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Key Learnings from an International Social Entrepreneurship Collaboration: Songs to Change Our World.


This case study chronicles an international collaboration between four higher education institutions in three different countries. Supported by a MEIEA (Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association) grant, the project brought together creative practice, music industry, and entrepreneurship students. As a faculty group we began with a broad set of overarching aims and principles which then informed the design of the project.

1. Promote music business and entrepreneurial skills across different territories

2. Encourage intercultural communication and creative collaboration

3. Explore the role of music to foster awareness of social and environmental issues

4. Facilitate global networks

5. Foster cultural sensitivity

Phase One: March 2017-June 2017       Songwriting and music production
International collaborative creative  students from Queensland
practice                              University of Technology, Bergen
                                      Community College, and the
                                      University of Auckland

Phase Two: April 2017-July 2017       Reflection and revision of the
The challenges of international       original plan by the project
collaboration                         leader

Phase Three: August 2017-May 2018     Students from Indiana University
Networking, social entrepreneurship   and Bergen Community College
project development, and marketing

Conceptual Framework

According to Sik (2016) in contrast to other disciplines, artists prefer creating alone and are less interested in brainstorming sessions, managerial support, and financial gains. Contrary to these findings, collaboration between songwriters and musicians is the industry norm and has been common practice for centuries. Bennett (2011) found that the majority of songs in the Billboard charts are written by collaborative teams who interact through approving and adapting stimulus materials, hence validating each other's ideas. Furthermore, Chase and Hatschek (2010) identified emotional, social, intellectual, and musical competence as well as the ability to collaborate with artists at a mature and productive level as the most desired traits for new employees. Consequently, they questioned traditional education methods in much of American higher education, suggesting that the lecture-essay-examination model would not equip students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences required for a successful music industry career. Bruenger (2015) advocated for a curriculum that reflects the evolving complexity of the music industry, and fosters the development of adaptive capacity in students through active learning. Such models include the use of simulations (Strasser 2006), student-run business structures (Butler 2007; Morrow 2008; Tomkins and Schlesinger 2010), journaling (Bolin et al. 2005; Pavlovich 2007), and internships (Frenette 2013). Nevertheless, Jacobs (2005) cautions about giving students "their reins before they have learned to walk safely." Hence, Draper (2008) argues for developing strategies for knowledge transfer from the inside out, appropriated and adopted by the students themselves, rather than top down.

This paper uses a reflection-based approach proposed by Kreber (1999). This approach is based on her conception that pedagogically-oriented academics engage in peer-reviewed scholarship though content, process, and premise reflection. Kreber addresses research and experiencebased studies in the areas of instruction, pedagogy, and curriculum. After a literature review that includes discussion of principles of creativity and various forms of group collaboration across institutions of higher learning, we provide a description of the specific cross-institutional teaching process we employed and learning outcomes and observations between Indiana University (United States), Bergen Community College (United States), The University of Auckland (New Zealand), and the Queensland University of Technology (Australia). Finally, we will offer a discussion of the data and observations collected throughout the process with recommendations for implementation of similar projects and further development of collaborative teaching techniques.

Literature Review

Principles of Creativity and Group Collaboration

With more than one hundred published definitions (Meusburger 2009), creativity has been identified as one of the most important factors for satisfactory living and job effectiveness. Originality and effectiveness are commonly identified as measurements of creativity, but especially in a business environment creativity is observed through product improvement or new avenues of operation (Amabile 1998). Hence, group collaboration towards a creative product is essential for success beyond the presence of creative individuals. Similarly, motivation plays an important role, especially an intrinsic drive to gain pleasure and satisfaction from creative challenges. Amabile's research identifies six managerial practices that influence creativity: challenge, freedom, resources, work-group features, supervisory encouragement, and organizational support.

The jazz metaphor drawing on principles of interaction in a jazz combo is frequently used to conceptualize effective group collaboration. For example, Holbrook (2008) draws parallels between the jazz genre and principles of improvisation to management and marketing. Further comparisons with the jazz model are discussed in the areas of improvisational behaviors (Hatch 1998; Hatch 1999; Weick 1990; Hadida, Tarvainen, and Rose 2015), product innovation (Kamoche and Cunhae 2001; Kamoche et al. 2003; Akgun et al. 2007), organizational innovation (Crossan 1997; Bastien and Hostager 1998; Pasmore 1998; Holbrook 2008), actors within an organization (Kao 1996), strategic decision making (Eisenhardt 1989), market orientation (Dennis and Macaulay 2007), service performance (John, Grove, and Fisk 2006) and leadership within organizations (Walzer and Salcher 2003; Newton 2004). Herzig and Baker (2014) developed a seven-factor model for group creativity based on the jazz jam session. The seven factors are individual competence and knowledge of the field, practicing improvisation, establishing a mentoring system, democracy and collaboration, leaders and sidemen, community support, and a continuous evaluation system. This model is taught and implemented for the Arts Entrepreneurship course taught by Herzig at Indiana University, who joined the project as the final group of student participants.

