Music Practitioner Part 6 – Reflective Practitioner

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 reflection 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

forensic-reflective-practice_haseman

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.

reflection-in-on-for-action

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.
References
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: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/543739354987865666  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. https://blackboard.qut.edu.au/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_118711_1&content_id=_5744651_1.
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. http://www.businessballs.com/reflective-practice.htm.
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.
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