Educational Philosophy Part 3b

On track to develop mastery of one self, what is your approach to education and learning?

Layer 8: My approach in preparing for a learning practice session

Continuing on from my previous blogs in this series: as I have indicated in my first blog, I have laid this section out in the following nine (9) parts.

Layer 8a: My approach in preparing for a learning practice session Pt 1

In preparing for an education & learning practice session, I develop a plan. In doing so, I commence five (5) tasks.
My first task in developing an education & learning practice session plan is to develop a succinct phrase of the title of the session:
  • The title of the session: What is the discipline topic of this education and learning practice session?
My second task in developing an education & learning practice session plan is to develop a succinct sentence stating the rationale of the session:
  • The rationale of the session:  What is the purpose of this education & learning practice session? What do I hope to achieve by the end of the education & learning session?
     TIP: Use future tense active words – such as will increase, will gain, will encounter – in developing the rationale of the session. These are to guide your development of practice during the preparation development stage of the session plan.
Examples of Rationale statements: 
1. This education & learning practice session will increase understanding  …..
2. Learners will gain a perspective on……….
3. Learners will encounter these concepts………..
          My third task in developing an education & learning practice session plan is to develop the aims of the session:
  • The aims of the session need to be holistic: What is the end goal of your education & learning practice session? What do you plan to do and achieve with the learners by the end of the education & learning practice session? It is very important when developing your aims to remain focussed on the primary aim of the education & learning practice session: to ensure the learners realise the agreed learning outcomes of this session. In order to assist in this process, it is suggested to use a goal-orientated guide such as SMART in developing your session plan: be specific; include measurable statements; ensure the final aim/goal is achievable; and relevant to the learner and the agreed session learning outcomes; and bound in time (Esposito 2015).
    TIP: Use active verbs words –such as practice, trial, discuss, search , research, gather, analyse, articulate, propose, develop, design, record, mix, produce or present – in developing your objectives to guide the learners during the education & learning practice session. The primary objective  of the education & learning practice session is to ensure the learners are engaged in learning as per the agreed learning outcomes of this session.
Examples of Aim statements: 
1. To offer experiential insights into ………
2. To expose the learners to the ……….
3. To have the learners engage in a………..
My fourth task in developing an education & learning practice session plan is to develop the objectives of the session:
  •  The objectives of the session need to be more specific than the aims, but still succinct sentences of intent: What are your smaller steps that will help you achieve the main aim of the session? These smaller steps should lead the learners to realise the agreed learning outcomes of this education & learning practice session. Each objective may have a number of learning outcomes. In order to assist in this process, it is suggested to use a goal-orientated guide such as SMART in developing your session plan (Esposito 2015).
TIP: Use active verbs words –such as practice, trial, discuss, search , research, gather, analyse, articulate, propose, develop, design, record, mix, produce or present – in developing your objectives to guide the learners during the education & learning practice session. The primary objective  of the education & learning practice session is to ensure the learners are engaged in learning as per the agreed learning outcomes of this session.
Examples of Objective statements: 
1. The learners identify ……….
2. The learners analyse  …………
3. The learners develop………..
4. The learners produce………..
5. The learners present ……..
My fifth task in developing an education & learning practice session plan is to develop the learning outcomes of the session:
  •  The learning outcomes of the session need to be more specific than the aims and objectives, but still succinct sentences of outcome: What are the learning outcomes for each specified objective of the session? These statements state the agreed learning outcomes of this education & learning practice session for both the learning facilitator and the learners. Each objective may have a number of learning outcomes. The learning outcomes must differentiate from each other in terms of an outcome, but may also overlap. In order to assist in this process, it is suggested to use a goal-orientated guide such as SMART in developing your session plan (Esposito 2015).
TIP: Use active verbs words – such as apply, identify, evaluate, formulate, implement, construct, critically analyse, articulate, communicate, develop, work with, create, maintain, plan, employ, demonstrate, develop, design, record, mix, research, propose and publish – in developing your learning outcomes to inform the learners’ from commencement of the education & learning practice session. The primary objective of the education & learning practice session is to ensure the learners are engaged in learning as per these agreed learning outcomes of this session.
Examples of Learning Outcome statements: 
1. The learners apply knowledge of ………
2. The learners evaluate the impact of ……..
3. The learners formulate and implement …….
4. The learners evaluate and maintain………
5. The learners plan…….
6. The learners employ (specific) concepts ……..
7. The learners demonstrate………..
8. The learners employ (specific) skills ………

Layer 8b: My approach in preparing for a learning practice session Pt 2

My primary goal for the learning practice session is to align the learning objectives, the learning activities, and the learning assessment tasks (Light et al 2009, 82). The goal in developing a learning practice plan is to focus, with the goal of optimising the effective student learning experience of the particular learners during a learning practice session. For me to develop learning practice plans for a specific environment and learning group, I must understand the parameters of both of these variables as a starting point.
  •         What will the learning environment be?
  •         And perhaps most importantly, who are my learners?
Learning Space
How I conduct myself in the learning environment will in many ways be dictated by the actual space. Questions regarding the learning space to be considered prior to developing a learning practice plan include:
  • Is the learning space part of an organisation with other inhabitants?
  • Is there natural light?
  • Is it ventilated suitably, or air-conditioned or heated in certain climates?
  • Is it free from disturbance from other activities in the shared building?
  • How large or small is the space?
  • Is it an open space?
  • Is it a space with other resources such as tables, chairs, computers within it?
  • Is there a degree of portability or movability with those resourses, or are they fixed?
  • Is the space naturally conducive to active learning, or passive lecturing?
  • Is there an appropriate space for the learning facilitator to manage the learning experience?
Knowing the space allows me to consider what learning activities may be appropriate. Or may prompt me to source alternative learning space options. For example, I may be able to use alternative space within the same building, outside, or even at the local studio or park. Once I have confirmed the learning space options available to me, I am then free to consider the learners.