International Collaborations in Higher Education

Cajander et al. (2012) identified a range of issues that need to be managed carefully in international student collaborations. Logistically, universities across the globe work with different course durations, curriculum contexts, and grading schemes. Hence, there are significant advantages if international collaborations are designed to sit outside individual course structures and curricula. Different semester schedules, break weeks, time zones, and holidays need to be factored in as they can affect deadlines and cause frustration among teams and individuals. Real-time collaboration may be difficult when working across a wide range of time zones. As well, cultural differences have the potential to impact projects in various ways. The communication and work styles of the participants as well as differences in interpretation of situations and directions, and significant language barriers can cause issues (Lajoie et al. 2006).

As described by Holmstrom et al., "despite flexible work hours and communication technologies that enable asynchronous communication, extensive delay in responses brings with it a feeling of 'being behind' and 'missing out'--even losing track of the overall work process" (12). Cajander et al. (2012) recommend guidelines on email/communication etiquette and require regular full-team meetings. Opportunities for online video conferencing, and where possible, face-to-face in-person meetings, establish a feeling of trust and understanding between participants, increasing the quality of communication and social interaction.

Collaboration Through Social Media/Digital Technologies

Active community participation and interactions in online communities may produce social knowledge and lifelong learning beyond conventional classroom learning. Bereiter and Scardamalia (2013) proposes a new theory of the mind that argues against the notion that the mind is a container to be filled. Rather, he explores the role of individual minds in the production of social knowledge. He then argues that collaborative online learning emphasizes the building of knowledge through active community participation and interactions, as opposed to more conventional models that emphasize the acquisition of information and factual knowledge.

This sits in stark contrast to conventional music studio educational practices where the master-apprentice model is preferred over reciprocal peer learning. Any shift towards a more ad-hoc environment with a focus on peer learning could be challenging for music educators and students alike. Salavuo (2008) explains that, in formal education, students tend to perform for credits or a good grade.

The learning activities suggested in this project do not stipulate a particular curriculum on the understanding that the necessary learning will occur on demand as students navigate various music industry concepts. Following Salavuo, therefore, we were interested in exploring the idea that assessment need not exist in a conventional sense, but rather as an opportunity for students to evaluate and reflect on the authentic music industry projects that they themselves implemented and managed.

Social networking that employs information and communication technologies is emerging as a highly naturalized practice in everyday life. Given the real-world learning opportunities and global collaboration afforded by our project, social networking and use of the relevant online platforms became the natural day-to-day of our business and as exemplified in this project, a platform for the creation and promotion of creative work. A social network is created by people unified by shared interests and common goals (Pettenati and Cigognini 2007). The spontaneous interactions and informal conversations via social media constitute a large part of informal learning and contribute to the creation and transmission of knowledge. Ito, Livingstone, Penuel, Rhodes, Salen, Schor, Sefton-Green and Watkins (2013), in their proposal for a "connected learning" approach (5), point out that participants in online communities have the ability to learn, create good work and exercise leadership, thus increasing the capacity and value for others in their community and beyond. With classrooms based on standardized metrics and individual competitiveness, Ito et al. argue that:
The classroom experience does not elevate culture at large or expand a
valuable social network if the activity ends at the classroom walls.
Further, when individual competence is assessed based on grades, test
scores, and other standardised and summative metrics, one student's
success highlights another student's failure. (48)

Our research strives to understand the role of dialogue and exchange in these networked environments. Ravenscroft (2011) emphasizes that, until now, researchers have been concentrating on network technologies, the connections within these networks, and on the way in which these influence perspectives on knowledge. Downes (2010) and his "connected knowledge" theory, also emphasizes the dialogue process. As he explains: "These trends combine to form what is sometimes called e-learning 2.0 --an approach to learning that is based on conversation and interaction, on sharing, creation and participation, embedded in meaningful activity such as games and workflows" (1). We therefore do not aim to evaluate or rate our program, but rather open up a communal space for conversation, reflection, and a shared evaluation of the experience. We do this as colleagues, and with our students as partners in learning.


The approach for this project is based on a constraint-based, problem-solving model of the innovation process (Stokes 2013). This means that through paired constraints an issue that evolves from a constraint is resolved by a substitution or change suggested from a paired constraint. Thus the solution proceeds by iterations of substitutions in small increments towards a novel solution path. The process does not preclude preplanning as a first step towards alterations. However, the final product cannot be predicted and is the result of continuous alterations over many iterations of the process. Similarly, the faculty group initially planned the collaborative project with the understanding that the outcome will be the culmination of successive problem-solving and iterations of the project towards a yet unknown product. This understanding of the entrepreneurial process conforms with Kolb's (2014) theory of a four-step cycle of experiential learning: concrete experience, observation and reflection, forming abstract concepts, and testing in new situations.

