, Predicting, Clarifying

After the teacher models teaching practices, students lead one another in guided reading, directing dialogue about the text and its concepts.

Analyzing, Sythesizing

Originally devised as a writing strategy by providing a structure upon which to write, RAFT can also be used as an analysis tool for considering written texts and their function and purpose.

Anticipation, Critical thinking

This pre-reading strategy activates student interest before reading by having students search a text for items of interest.

Main theme/supporting details, Creating argument

This graphic organizer provides support for making meaningful arguments by identifying main ideas and themes and details that support those themes.

Reflection, Meaning making

Students differentiate between important and less important elements of a text, allowing them to recognize the most important parts and deepening their understanding.

Analysis, Critical thinking

The teacher (or other students) model the thought processes they have while actively reading so that students can understand different modes of thought.

Critical thinking, Synthesis of ideas, Cooperative learning

In this strategy, students first consider critical questions on their own and then discuss and defend their ideas with other students.