Layer 8c: My approach in preparing for a learning practice session Pt 3

The Learners/Learner pre-assessment/pre-delivery session
The word assessment is an interesting term in education and learning. Mention of the word quite often leads people to recall past experiences of being formally assessed in schools, quite often tarred with negative memories or emotions. In extreme cases I have observed people experience a complete shut down of their senses due to the extremity of their previous formal assessment experiences.
The other use of the term in education and learning is that of informal assessment of a learner: an assessment of the learner from your professional practice perspective – a needs analysis as such of who the learner is. An informal assessment of what the learner needs to ensure they are developing their content, information knowledge base and skills level, in order to maximise their development, their personal empowerment, in order for them to ultimately realise their full life potential.
Step 1: In the development of initial drafts of a generic learning practice plan, I specify the learning aims and objectives. These aims and objectives need succinctly describe the education and learning practitioner’s educational approach, the outcomes of the session, and holistically establish the expected interaction between the learner and the practitioner, predict the likely learning activities, and infer the likely learning assessment tasks. The learning aims and objectives should be the mission statement for the particular learning practice session. It is essential therefore, that the aims and objectives remain the highest priority, as these become the ground that the learning practitioner can bring the learners back to during moments of uncertainty. With so many variables which can potentially change during a learning practice session, it is imperative that the learning practitioner does not waiver from, or neglect the aims and objectives of the learning session.
Step 2: Prior to the learning practice session I want to be in a position to pre-assess the learning group. The extent of the information I ideally need to know prior to developing my learning practice plans is about the background of each of the learners. Having taught across many nations and cultures, the following represents a typical list of information I would be seeking prior to a learning experience session:
  • Nationality – what is there nationality, and can any introductory stereo types be gleaned from this about this learner?
  • Culture – what is their culture, their values and beliefs? Are there any learners from a particular culture that may require consideration in the planning of this particular education & learning session?
  • Native Language – what is the 1st language of this nationality, and can any introductory assumptions be made about this learner?
  • Age – what is their approximate age, their life experience, and their generation?
  • Life experience – based on their age, can we make any assumptions about this learner?
  • Gender – what is their gender and can any national, cultural or age assumptions be made about this learner?
  • Education – where are they educated? and to what level of reading, writing and mathematics?
  • Work Experience – are they currently skilled in terms of an industry role/occupation, and if so, what type of skill is it (white collar, blue collar, other)?
  • Previous experiences in learning – what have their previous learning experiences been? And are these predominantly positive or negative experiences?
  • Learner personality. To what degree will the learners be able to engage in any and all types of planned learning tasks, without concern for their lack of engagement due to fears or discomfort with risk-taking, being shy, or introverted?
  • Learner aptitude – what are the learner’s aptitude to learning? To what degree have the learners previously demonstrated that they are able to learn in a learning session situation similar to what they are about to engage in?
  • Learner strategies – are the learner’s likely to have developed strategies to apply in this learning session situation to successfully realise the learning outcomes?
  • Learning styles – what range of learning styles are they likely to have; both in terms of VAKD modalities, and also according to Gardner’s multiple intelligences? How differentiated will the learners’ styles be within this group?
  • Learners motivation for engaging in this learning experience. What is their motivation for learning in this instance of learning?
  • Content experience – What experience do they have in the planned education and learning context? What do they already know of the planned content? What have they studied or learnt before? How will the planned content of this education and learning session potentially build upon their existing knowledge? To what degree can this learner already demonstrate understanding of content knowledge, or competency of the applied content?
  • Declared learning, medical, mental health, intellectual or physical impairment conditions. Do any of the learners have any declared learning, medical, mental health, intellectual or physical impairment that need to be planned for? Do any of learner’s suffer from hearing or sight issues? Anxiety issues that could be prevent them from undertaking a particular type of task? Are there likely to be environmental concerns such as access? How will you plan to support learners with declared learning, medical, mental health, intellectual or physical impairment conditions?
  • Undeclared or unaware disabilities that could affect the learners’ ability to successfully realise the planned sessions’ learning outcomes? How will you plan to support learners whose undeclared learning, medical, mental health, intellectual or physical impairment conditions may arise during your education & learning session?
Some important clarifying questions for this final point could be: Is there a required prerequisite to this learning session content?; and if so, what level has the learner likely to have achieved in that content – theoretically and practically? Has the learner also likely to have since that pre-requisite learning event, been able to gain experience applying it in a real world context? In terms of the cohort of learners for this learning experience: can it be assumed that all of the learners will be on the same level of this assumed pre-requisite content? If not, I would need to plan for a mixed-levels education and learning session, being prepared for disparate levels across the cohort, and have pre-thought of a range of multi-level tasks with varying degrees of expectations of activities and tasks, to accommodate the potential range of learner levels, depending on the learners actual level – theoretical or practical – at this time.

Layer 8d: My approach in preparing for a learning practice session Pt 4

 If the information highlighted in any of these points is not accessible prior to developing my learning practice plans, then I need to develop what I classify as a generic education & learning practice session plan – an education & learning practice plan which allows me to ascertain such information from within the classroom environment when I first meet with the learners, and then as I grow to know over the ensuing sessions that follow.
Step 3: In the development of initial drafts of a generic education & learning practice plan, I take into consideration the learning session aims and objectives, and plan for a number of education & learning experience scenarios. In order to address the likely event of having a greatly differentiated learner group – a learner group with a wide range of learner types with various thinking orientations or intelligence – I am likely to be in a position where I need to make assumptions, and plan for a range of different scenarios.
Stages of Practice
In every education & learning practice session, there are specific stages of practice. The stages of practice aid the flow of the practice session overall, by dividing the education & learning practice session into logical divisions of introduction, development, conclusion, and closure.
However, these stages of the practice session are dependent upon the approach – theory and method – of the education & learning practice. Therefore I need to answer the following question:
  • What is the approach that I will adopt for the education & learning practice that will inform my practice?
I consider a range of learning theories and methods that could be appropriate for this particular education & learning session. As an integral part of this process, I consider the basis of the learning outcomes. Are the required learning outcomes – in nature – technical? functional? interactive? or situational? I make a decision as to what approach I will adopt for this particular education & learning practice, and am now in the position to plan the stages of practice in greater detail. The four (4) stages are:
  • Stage 1: the introduction stage to the learners and the learning session  – sets out how I am planning to situate this particular  learning session for this particular group of learners?; how I am planning to illuminate to this particular group of learners, the planned learning outcomes of this session?
  • Stage 2: the central stage of the learning session (also referred to as the core stage of learning session) – describes how the purpose of the learning session – content and/or process – will be delivered across a series of tasks and activities. Describes how the learning session is going to be developed so that the desired content and/or process will align with the pre-agreed learning practice aims and objectives;
  • Stage 3: the evaluation stage – describes how I am planning to have the learning session evaluated in terms of the content and/or processes. How will I draw the education & learning practice session to a logical conclusion so that the learners can effectively and efficiently evaluate what they have learnt?  What evaluation tools will I use – informal and/or formal?
  • Stage 4: the closure stage – describes how the session will be closed.
Sub-stages of Practice
Stage 2 the main stage then needs to be further detailed into a number of discrete education & learning sub-stages. Depending upon the chosen theory or approach, the sub-stages of the Stage 2 learning practice can include:
    • Stage 2a: establishing the context for the learning content and/or process in a situational example;
    • Stage 2b; presentation/instruction stage, teaching of new content and/or process;
    • Stage 2c: a heavily guided scaffolded learning practice stage;
    • Stage 2d: a moderately guided scaffolded learning practice stage
    • Stage 2e: a lightly guided scaffolded learning practice stage, and ;
    • Stage 2f: a performance practice stage.
    • Stage 2g: a debriefing stage, reflecting on, and evaluating the experience of the practice stage
    For greater description of these sub-stages, I refer you to my blog.