Based on the assumptions above, we have chosen a case study approach allowing us to conduct our investigation using an empirical inquiry of real-world phenomena within its naturally occurring context (Kaarbo and Beasley 1999; Yin 2009). Fieldwork is suitable, as the intention of the research was to reveal emerging processes as they occurred in the field (Hammersley and Atkinson 2007). This also allowed for a variety of data collection strategies, including participant observations (Jorgensen 1989) of our students in action, in both face-to-face and online contexts. These observations, along with our own reflections were conveyed in regular debriefing discussions as a faculty group via email and Skype meetings. Action items from each meeting were implemented according to the problem-solving model and key learnings recorded. Most collaborative work made use of online platforms. Our roles were multifaceted, as we all took part as researchers, teachers, and learning designers.

Project Design

Phase One: Collaborative Creative Practice (March 2017-June 2017)

Activities and Courses:

* Twelve undergraduate Creative Practice in Popular Music year-three students from the University of Auckland started working on the project in late March 2017. Forming collaborative groups and composing with Bergen Community College or QUT students was a compulsory coursework assignment for them

* Approximately twenty songwriting students and alumni from Songwriting Workshop at Bergen Community College were invited to participate as songwriters and producers as an optional assignment

* All undergraduate students from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Bachelor of Music course were invited to participate as an optional activity (Approximately 120 students)

* Facebook group created in early April 2017 to introduce all participating students and encourage the formation of collaborative creative teams

* Four international groups were formed and one group produced and recorded a song

For the first phase of the project, our aim was for a group of music students to produce a collection of original songs addressing social or environmental issues of global importance. This part of the project occurred between March and June 2017, and involved students from Bergen, Auckland, and QUT. The creative groups of two or more musicians were formed via introductions on the Songs to Change Our World Facebook page. Entertainment industry students from QUT and Bergen were also invited to document and capture the creative process and to consider ways to prepare for the next step of disseminating the music and implementing projects. Participation in these collaborations was mandatory for the Auckland student group as part of their coursework and voluntary for the others. Both approaches provided an experiential opportunity to develop international networks.

Phase Two: Reflection and Revision of the Original Plan (April-July 2017)

Activities and Courses:

* In response to the issue of having only one completed song to work with, a contingency plan was formed by the project leaders

* This plan involved a peer-review exercise by the Indiana students of songs already completed by the Auckland University, Bergen Community College, and QUT students for assessment within their undergraduate programs and including the songs into the final phase of the project

* 120 QUT students in 24 groups and 14 University of Auckland students were composing social justice themes in their songwriting classes between February and June 2017. These songwriting assignments were not connected to the Songs to Change Our World project

* Six Bergen Community College students enrolled in Music in the Marketplace collaborated with students from QUT on administration of Facebook and SoundCloud pages as well as documenting team collaborations

This phase of the project occurred between April and July 2017. While there was much initial excitement and interest around potential student collaborations, four groups emerged that included students from the three participating universities, and only one group produced a finished song. This group was comprised of two creative practice students from Auckland and a songwriter who had recently graduated from Bergen. After this, music industry students from Bergen and QUT collaborated on creating a SoundCloud page to feature the results. During this period, the faculty group discussed ideas and solutions for trying to engineer more collaborations, but given the time constraints of semester deadlines, the faculty group had to make some key decisions around moving the project forward, and ensuring that the Indiana University students would have a body of work around which to base their music entrepreneurship projects. Both QUT and University of Auckland had been incorporating social justice themes internally into their respective songwriting classes between February and June 2017. This proved to be fortuitous as it allowed the project to move forward, providing a body of six songs from Auckland and twenty-four songs from QUT which were identified as potential song choices for the Indiana University Music Industry and Arts Entrepreneurship classes. All of these songs commented on social, environmental, and global issues, topics that the student songwriters believed needed promotion and further discussion, and were created in collaborative student groups.

Phase Three: Networking, Social Entrepreneurship Projects, and Marketing (August 2017-May 2018)

Activities and Courses:

* 84 students from the Indiana University Music Industry I class ranked a number of songs from Bergen, Auckland, and QUT as a peer-review exercise

* 42 students from Indiana's Arts Entrepreneurship class formed groups, selected songs, and developed social entrepreneurship projects based on the song themes

* These songs were then professionally re-recorded at QUT for inclusion in this final stage of the project

* Three groups were awarded a monetary prize to further develop their work

* One group followed through in implementing its project on raising awareness about domestic abuse and worked with Bergen students on marketing ideas

* Eight students who were enrolled in Music in the Marketplace at Bergen Community College reviewed the proposal from Indiana University and participated in an interactive session with the Indiana University student project leader and Dr. Herzig. The Bergen students completed written assignments reviewing the website and video

The last phase of the project occurred between August and December 2017. The first exercise involved two sections of the Music Industry I class at Indiana University with a total of 84 students, working in small groups, who watched and rated 24 video-recorded performances of the QUT social justice songs. From the group rankings, charts were created, and during a guided reflection exercise, students analyzed the factors that guide good songwriting as well as chance factors such as personal preference, order, and visual appearance.

