South Orangetown Central School District Music Teacher Dr. Matthew Rotjan delivered two presentations at the National Association for Music Education’s Music Research and Teacher Education National Conference in Atlanta, March 22-24.
“My research revolved around diversity and inclusion at a number of levels. For one study, I looked at literature that is recommended for performance at festivals and analyzed the degree to which music on this list was diverse,” explains Dr. Rotjan, who teaches strings to students in grades 3-8. “My collaborators and I looked at composer gender, race, ethnicity, culture, musical style, and whether a composer were alive or dead. For another, I included the voices of teachers and students from around the Mid Atlantic and Northeast, from urban and suburban schools, about diversity of music and the inherent difficulties negotiating teacher-student goals, authenticity, diversity, and musical style.”
The central focus of the NAfME conference was on diversity and inclusion in music education research and teacher education. The majority of attendees were professors and researchers from the US. Dr. Rotjan lent his voice as a teacher-researcher to conversations with colleagues, reflecting on his own experiences in teacher education from the perspective of both a cooperating teacher and student teacher supervisor for Teachers College.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to represent SOCSD and to share my work with other researchers. From my lens as a musician-teacher-researcher, I was able to engage in dialogue with those doing interesting scholarship in our field,” says Dr. Rotjan. “At this same time, I contributed to furthering our field and enhance the educational learning experiences of our students. I believe it is our job as educators to both contribute to discourse in the research field and also to intelligently adapt it to our practices in the classroom. Connections of research to practice, and practice to research, help strengthen our work and benefit our students.”