Layer 8e: My approach in preparing for a learning practice session Pt 5

Step 4: The next step in developing the draft education & learning practice plan is to consider what learning activities and tasks I intend to draw upon to support the learning objectives.These education & learning activities and tasks need to be congruent with the learners background and their expectations, as discussed above. These activities can be intellectual, physical or multi-modal activities. Each of these stages of education & learning practice should allow the education & learning facilitator to facilitate activities and tasks that engage and mobilise the learners, providing effective and efficient opportunities for the learner.
All activities need to be carefully planned and described in detail, predicted times for each activity to be allocated, and clear instructions for those activities and tasks written. These activities and tasks may encompass one or more of the communication modalities: speaking and listening; writing and reading. For example, an education & learning activity and task could be:
  • a lecture,
  • a workshop  – the workshop is likely to include (in no particular order):
    • an individual work component;
    • a pairwork component;
    • a group work component – perhaps small group, or perhaps whole group.
  • or an external task-based project.
The learning session facilitator needs to consider the core learner modalities engaged in during a learning task. Is it predominantly verbal, visual (image, graphic or data-based such as text), or kinaesthetic? Will the planned task fully engage a differentiated learner group? If not, how can the task to be modified?
The learning session facilitator needs to consider the planned interaction that may occur during these activities and tasks, between the facilitator and learner. Facilitator talk is not problematic, providing the time spent is actually realising a very specific objective of the education and learning session.
I consider the likely flow of communication will be at each and every stage of the education & learning practice session. Ultimately: how much time will the facilitator be talking (Ft); and how much time will the learner be engaged in either speaking and listening, or writing and reading (Lt). On every education and learning plan, I provide a narrow column down the right-hand side, where I note the focus of the learning task – either Ft or Lt – and how much time it involves. I am then in a position to add these figures up, informing me of how much facilitator talk (Ft) time there is planned; and how much learner talk (Lt) time there is planned. This is a very quick way to ascertain the probable balance of the proposed education and learning session, with the opportunity for change prior to the session if a likely imbalance is predicted.
Lastly, I need to consider what activity is planned to occur during this time.
  •  What will learner be doing? 
I need to detail how the learners are expected to work during each specified task.
Similarly, I also need to detail what I as the facilitator will be doing
  • What will I do during this time?
    • classroom management?
    • managing education & learning practice session flow?
    • learning checks?
    • how will my voice likely be? animated? calm?
    • my positioning to the learners?
    • my engagement with the learners?
    • to what degree or distance will I be facilitating the process?
FINAL NOTE: Session activities and tasks need to be aligned with the chosen education and learning theory or approach, and ultimately the aims and the objectives of the particular practice session.

Layer 8f: My approach in preparing for a learning practice session Pt 6

Step 5: The next step in developing the draft learning practice plan is to consider what learning assessment tasks are going to be introduced throughout the learning practice, in order to evaluate the learners’ learning. These can be either:
  • Informal ‘on the fly’ formative assessment tasks by the learning practitioner;
  • More structured formative assessment tasks, or possibly even;
  • Formal summative assessment tasks as required for a formal accredited course.
The challenge of formatively assessing the learners can be outlined by the following questions:
  • How will I monitor learner progress and needs across the education and learning practice session?
  • How will I record the data or evidence of learner’s realised learning?
  • At any point in time, how will I best assess the learners are learning?
  • What prompting questions could I use to assist the formative assessment process?
  • What clarifying questions could I use to assist the formative assessment process?
  • What probing questions could I use to assist the formative assessment process?
  • What concept checking questions could I use to assist the formative assessment process?
  • Essentially, how will I identify if the learners have actually learnt the objective of the task?
 Irrespective of the type of learning session, it is usual for the first type of learning assessment to make up the majority of in-class assessment. It is not unusual for a proactive education and learning practitioner to be assessing the learners – individually, in small groups, in larger groups, or as a whole group – constantly throughout the learning session. Such attention to the learners at any point in time is I believe a significant aspect of the role of a contemporary education and learning practitioner. With large classes, such attention can become quite consuming; and therefore a more structured assessment task may be considered timely to relieve the education and learning practitioner for a period of time, effectively affording them a break from their practice oversight. Such a more structured assessment task can also afford the learner an alternative modality of engagement to the activities they have been engaged in. These learning assessments can be intellectual, physical or multi-modal activities. Irrespective, all learning assessment activities need to be carefully planned, times to be allocated carefully considered, and clear instructions planned. Lastly, it needs to be noted that these learning assessment activities need to be congruent with the proceeding activities, as well as the learners background and their expectations, as discussed above.