Separate from this exercise, 42 students in the Indiana University Arts Entrepreneurship class formed nine groups and selected one song per group to implement in a social entrepreneurship project with the goal of initiating change and raising awareness about the issue addressed in the song. Since most songs were produced in video format only, the chosen songs needed to be professionally produced for final use. The groups used the process of design thinking and worked in collaboration with the songwriters throughout the semester towards creating a final pitch deck for their projects. In December, the Indiana students pitched their social entrepreneurship projects incorporating the song to a panel of industry professionals. The faculty group had decided that the top three groups would be awarded a monetary prize to develop their idea further. Nine projects were presented in December 2017 to two outside expert faculty, the participating faculty, and all students in the Arts Entrepreneurship class at Indiana University.

Two of the groups decided to decline their award as some of the students were graduating and the semester had ended. One group followed through in implementing a website raising awareness on domestic abuse by creating a video to the song Numb by Izzy Robb as well as resources for victims. A final Skype conference connected the Indiana group with six students from the Music in the Marketplace class at Bergen Community College for a collaborative brainstorming session on marketing suggestions for the website. The strategy compilation was shared with the entrepreneurship group. Appendix 1 offers a description of the four participating institutions, Appendix 2 contains excerpts from sample assignments, and Appendix 3 includes links to sample songs, the final project site, and project samples.


The initial phase of the project aimed to facilitate the co-creation of cross-institutional musical works by using online social networks to form collaborative teams. This approach resulted in challenges not present in inter-department and inter-faculty collaborative musical practice projects familiar to students at many tertiary institutions, a collaborative practice that includes regular face-to-face meetings as well as social media communication. Our project's students had not met before and were unfamiliar with each other's work. The collaborative process is asynchronous, and necessitates established relationships of mutual trust and clearly delineated roles for each team member to ensure productive collaborations eventuate. A high level of confidence and digital literacy is required to jointly navigate the communication and production tools necessary to negotiate the temporal and spatial barriers resultant from online and cloud-based collaboration.

Only one cross-institutional project was completed and the following barriers that contributed to this low output were identified:

1. Institutional time constraints and internal deadlines place undue pressure on the natural development of relationships based on mutual understanding and trust. As a result, students tend to turn to the familiar and form groups with their local peers in order to meet class deadlines

2. The voluntary nature of student involvement resulted in low levels of student engagement and a perceived lack of investment in the project as a whole

3. For the QUT and Bergen students, a lack of clearly defined roles and the absence of a timeline specifying a date for the completion of each task impacted the ability of the international student groups, once formed, to work together efficiently

4. Most students lacked knowledge of essential technical procedures needed to pursue successful online collaborations and as a result preferred to work locally with teacher and mentor supervision

Upon reflection, there would be considerable advantages in crossinstitutional collaborative projects incorporating Koszolko's "seven phases of user-instigated collaborative asynchronous project development" (2015) to ensure students have a clear understanding of the tasks involved in each stage of a cloud-based musical collaboration, and how different steps are undertaken as either solo processes (pre-production, initial compositional ideas, inviting collaborators) or group processes (collaboration, additional composition, and adjourning). Koszolko identifies the clear communication of a project's objectives, and goal-orientated discussion with potential collaborators as key components of asynchronous digital collaboration (2015).

While the student posts in the Facebook group communicated an initial excitement in the possibilities afforded by transnational collaboration, there was little visible communication detailing clearly defined roles or goals, or outlines of technical steps required to realize articulated team goals. This suggests further pedagogical scaffolding is required to equip students with requisite skills for cloud-based collaboration. Although time zone and seasonal differences pose numerous challenges, brief synchronous communication events using tools such as Skype may help facilitate cross-institutional camaraderie. This became evident in the final phase of the project, when students from the various institutions were able to participate in brief synchronous brainstorm meetings collecting marketing ideas for the implementation of the winning project.

Industry standard music production software has increasingly incorporated cloud-based file sharing (Gallagher 2016), and new web-based services such as facilitate work on a single digital audio workstation (DAW) project file by multiple users. Recently, online software tools developed by Soundtrap have enabled students to collaborate on music compositions synchronously and asynchronously. However, cloud-based collaborations still frequently rely on more established non-media-specific file-sharing platforms such as Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, etc. Notably, Dropbox has recently partnered with Australian record label Future Classic to open a Los Angeles-based music studio, or what they refer to as a "creative incubator." The "Future Classic x Dropbox Studio" aims to "create an ecosystem that nurtures the creative process and facilitates culture and communication," an acknowledgement that while cloud-based services provide many advantages for asynchronous collaboration, the creative process is often still best served by having people together in a room. From the outcomes of our project, this seems to be especially true for emerging industry professionals; while established practitioners and artists with pre-existing collaborative relationships can effectively leverage new technologies to realize asynchronous co-authored creative work, students in tertiary institutions require specific technical training and assessment-driven motivation to successfully realize cloud-based collaborative work.

Logistical Constraints

As might be expected, a host of logistical barriers need to be addressed and overcome when collaborating internationally across institutions. Following are examples of various organizational hurdles encountered during this project.

