Charlene Ryan

Associate Professor
617 747-6020

"I teach Elementary Methods, which prepares students to be elementary-level music teachers. The focus is on kindergarten through fifth grade—a critical period for musical development. We work on developing the singing voice, musical creativity, early composition and improvisation skills, and skills on classroom instruments. We also work a lot on curriculum and lesson planning and assessment, and strategies for managing classes with diverse learners. All music education students must take this course, because the state of Massachusetts certifies them to teach music from kindergarten through 12th grade—they have to have training at all levels and for all teaching areas."

"Choral Rehearsal Techniques is also a really fun class. I structure it like a lab. I give students scores that they would use in a typical middle or high school choir, and they prepare them to teach. They learn the parts, the text, the conducting; they plan the most effective and efficient way to teach them. Then they actually teach and conduct the work, over a series of weeks. They get up in front of their classmates and teach them as if they were teaching a middle or high school class. They need to think a little differently, to imagine that they are not working with their professional peers, but rather with developing musicians. For example, they need to think: 'How would I approach this particular piece with middle schoolers, who have some reading skills, but maybe not extensive reading skills?'"

"I record in all my classes, because it brings everything home for the students. It is a course requirement that they watch their videos from a critical perspective. I prepare a form for  them to complete that helps guide their observation—things that they need to assess in their own teaching. I usually don't give students my assessment until I have theirs, so that they've had that moment to really think about how they approached the lesson, and how things went—the good and the not-so-good—without having my voice in their ears first."

 
Career Highlights

 

  • B.M., University of Western Ontario
  • B.M.Ed., Memorial University
  • M.M., University of Michigan
  • Ph.D., McGill University
  • Author of Building Strong Music Programs: A Handbook for Preservice and Novice Music Teachers (MENC and Rowman and Littlefield Education), selected by Choice Magazine as a 2010 Outstanding Academic Title
  • Former president of the Quebec Music Educators' Association
  • Articles published in the Journal of Research in Music Education, Psychology of Music, International Journal of Stress Management, Medical Problems of Performing Artists, International Journal of Research in Music Education, and Teaching Music
  • Recipient of major Canadian federal research grant for the study of the development and experience of performance anxiety in children and adolescents
  • Formerly chair of music education at McGill University