Layer 8g: My approach in preparing for a learning practice session Pt 7

Step 6: As indicated earlier, with my primary goal for the education & learning practice session to align the learning objectives, learning activities and tasks, and the learning assessment tasks, as I develop the draft learning practice plan, I take the predicted learner experience into consideration. I need to consider how the members of this particular learning experience are likely to approach the pending learning session. Entwistle and Ramsden outline a deep and a surface level of approach “used by students in a wide variety of tasks in different disciplines and departments” (1983, 136).
Deep levels of approach are listed as:
  • Personal experience – “integrating the task with one self”
  • Relationships – “integrating the parts into a whole”, and
  • Meaning – “integrating the whole with its purpose”.
Surface levels of approach are listed as:
  • Unrelatedness – “defining the task as separate or its parts as discrete
  • Memorisation – “defining the task as a memory task”, and
  • Unreflectiveness – “defining the task in an external way” (Entwistle and Ramsden 1983, 137)
Depending on the agreed outcome of this particular education & learning experience, the learners need to be prepared for the style of learning experience they are about to engage in. If the content is required for a competency assessment at a vocational level, one may find a surface level expectation is inherent within the learner. This may be appropriate to the way you as the learning facilitator may intend to engage in, and deliver the content. However, if a surface level expectation is inherent within the learner, and the agreed outcome of this particular learning experience is that of an undergraduate degree module, perhaps the expectation of the education & learning facilitator and the learner will be misaligned – at odds with each other. This misalignment of learning expectations could be problematic within the learning experience, causing a range of possible outcomes such as: learner resistance; learner unwillingness to be involved, engage, or share in the learning experience; further learner attitudinal issues such as becoming introverted, or in contrast, being disruptive or aggressive; or either learner of learner facilitator frustration. It is therefore necessary to ensure that the learner expectation and the learner facilitator expectations are aligned; and if not, addressed at the earliest opportunity.

Layer 8h: My approach in preparing for a learning practice session Pt 8

Step 7: The last step in developing the draft education & learning practice session plan is to consider what resources, tools and technology I may need to organise in order to support the specified learning objectives, learning activities & tasks, and the assessment tasks of that practice session.
Some focus questions could include:
  • What needs to be considered and completed before the education & learning practice session commences?
  • What materials and resources will I need to have prepared prior to class (human, physical, IT)?
  • What digital tools and/or resources will I want to use in this practice session?
  • Will I need any technical support? If so state what, where and when.
  • Do I need to contact IT support prior to my education & learning practice session?
  • Do I need to schedule time to load computer programs or learning technologies prior to class? 

Layer 8i: My approach in preparing for a learning practice session Pt 9

The final stage in this process – once the education & learning practice session plan has been developed – is to consider the various forms such a plan may be required to be presented in. Whilst I have outlined each of these forms via a specific applied example of education & learning practice in another blog series series (Page 1990), an overview of these are:
  1. Synopsis Education & Learning Practice Session plan: this summary paragraph will be used by the marketing department to actually advertise the education & learning practice session – to attract learners of the potential fit of this program for their specific needs
  2. Summary Education & Learning Practice Session plan: this brief summary document may include only a section of either the aims, objectives or learning outcomes; and probably the task headings of what is to be on the agenda of the education & learning practice session. It could be used to present to the learners at the start of the session to outline the skeletal program of the education & learning session. Good practice would be also to use at the close of the session to recap what has been covered over the course of the learning session;
  3. The Interpretive Education & Learning Practice Session plan: this document would include the rationale, the aims, the objectives, and the learning outcomes, but may or may not include an education & learning approach to be taken. This level of documentation could be used by facilitators who are going to deliver the program that can be afforded some individual freedom of the approach and the tasks;
  4. Prescriptive Education & Learning Practice Session plan: this document would include the rationale, the aims, the objectives, the learning outcomes, and the intended education & learning approach indicating the pedagogy or andragogy. This document can be used for facilitators who are required to deliver a course in a specific way. A tertiary level course with multiple tutorial groups could require this level of documentation. In this scenario there are likely multiple instructors across multiple classes of learners who the administrators believe would benefit from sharing a similar experience;
  5. Prescriptive Plus Education & Learning Practice Session plan: similar to the above, this document would also include the rationale, the aims, the objectives, the learning outcomes, and the intended education & learning approach indicating the pedagogy or andragogy. Perhaps a formal industry accreditation course with ongoing multiple tutorial groups could require this level of documentation. The facilitators are delivering a course with important outcomes, demanding a duplicatable session so that irrespective of which session a learner attends, the learners will share a similar learning experience to that of another person in another session;
  6. Full/Detailed Education & Learning Session Plan. This is the master, fully-scoped document that I as the practice session developer developed as part of my preparatory practice, detailing every aspect of the education & learning practice session, including the learner group, and contingency strategies to address possible changes in circumstances during the actual practice sessions; or
  7. Instructional Education & Learning Session Plan. This is another version of the full/detailed Education & Learning Session Plan, that may include specific criteria terminology outside of what one may expect in a usual Education & Learning Session Plan. The Instructional Education & Learning Session Plan may be provided to a practitioner-in-training in an organisation which requires specifically worded criteria to be met in order for that practitioner-in-training to meet minimum performance standards. Whilst the criteria terminology may be different to usual education & learning practice session, it certainly should only differ to a usual Education & Learning Session Plan in the way the essential elements are divided or described. It should in short, contain all of the usual Education & Learning Session Plan elements (Page 1990).
            This blog series is planned to continue with Educational Philosophy Part 3c .
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Haseman, B 2015. “Forensic reflective practice: effecting personal and systemic change.” Accessed May 24, 2015.
Kemp, Anthony E. 1996. The musical temperament. New York: Oxford University Press.
Knowles, Malcolm S, Elwood F Holton III and Richard A Swanson. 2012. The adult learner: the definitive classic in adult education and human resource development. 7 ed. New York: Routledge.
Lawrence-Wilkes, L. & Chapman, A. 2015. Reflective Practice. Accessed March 28th, 2015
Littauer, Florence. 1986. Your personality tree. Dallas: Word Publishing.
Markova, Dawna and Anne R Powell. 1996. How your child is smart: a life-changing approach to learning. Los Angeles: Conari Press.
McKee, Alan. 2003. Textual analysis: a beginner’s guide. London: Sage
Merriam, Sharan B. 2001. “Andragogy and self‐directed learning: Pillars of adult learning theory.” New directions for adult and continuing education 2001 (89): 3-14.
Millwood, Richard. 2013. Learning Theory v6_Millwood.D2.2.1.20130430  Accessed 28th March 2015
Page, David L .2015d. Music Practitioner Part 3 Accessed 28th March 2015
Parker, A and J Cutler-Stuart. 1986. Switch on your brain: a guide to better reading, concentration and coordination. Sydney: Hale and Iremonger.
Pascal, J., & Thompson, N. 2012. Developing critically reflective practice. Reflective Practice, 13(2), 311. doi: 10.1080/14623943.2012.657795
Pedagogy versus Andragogy chart courtesy of: Pedagogy vs Andragogy chart Accessed 28th March 2015
Peters, Thomas J. 2003. Re-imagine! London: Dorling Kindersley.
Peters, Thomas J and Nancy Austin. 1985. A passion for excellence. The leadership difference. London: Dorling Kindersley.
Peters, Thomas J, Robert H Waterman and Ian Jones. 1982. In search of excellence: Lessons from America’s best-run companies. London: Dorling Kindersley.
Pieper, Martha Heineman and William Joseph Pieper. 1999. Smart love: the compassionate alternative to discipline that will make you a better parent and your child a better person. Boston: Harvard Common Press
Robbins, Tony. 1991. Awaken the giant within: how to take immediate control of your mental, emotional, physical and financial. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Roth, Robert. 1989. “Preparing the reflective practitioner: transforming the apprentice through the dialectic“. Journal of Teacher Education 40 (2): 31-35
Ryan, Mary Elizabeth. 2014. Reflective practice in the arts. In Literacy in the Arts, edited by G Barton, 77-90. London: Springer.
SAE Institute, 2015 SAE Institute Accessed 28th March 2015
Schön, Donald A. 1987. Educating the Reflective Practitioner, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 355 + xvii pages.
Schön, Donald A. 1983. The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. Aldershot, England: Arena.
Sperry, Roger W. 1975. Left-brain, right-brain. Saturday Review 2 (23): 30-32.
Springer, Sally P and Georg Deutsch. 1993. Left brain, right brain. 4 ed. New York: WH Freeman & Company.
– ©David L Page 17/06/2015
– updated ©David L Page 20/11/2015
Copyright: No aspect of the content of this blog or blog site is to be reprinted or used within any practice without strict permission directly from David L Page.