Very limited alignment of working hours across U.S., Australian, and New Zealand time zones made it difficult to find face-to-face meeting opportunities for faculty and students alike. For example, the only common denominator for our monthly faculty Skype meeting was at midnight U.S. Eastern Standard Time. Collaborative work during class time was not possible due to different time zones, semester dates, and varying areas of study for the students. For example, the songs by the Queensland students that were selected for the entrepreneurship projects had to be reworked as studio productions outside of the Queensland semester, where in most cases those initial song project groups had disbanded. However, despite these challenges, the Queensland songs were recorded successfully giving students the opportunity to learn about working under pressure and adhering to international deadlines.

As a result of time, schedule, and content differences, the students worked from different pressure points. For example, the Indiana University students working on the entrepreneurship projects were eager to communicate with the writers of their chosen songs in order to meet their class deadlines and move ahead with their ideas. Similarly the New Zealand songwriters received credit for being part of a group and producing a song, but eventually opted to form groups among themselves to avoid the logistical barriers and meet their class requirements; others opted to just forfeit the academic credits.

Mandatory Versus Voluntary Student Engagement

Inflexible institutional assessment processes were key issues affecting student engagement and participation due to the limitations of using existing course structures with institution-dependent assessment procedures. Also, instructors varied in requiring mandatory versus voluntary engagement. For example, the Bergen students were initially encouraged to participate voluntarily in the collaborative songwriting groups, but after a period of initial enthusiasm only one student completed the songwriting process. On the other hand, participation for the Bergen marketing class students was compulsory with nearly a 100% engagement rate. Although all the New Zealand songwriters received credit for producing a new song with students from either Bergen or Queensland, a number eventually opted to work among themselves due to ongoing communication difficulties and the overall lack of progress. The Queensland students received no credit for their international collaborations and in the end, just one student had started to work with two Auckland students. This song was not completed. To summarize, the composition and recording of only one song by an international collaborative student group led us to conclude that students need significant guidance and structure, and are heavily incentivized by expedience and the need to complete graded assignments more so than by an opportunity to meet and work with others from another country, especially when that opportunity is impaired by many logistical constraints.

The students' initial enthusiasm, founded on the opportunity for international collaboration in almost all cases, did not result in the production of realized musical outcomes. We used a private Facebook group as a forum for students to introduce themselves and present examples of their work. The private Facebook group had 76 members, with seven faculty and staff members. All student posts from the first week were positive, with eighteen initially expressing excitement around the transnational collaborative opportunities, e.g., "Woohoo super excited to be part of this can't wait to get started" (March 21, 2017) and similar comments. Despite this initial enthusiasm, and even with a class requirement for the Auckland students, only four groups were formally created and only one song was completed. One week into the project (March 20, 2017) faculty member Yanto Browning from QUT reminded his students to start working or be removed from the project groups and admits in an email to Auckland faculty four days later that the collaboration without mandatory participation and guidance didn't seem to be working. Likewise, repeated emails from Stephen Matthews to his Auckland songwriting students did not seem to overcome the inertia that developed a few weeks into the project.

Even with the mandate for international collaboration, the issues of cross-institutional scheduling often made it difficult or even impossible to follow through. We have one example of transnational co-authorship, every other piece of student work used in the project was an assessment item completed by students internally with no outside collaboration. This confirms the time and engagement issues encountered by Cajander et al. (2012) who recommended to work beyond semester and syllabus confinements of individual institutions for effective international collaborations.

Student Versus Faculty Collaboration

As it became clear that the voluntary student collaborations were not successful due to the issues listed earlier, the faculty group implemented contingency plans. Working internally in their respective songwriting classes, Auckland and QUT students produced a body of songs addressing social issues as class assignments mandated by their respective faculty. As a result, all collaborations were now mediated by faculty and the local student groups became mere content providers for the project. The following email conversation exemplifies the realignment from voluntary student collaborations to faculty-mandated projects:
Kia ora all
Here is possibly a much better plan. As it would be best to have say
8-10 songs for our project. I teach my usual 4 week songwriting module
(starting in one week) where all of my stage twos compose a Social
Commentary Song. How about I officially draw this module song into our
project - there are 14 songwriters in this group. I could form groups
of 2 and 3 - at least 5 groups resulting in 5 new songs. We would
[have] 5 finished songs - with charts and a completed basic demo by the
beginning of June. (Stephen Ralph Matthews, April 2017)

New student collaborations during Phase Two of the project were initiated between the students in the Indiana University (IU) Arts Entrepreneurship course and the existing songwriting collectives. IU student groups evaluated and chose songs from the pool of QUT and Auckland songs with the goal of creating projects that raise awareness of the issues addressed in the songs. The groups followed the process of design-thinking towards creating pitch decks by the end of the semester that demonstrated their project ideas with the incentive of possibly receiving funding for their ideas from the project grant. The groups were also asked to work with the songwriters on designing their projects and make sure they agreed with possible uses and implementations of their music.