Reflective Practice – Part 5

In addition to formal industry training, imitation and scaffolded experience, a third essential aspect of training and developing ones’ creative practice, is reflection (Burgess 2013, 35; Schön 1983, 3; McKee 2003; Roth 1989). Lawrence-Wilkes & Chapman (2015) encourage practitioners irrespective of their level within an industry or field: “Reflective practice provides an opportunity to enhance professional performance and self-development by enabling insight and assisting learning for new understanding, knowledge and action”.  Certain scholars believe reflective practice is so essential, one will experience a “crisis of confidence in professional knowledge” if it is lacking from ones’ practice routine (Schön 1983, 3). 

What is reflective practice?

The Art of self-reflection
Reflection allows for the consideration of your practice – “to understand, question, and investigate” – to appraise if one’s current processes are the most appropriate, or best practice (Brookfield 2002, 32). Reflective practice is learnt, a skill that develops with practice; and in my life experience, a skill you will draw on throughout your life, irrespective of your profession or role, or role in either family or society, to examine your practice – your strategic positioning or workflow. Schön believes reflective practitioner advocates are developing an “epistemology of practice implicit in the artistic, intuitive processes which some practitioners do bring to situations of uncertainty, instability, uniqueness and value conflict” (Ferry and Ross-Gordon 1998,99), for the benefit of all practitioners across all industries and fields.
Some academics have referred to reflective practice as ” ‘bending back’ upon oneself” (Archer in Ryan 2014, 80) in order to critically reflect on ones’ practice. Effectively looking over one’s shoulders back at their practice that they are either in the process of, have just completed, or completed some time previously in preparation for more practice. These steps are referred to as reflection-in-action, reflection-on-action and reflection-for-action (Schon 1983; Pascal and Thompson 2012). As Haseman (2015) acknowledges, such investigation is not referring to the casual capturing of aspects of ones’ practice, but the conscious deliberate disciplined act of probing ones’ practice. In contrast to Archer’s approach, Griffiths (2013) takes a more introspective approach with her focus on the self as a necessary part of effective reflective practice. It must be noted though, irrespective of their approaches, both Ryan and Griffiths agree that once critical reflective practice has taken place, then a practitioner needs to integrate the positive learnings into their practice from this point forth. Known as reflexive practice, this is a crucial step effectively completing the reflection process of: consideration of one’s practice, evaluating and analysing one’s options, choices, decisions, workflows, and results, concluding with the development of one’s practice with what one has learnt as a result of the reflection process.
Therefore in summary: Haseman’s (2015) model, referred to as Forensic Reflective Practice, requires the following criteria:
  • Reflexive practice rather than only reflective practice
  • Inclusion of the field, the site and autobiography of the practitioner, and
  • Tools for probing practice, rather than casual capturing of phenomena


Figure I – Forensic reflective practice chart (Haseman 2015)

Strategies to practice reflection?

Tools for probing practice can take many forms, and again their is much opinion regarding what form and medium these tools take. Gibbs’ model relies on questions that the practitioner can ask of themselves within a conscious reflective practice cycle, such as:
  • Description: what happened?
  • Feelings: what were you thinking and feeling?
  • Evaluations: what was good and bad about the experience?
  • Analysis: what sense can you make of the situation?
  • Conclusion: what else could be done?
  • Generalizable rule: If it arose again, what would you do?
  • Description: etc, etc
Reflective Practice Cycle_Gibbs.1988
Figure II – Reflective Cycle (Gibbs in Knowles et al 2006)
Roth’s (1989) model for unpacking the reflective process is somewhat similar, though encouraging greater depth and further investigation as required. Together, these conceptual frameworks provide several perspectives and facilitate ways in which to think critically about practice, and uncover what is, exactly, effective practice. They provide a platform for revealing the efficacy of reflective pedagogical practices in light of industry guidelines.
  • Questioning what, why, and how one does things and asking what, why, and how others do things
  • Seeking alternatives
  • Keeping an open mind
  • Comparing and contrasting
  • Seeking the framework, theoretical basis, and/or underlying rationale
  • Viewing from various perspectives
  • Asking “what if…?”
  • Asking for others’ ideas and viewpoints
  • Using prescriptive models only when adapted to the situation
  • Considering consequences
  • Hypothesising
  • Synthesising and testing
  • Seeking, identifying, and resolving problems
As practitioners often use reflective practices informally {see above point re casual capturing of aspects of ones’ practice}, it is the aim of experienced reflective practitioners to ensure the reflective practice processes are clear and transparent so they can be examined closely for their value, limitations and assumptions of the practitioner (McKee, 2003).

Advice for novice reflective practitioners

Reflective practice is a raw and in-depth account of one’s practice. It is meant to be reflective and introspective. It is not meant to be a sales pitch to another person, irrespective of whether that person is in a position of authority (for example a HE Lecturer for an assessment task) or not.
For those practitioners who are engaging in reflective practice for the first time, I provide the following considerations. In my experience a range of potential challenges may be encountered in reflective practice, where one is both the researcher and the subject of the study [“research as subject” (Griffiths 2011,184)]. Given this practice, it is critical that one demonstrates academic virtue, rigour and transparency of researcher as subject to avoid bias. As a researcher, I subscribe to Griffith’s view that irrespective of what research methodologies one utilises – quantitative, qualitative ethnographic or auto-ethnographic – the researcher must illuminate their “relationships, circumstances, perspectives and reactions”, making these clear to the reader (Griffiths 2011, 184). One way of addressing the separation of the self, is to ensure there are a diverse range of reflective devices and mediums in order to capture the data, so that these multiple-methods can then be used to distill the true data about my self and processes, in order to crystalize the outcomes and conclusions. It is a goal of mine in my research studies to showcase the benefits and merits of such a qualitative study, particularly within a creative arts field, and therefore to have demonstrated academic virtue (Bridges 2003 in Griffiths, 2011, 183), be considered to have rigour, and guarded against bias, is a primary goal of mine for this KK59 Doctorate of Creative Industries research study.

Methods I employ in reflective practice

I regularly and deliberately take the time to reflect on what I am doing in my practice: reflection-in-action, reflection-on-action and reflection-for-action (Schon 1983; Pascal and Thompson 2012). This reflection could occur on-site of my practice, or off-site. Not only do I observe my practice, but by networking, collaborating, researching and pursuing the education of myself,  I get to observe my peers’ practices. This may be done by direct observation of peers or mentors, via resources such as texts and videos, or via attending courses.


Figure III – Reflective Practices Summary (Anderson et al 2015)
I am looking for innovative structures, techniques or equipment that other practitioners may be employing in their creative, pre-production, production, or post-production stage processes, in order to realise unique musical or sonic qualities or textures. I closely observe their practice, evaluating and analysing their options, choices, decisions, workflows and results. Reflexively, I then consider any disparities, innovations and possible developments that I may choose to integrate and develop my practice with what I have learnt as a result of the reflection process.
It is imperative that one has systematic methods and mediums decided upon prior to embracing reflective practice. The multiple-mediums and methods I use to record, describe or reflect on my experiences or observations during, immediately after, or some time after, are:
  • Pro Tools DAW software
  • Apple Macintosh iMac 27”, and Apple Macintosh MacBookPro 17”
  • iPhone for notes, impromptu recordings, messages
  • Zoom H6 recording device
  • Use a Microsoft Office programs such as excel and word to produce Content chart and Headings to enter structural notes – main topic headings, and sub-headings – and then develop as ideas and thoughts comes across ones mind whilst reading or typing;
  • Use of electronic folders on my computer HD with each folder representing a heading, and/or sub-heading etc. Folders can then also contain related word docs, pdfs, graphics, charts, etc;
  • Using pen and paper to create mindmaps while conceptualising, reading, summarising at certain times of the day;
  • Using iThought (mind map app) to create mindmaps while conceptualising, reading, summarising whilst using a computer;
  • Using iNotes (notepad on Mac) to jot down points as I am reading electronic journals or texts;
  • Directly copying a significant quote with full reference into word doc (with full reference imported into Endnote), so as to return to it later;
  • Highlighting significant passages or references, or writing into the sides of paper texts or journals, and then transferring these into word document to keep a more developed log or commence to develop a draft of an essay;
  • Use pieces of paper or iPhone to record ideas or thought comes across ones mind whilst reading, typing, driving, walking, having a coffee, chatting with peers, critical friend.
  • Creating charts to chart my progress – physical and electronic;
  • Prose and song lyrics;
  • Musical compositions;
  • Doodles, graphics or images;
  • Recording video and audio messages and notes;
  • Blogs, or web-based curation;
  • Network of critical friends, as external eyes and ears for both personal, creative, affective and effective development.
Anderson, C, Carolyn Carattini, Heather Clarke, Gail Hewton, David Page 2015 QUT KKP623 Reflective Practice in Action Group Presentation submission Accessed October 24, 2015.
Brookfield, Stephen. 1986. Understanding and facilitating adult learning: a comprehensive analysis of principles and effective practices. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
Burgess, Richard James. 2013. The art of music production: the theory and practice. New York: Oxford University Press.
Ferry, Natalie M. and Jovita M. Ross-Gordon. 1998. An inquiry into Schön’s epistemology of practice: exploring links between experience and reflective practice. In Adult Education Quarterly 48 (2): 98-112. doi: 10.1177/074171369804800205.
Gibbs’ Reflective cycle image courtesy of:  Accessed 5th June, 2015
Griffiths, Morweena. 2010. Research and the self. In The Routledge companion to research in the arts, edited by M Biggs and H Karlsson, 167-185. London: Routledge.
Haseman, B 2015. Forensic reflective practice: effecting personal and systemic change. Accessed 7th July, 2015.
Knowles, Zoë, Gareth Tyler, David Gilbourne and Martin Eubank. 2006. Reflecting on reflection: exploring the practice of sports coaching graduates. Reflective Practice 7 (2): 163-179.
Lawrence-Wilkes, L and A Chapman. 2015. Reflective practice. Accessed 2nd June, 2015.
McKee, Alan. 2003. Textual analysis: a beginner’s guide. London: Sage.
Pascal, J and N Thompson. 2012. Developing critically reflective practice. In Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives 13(2) 311-325. Accessed June 12, 2015. doi: 10.1080/14623943.2012.657795.
Roth, Robert A. 1989. Preparing the reflective practitioner: transforming the apprentice through the dialectic. In Journal of Teacher Education 40 (2): 31-35.
Ryan, Mary Elizabeth. 2014. Reflective practice in the arts. In Literacy in the Arts, edited by G Barton, 77-90. London: Springer.
Schön, Donald A. 1983. The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. Aldershot, England: Arena.
All other images and charts courtesy of: DLP Accessed 7th June, 2015
Self reflection image courtesy of: Self Reflection for Personal Growth  Accessed 5th June, 2015
– ©David L Page 08/06/2015
Copyright: No aspect of the content of this blog or blog site is to be reprinted or used within any practice without strict permission directly from David L Page.