However, with the logistical barriers explained earlier of misaligned semester times and mandatory versus voluntary requirements, this collaboration again ended up being more focused around organizing technical deliverables to meet deadlines, such as re-recording of music and the provision of lyric sheets, as opposed to a shared artistic vision that included the songwriters in the work leading up to the presentation and release of the music. This meant students had to arrange to be on campus outside of semester time to re-record songs that they had already submitted for assessment, with very little collaboration with the entrepreneurship groups.

Because of the looming deadlines and the need to frequently adapt project requirements due to collaboration hurdles and schedule changes, the students at Indiana University also expressed their frustration with the difficult process. Below are two examples from class evaluations:
The Songs to Change Our World project. It constantly
changed and was very unclear and difficult to understand
and fulfill instructions.

I think that the class didn't give me as much creative freedom as I
would have liked. Having to pick a song from a different country and
use it for a whole project is difficult especially communicating with

The final projects presented with Pitch Deck presentations by the Indiana University students were of high quality but utilized the student songs in a way that was different from that envisaged at the outset of the project. Their ideas were geared towards creating social change for the issue raised, but not necessarily using the song as the main catalyst for change. This was possibly because the Indiana students had limited opportunities to collaborate with the overseas songwriting students and so had not developed a working relationship with any of them. Project faculty collaborator Stephen Ralph Matthews observed:
Kia ora Monika
I watched all the presentations (and follow up question sessions) and
had a look again at the websites. The standard of the presentations was
consistently high. This is a really good group of well organised and
articulate students.

I was surprised by how the song did not feature in many of the ideas
- it was included and introduced but often not central to the
conceptual ideas or delivery of the project. I must admit this made
recommending two or three front runners rather challenging and made me
reflect upon the criteria for choosing. I am not sure we really defined
the criteria that well. Next time! (Stephen Ralph Matthews, December


Since completing the project we spent a number of months collectively reflecting upon the significant challenges we encountered planning and implementing a series of international cross-institutional collaborative student activities that relied upon online student led communication and teamwork. We conclude by sharing these observations and offer them as a set of possible guidelines for those considering similar cross-institutional collaborative projects.

Building Relationships of Trust Between All Participants

Opportunities to develop personal relationships in online communities are crucial for effective collaboration. Ideally face-to-face meetings via video platforms or similar tools should be arranged at the very start of the project so that all the student participants are able to meet each other and introduce themselves. The purpose of these interactions is to allow the participants to have the opportunity to communicate in an informal setting, to meet with no pressure, and build trust.

Streamlining of Online Platforms

Social and technical barriers were more prevalent because the students and faculty used a variety of online platforms and communication tools. This made it difficult for the educators to monitor and mentor the collaborative process stage by stage. Using an integrated and dedicated software platform versus relying on an assortment of software tools such as Facebook, email, SoundCloud, etc. may help to alleviate some of the cross-institutional barriers.

Longer Timeframes/Setting and Balancing Priorities

Distance collaborations need to be scheduled to allow much more time than a conventional project where participants live in the same city and study at the same institution. Institutional resources dedicated to distance collaboration, such as faculty release time and administrative staff, would grant participants greater opportunity to facilitate closer communication and collaboration. Using repertoire from existing assessments and repurposing three individual projects guaranteed an outcome but eliminated further opportunities for creative collaboration. The need for a timesensitive product shouldn't override the mission of the collaboration and the time needed to build interpersonal relationships.

Mentorship/Not Assuming Literacy

Even though most contemporary higher education students have grown up in the digital age, technical literacy of the online tools needed for effective collaboration can't be assumed. During our project we failed to teach and then effectively mentor strategies to collaborate, share files, deliver content, or navigate the needed platforms. As the collaboration unfolds, students will need the opportunity to reflect on their skills deficiencies and receive guidance and resources because they don't know what they don't know how to do.

Faculty Schedules/Institutional and Work Pressures

Faculty and staff have busy lives in their own institutions and may be offline at various times as well as experience different pressure points because of non-alignment of semester schedules across countries and institutions. A strict schedule of reflection and evaluation meetings should be established before the project commences.

Knowledge, Skills, Motivation, and Student Needs

A variety of skill sets, degree curricula, and career development trajectories among the various student groups created some barriers to understanding and learning. For example, the students in the Indiana University Entrepreneurship class did not necessarily understand the process of songwriting and music production as a number had not studied or been exposed to these disciplines. Furthermore, assessment procedures and participation enforcement is very different in U.S., Australian, and New Zealand institutions. The Indiana University Entrepreneurship students' work counted towards a major part of the final course grade and yet they frequently did not receive the timely communication they needed from the songwriters based overseas, often because they had already completed courses and/or were participating on a voluntary basis. Due to the demographics of many community college students in the U.S., collaborating with students in baccalaureate programs can be challenging but may offer opportunities for mentorship in the future.

The Challenges of Pilot Projects/Initial Case Studies

The exploratory nature of this project made it necessary to continuously adapt assignments and align the collaboration process. As a result, students became frustrated about expectations and less engaged. These difficulties could have been mitigated by clear communication about the nature of the project and goals and clearly defined student roles and responsibilities. Another helpful strategy for the initial songwriting collaborations would be to provide various examples of successful collaborations.

Overall, the initial aims and principles of our cross-institutional collaboration as listed in the project design section provided the needed guidance for a successful completion of the long-term project and the reflective process on outcomes and recommendations. Music business and entrepreneurial skills across different territories as well as intercultural communication and creative collaboration were documented in the nine entrepreneurship projects as well as Facebook communications, brainstorming sessions, and song collaborations published on SoundCloud. The final funded project raising awareness about domestic abuse is powerful in addressing a global issue through the power of music and cultural sensitivity. The detailed analysis of challenges and barriers documented throughout this case study is recommended as a planning tool for similar cross-institutional and international collaborations.

Appendix 1

Collaborating Institutions

Bergen Community College (BCC) is a publicly funded two-year post-secondary institution located in suburban New Jersey in the United States of America. It offers a variety of two-year vocational and transfer programs to any secondary school graduate. Associate degrees are offered with a focus on music performance, music business, and music technology. BCC faculty member and singer/songwriter Andy Krikun assumed leadership of the music business curriculum in 2002 and created courses in popular music studies, including songwriting and pop/rock ensemble, in 2004. "Songwriting Workshop" includes a wide diversity of students, ranging from those with no previous musical or lyric-writing experience to music majors with a range of music theory knowledge and considerable instrumental skill. The music business curriculum currently includes three specialized courses: "Introduction to the Music Business," "Music in the Marketplace," and "Concert Promotion and Production."

Indiana University with its main campus in Bloomington, Indiana is one of the top-ranked Universities in the United States and hosts more than 550 academic programs with many ranking in the world's top ten. The Bloomington campus is home to approximately 45,000 students and was founded in 1820. The Arts Administration program is part of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, founded in 1972, and the largest school of public administration and public policy in the United States, boasting an alumni network of more than 34,000. Arts Administration faculty member and jazz pianist/composer Monika Herzig created courses on the Music Industry and Arts Entrepreneurship inside the program for the more than 250 Arts Administration majors. For this project the Fall 2017 "Music Industry I" courses with a total enrollment of 78 undergraduate students, mostly Arts Administration majors and minors, and the Fall 2017 "Arts Entrepreneurship" course with 9 graduate and 34 undergraduate students for a total of 43 Arts Administration majors and minor students participated in the international collaboration.

The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is a major Australian university with a global outlook and a real-world focus. QUT offers a diverse range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and currently caters to approximately 50,000 students. QUT established the world's first Creative Industries Faculty, and invests heavily in collaborative learning and interdisciplinary research environments. The Creative Industries Faculty is a world leader in arts, media, and design teaching and research with some of the highest-demand undergraduate courses at QUT, and specialist degrees across a range of creative studies. Unique to QUT is the Bachelor of Creative Industries, which equips graduates with diverse knowledge, creativity, and professional skills across a range of industries and practice. The music program offers a variety of flexible pathways for pursuing careers within the contemporary music scene with a focus on music production, performance, and composing for media. Within the program, there is a heavy emphasis on collaborative interdisciplinary projects involving students from dance, fashion, film, games, IT, health, visual design, and entertainment.

The University of Auckland in New Zealand offers research-led programs across all the major disciplines, and has a student enrollment of over 40,000. In 2009 the School of Music introduced a new three-year BMus Popular Music degree that aimed to develop students as creative practitioners with a focus on songwriting and the performance and recording of their own music. A cohort of approximately twenty students gain entry into this BMus specialization each year after passing a songwriting and performance audition and New Zealand's national University Entrance qualification. All BMus Popular Music students take six consecutive creative practice songwriting courses, each one lasting a semester. These courses are supported by courses in music industry studies, music theory, music production, and instrumental and vocal performance. The School of Music also offers a MMus specializing in songwriting and popular music creative practice.

Appendix 2

Sample Assignment Excerpts

University of Auckland Creative Practice in Popular Music Course Assignment: Phase One

Week One: Starting Monday 20 March

* FB POST: PERSONAL INTRODUCTION: Songwriting students will go to the Songs to Change Our World Facebook page and upload a personal introduction. Start your post with the words Introduction so that other members can scroll down posts and find just the introductions. Include things such as a personal intro to your music, your interests, some background to who you are, links to your music and online videos, etc. Songwriting students will also describe in their FB page Introduction the type of social or environmental issues they are interested in writing/composing about.

Week Two: Starting Monday 27 March

* Students will form groups and begin exchanging ideas--for example, links to news and online articles, lyrics and music.

* FB POST: WHO'S IN EACH GROUP AND A NAME: Student songwriting groups will all post this week on the project FB page the names of the people in their collaborative group. Choose a name for your group.

* Student songwriting groups will decide what platform they will use to share and collaborate with the others in their group (for example, Google Groups, a Facebook Group, Skype, email).

* Student songwriting groups will begin composing the song based on a theme of global importance--a theme in response to a social or environmental issue they think has wider significance.