History Music Production Part 4d – Digital Project Studios become the platform for contemporary DIY music-making?

AE Project Studio
(MIDAS 2014)
This blog is a continuation of a series. See here (Page 2015a) for the previous blog.

The changing field of music production

Portable Studio

With the development of laptops and handheld microphones such as the Zoom H4, the project studio got smaller and more mobile. Coined as portable studios, anyone with musical aspirations could compose and produce in a studio one moment, and then move outside to into nature, or even the extreme, “on the beach of a remote seaside island under battery power” and continue to compose and produce (Huber and Runstein 2013, 78). Such flexibility of recording environments enabled the composer producer the choice of using actual instruments (acoustic or digital), virtual instruments, purchased sample libraries, or creating their own sample libraries directly from the environment they habituate using these portable studios. The laptop, particularly the Apple MacBookPro, was an integral part of this technological development enabling the portability of music production.

Making Mirros_Goyte

(Goyte, 2011)
Discussing the music production process of his 2011 Grammy Award winning “Making Mirrors” CD, Goyte reinforced choice with “some songs I sang into the mic of the MacBookPro – for whatever reason it sounded really good in that room and I left it in the final mix” (Holder 2011). Hewitt concludes that such choice and options of practice allows aspiring music producers “a significant degree of creative freedom”, to “produce highly accomplished soundtracks”, of a standard where “some of these tracks … can literally be sent straight to the record company for final mastering” (Hewitt 2008, xv). Certainly, the portable studio became a new environment for music production (Huber and Runstein 2013, 78). Specialising in the Post-Production stage of the Music Production process, Grammy award winning Mix Engineer Leslie Braithwaite mixed the Grammy Award winning song “Happy” entirely within a digital audio workstation (Tingen, 2014).
BraithwaiteSoS..201405(Tingen 2014)

Contemporary music-making practitioners challenging traditional industry standards?

Technology has continued to develop at an exponential rate, with increasing “interest and wider adoption of DIY cultures and practices through 1) easy access to and affordability of tools and 2) the emergence of new sharing mechanisms” such as the internet having a prolific effect on the widespread interest of music production (Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010, 295; Wallis 2001,10). Numerous companies commenced manufacturing to fill “a tremendous need for good and affordable sound equipment”, entrenching the “prosumer or home-recording market” (Music Group 2015). Continuing technological developments influenced the increase of music production setups in the home, based around a personal computer, a sound card, and some form of digital audio workstation to either record or arrange the music. The technological developments have afforded multiple benefits, such as decreased production costs and increased convenience. With project studios, “the hiring of expensive studios was no longer a requisite” (Izhaki 2013, xiiii). More major artists were being recorded in these evironments [1]. Other professionals[2] such as Braithwaite moved their workflow entirely within a digital audio workstation.
Live rig_20160131
(AE 2015)
As Leyshon highlighted, “the recording studio sector is not a particularly profitable or efficient part of the musical economy overall” (2009, 1315), and therefore from an industry perspective, it was positive that alternative options evolved. The development of the digital audio workstation, along with virtual instruments and sample libraries, provided resources ready to include into productions (Gilreath 2010). The project studio now had virtual technology accessible by both novice and professional producers alike. This “brought about monumental changes in the business of music and professional audio”, with music producers able to “select from a wide range of tools and toys to generate specific sounds – or to get the particular sounds that he or she likes”, without needing to have that instrument or musician capable of playing that instrument, on hand (Huber and Runstein 2013,76). In an article on best practice within the music industry, Wallis (2001, 13) observed that access to user-friendly technology has “resulted in many creative artistic talents achieving a high degree of IT literacy, leading to the emergence of the combined studio producer/ writer role. Max Martin from Sweden…is such an example”. Today, continuing technological developments have further opened the field and discipline to an even broader market. Music production technology is now accessible to anyone who has a degree of interest in the creation and production of music, irrespective of their background {social status or professional role}, their musical or professional audio training and/or experience, or the genre of music they may be interested in attempting to produce, making for a truly diverse and eclectic music production society (Burgess 1997, 34; Rogers 2013).
Historically, the music and audio industry’s standards have addressed economic and technical criteria. Both of these criteria are included in annual industry award events, well known and usually televised events the public engages in with interest, as they make up the consumer market for such music and audio artifacts (ie songs, mp3s, CDs, albums). The Grammy Awards (The US), the British Music Awards (the UK), and the ARIA Awards (Australia) acknowledge publically released artists and their music, in terms of specific criteria such as: commercial success (song sales via record companies and formal distribution channels such as i-tunes); popularity (via radio play which may or may not transfer into song sales[3]); with a few categories acknowledging the technical and creative expertise of the engineers and producers behind the artists[4]. “A successful record producer is, by definition, someone who has had multiple hits” (Burgess 1997, 162).  Artists such as Lorde are taking greater control of their creative careers by proactively tasking aspects of the music production process themselves. Lorde writes her own compositions, and has achieved  global success in part by engaging in informal distribution channels such as ‘Soundcloud’[5], However, Lorde remains produced by an external professional[6], and therefore does not fit entirely within the definition of contemporary DIY music production practitioner (Bockstedt et al 2005).
Different Motivation?
The limitation of such an industry standard such as the awards listed above is two-fold.  Firstly, these awards acknowledge only publically-released music through formal distribution channels. Secondly, the awards are predominantly for non-DIY artist producers, where the artists contract the professional services of an external producer.
Perhaps motivated by the power imbalance and limited access to studios in the 1970’s and 1980’s, aligned with the broader social and cultural developments of DIY culture from the 1970s, with music-makers in the new era of project and mobile studios, emerging as a new generation of prosumers – both producers and consumers (Theberge 1997, P3; Hracs, 2012). The ever increasing access to technology appears to be attracting a diverse range of aspiring practitioners to he process of music creation and production. Burgess has observed the diversity of DIY music production practitioners has expanded from the previous music producer list several decades earlier of artist/musician, audio engineer, songwriter, entrepreneur and multipath, to now include: DJ, self-taught/school-trained and discoverer (2013, 29). In addition, as Rogers in his 2010 study on local musicians in the Brisbane scene found, there are now varying levels of professionalism found amongst the participants: professional, semi-professional, emerging and several non-commercial aspirational levels – including amateur or hobbyist practices (Rogers 2013, 168). By far, the largest group is the amateur category. I adopt the term amateur “not as a reflection on a hobbyists’ skills, which are often quite advanced, but rather, to emphasise that most of DIY culture is not motivated by commercial purposes” (Kuznetson and Paulos 2010, 295) . The “status and position of the amateur have been redeemed and a new, less aristocratic, breed of amateur has emerged .. (who) .. are technologically literate, seriously engaged, and committed practitioners” (Prior 2010, 401). A contemporary DIY music production practitioner is not likely to be motivated by economic motivations, and less likely to release their music through formal distribution channels. In fact, they are likely to deliberately choose to release their music through alternative informal independent DIY music channels in line with DIY ideals (Purdue et al 1997).
DIY Image
DIY perspectives are particularly influential in music production, in many ways redefining the field today (Kealy 1982; Hemphill and Leskowitz 2012; Frith 1992; Watson and Shove 2008; Watson 2014; Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010; Ritzer and Jurgenson 2010; Purdue et al. 1997), traditional standards of effective practice, which have played a central role in the music production industry, are now being challenged. Music and audio industry’s standards of commercial sales and technical criteria (Burgess 1997, 162; Grammy Awards 2015; Gibson 2006, 42; Recording Producers and Engineers Wing 2008) appear to be less valued by contemporary DIY music production practitioners. Breaking with previously accepted industry practices (Hracs,2012), the notion of ‘effective practice’ appears to be actively disregarded due to the prioritizing of other motivations such as creativity, emotional connection, networking, and free-spiritedness. That is, creative practice, affective practice and social practice, with a preparedness to reject accepted effective practice (eg: technical or genre standards) as the contemporary DIY music production practitioner sees fit (Montana and Charnov 2000,12; Robbins et al 2009, 313; Griffin 1996; Rogers 2013, 168; McWilliam 2008, 38; Davie 2012, 41).

In summary

Prior to my own research study and planned interviews, what I have discovered about the likely profile of a contemporary DIY music production practitioner is: They appear to be proactive, resourceful, tenacious and rebellious practitioners with eclectic backgrounds, musical tastes and skill levels. They most certainly possess a just do it spirit as the Nike slogan has encouraged since 1971. They are likely motivated by creative, affective or social practice, rather than effective practice, making aesthetic choices over technical standards, and working in what could be once considered, ineffective or inefficient workflows. They are more likely to be passionate hobbyists, who want to create, express and be heard, using project or portable technology as either a studio or an instrument, probably in a way that was not originally intended by the manufacturer, and yet creating unique sonic qualities or textures, influencing new genres to emerge (Wallis 2001,13; Burgess 2013, 29; Huber and Runstein 2013,76; Izhaki 2013, xiiii; Gilreath 2010; Watson 2014; Burke 2011; Doyle 2008; Wallis 2001,11; Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010, 296; Spencer 2005, 226-273; Moran 2011, 1; Rogers 2013, 168; Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010, 295; Watson 2013, 334; Prior 2010, 401; Watson 2013, 331; Braithwaite alluded in Tingen 2014; Theberge 2012, 6; Hracs et al 2013, 1144).
[1] In 2005, Stuart Price used his home-based project studio, based around an Apple computer with a range of analogue outboard hardware and synthesizers to produce Madonna’s commercially successful ‘Confessions On A Dancefloor’ album, achieving commercial success reaching the US Music charts (Doyle 2008).
[2] Grammy award winning Mix Engineer Leslie Braithwaite mixed the Grammy Award winning song “Happy” entirely within a digital audio workstation. He explains his recent change of workflow to a DAW-only workflow: “With my workload increasing and me also trying to meet the demands for smaller budget projects, going into the box made total sense” (Tingen 2014).
[3] Radio play which may or may not translate into album sales such as Australia’s Triple ZZZ ‘Unearthed series’, acknowledging emerging artists, and by default, their productions (ABC 2015)
[4] Within these music and sound awards, there are numerous categories, in which the artist, the producers and the recording engineers are acknowledged. These categories cover predominantly the economic criteria (album or song sales), but there are some categories that acknowledge the technical and creative of music production. For example: ‘68. Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical’, ’69 Producer of the year, Non-Classical’, ’70 Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical’, ‘72 Best Engineered Album, Classical’ (Grammy Awards 2015).
[5] is an informal hosting site for musicians, producers and artists. Soundcloud is not a sales based distribution site, and therefore I am classifying it an informal distribution site, as it is possible to generate interest to a potential consumer market (Souncloud 2015)
[6] Lorde’s producer of her first album was local Auckland NZ producer, Joel Little (Davie 2015)
This blog will continue next month History of Music Production Part 5a – The DIY Music-making practitioner (Page 2015b).
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– updated ©David L Page 24/07/2015
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