Sample Assignment Instructions for Part 2 of the Project to Indiana University Arts Entrepreneurship Class

Prototype and Peer Review

Meet as a group--videotape your meeting--from your list of 100 ideas have everyone identify a list of five favorites on five sticky notes and present them to the group. As a group discuss the options and focus on one. Assign a possible place to each group member where they can observe actions related to the cause and the music--make sure each one has a different assignment and cause and song are covered. For example, if you want to look at the issue of drug use and you chose a song about the cause assign someone to observe (from a safe spot) one of the gathering places of drug users in Bloomington (e.g., next to the downtown post office) and use the Observation Worksheet in Neck, p. 162 to record the AEIOU Framework. Another group member can gather a group of people for a listening session to the song and record observations, consider asking questions to the listeners to help you complete the AEIOU framework to capture reactions to the song. Another group member can conduct interviews (use the good questions technique on p. 165) on the issue. Submit a description of the idea and the proposed observation action by each group member for peer review as a word document BY OCTOBER 4!

At the October 11 meeting share your proposals with the International Faculty via Skype and review the peer review comments. Finalize your observation plans and conduct the initial observations.

Meet a second time and collect all your observations, discuss as a group (videotape), and create a list of insights. Formulate a hypothesis on how to implement the song to change the issue, if appropriate create a prototype.

By October 30 submit your interview/AEIOU worksheets and a summary document that includes:

1. What is the final plan of action/ prototype that you will implement using one of the songs to change our world?

2. How was this final plan shaped by the observations from each group member's observation experiment?

3. How was the peer review and faculty feedback implemented?

4. Share your learning experiences/reflection throughout the prototyping process.

Appendix 3

SoundCloud Playlist of Collaborative

Songs from Phase 1

Final Project Site: Aware DV

Project Samples


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MONIKA HERZIG holds a Doctorate in Music Education with minor fields in Jazz Studies from Indiana University where she is a Senior Lecturer in Arts Administration. She teaches courses on the Music Industry, Programming, and Arts Entrepreneurship. Her research focus is on jazz as a model for creativity and entrepreneurship with recent publication of her grant-supported project "The Jazz Jam Session Model for Group Creativity and Entrepreneurship" in the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Assoiation Journal (MEIEA). She is also the author of David Baker --A Legacy in Music, published in 2011 by IU Press and Experiencing Chick Corea with Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. As a touring jazz artist, she has performed at many prestigious jazz clubs and festivals, such as New York's Birdland and Zinc Bar, Manchester Craftsmen Guild, Jazz Kitchen, and Nighttown, to name just a few. Groups under her leadership have toured Germany, opened for acts such as Tower of Power, Sting, the Dixie Dregs, Yes, and more.

She has released more than a dozen CDs under her leadership on her own ACME Records as well as Owl Studios and Whaling City Sound. Her awards include a 1994 Down Beat Magazine Award for Best Original Song, a Jazz Journalist Association Hero 2015 award, as well as grants from the NEA, the Indiana Arts Commission, MEIEA, among others. Her newest project "SHEROES" (Whaling City Sound) features the world's leading female jazz instrumentalists including Leni Stern, Jamie Baum, Jennifer Vincent, Rosa Avila, Mayra Casales, Reut Regev, Ada Rovatti, and Ingrid Jensen and was recently featured on NPR's Here and Now as well with a four-star review in DownBeat magazine. Thomas Garner from writes, "I was totally awed by the fine musicianship throughout." More information and sound samples are available at

KRISTINA KELMAN is an academic, teacher, community music facilitator and jazz musician. Her research interests include the education of the aspiring musician. She holds a Ph.D. titled "From music student to industry professional: An entrepreneurial learning design," producing an experiential music curriculum model for studentrun enterprise. Dr. Kelman's work also takes place in community music settings, most recently she collaborated with Australian ARIA award winner, David Bridie and First Languages Australia on a language project through original song, Yamani: Voices of an Ancient Land. This resulted in a full length album, Australian curriculum materials, and a documentary featured throughout 2016 on QANTAS in-flight entertainment.

Since 2015, with three years of successful grant funding, Kristina has coordinated an intensive recording program and music education project in Chennai, India, which produces an album of original music by emerging independent artists each year, distributed and promoted internationally. Kelman is also a Brisbane based musician, who has had a successful twenty year career performing and recording as a jazz singer, and working as both a music director and conductor for various Australian projects. She currently lectures at the Queensland University of Technology.

ANDREW KRIKUN is Professor of Music at Bergen Community College where he teaches courses in songwriting, world music, popular music, and music business. He holds a M.A. in Ethnomusicology from University of California, Los Angeles and a Ph.D. in Music Education from New York University. His research and scholarship have appeared in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters, and he has presented his work at international conferences in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and China. In 2006 he was awarded a NISOD Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas. He is an executive board member of the Association of Popular Music Education. As a singer-songwriter, Krikun has maintained an active career as a performer, composer, and recording artist. His band, Andy and the Rattlesnakes, was a seminal force in the L.A. Punk/New Wave scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A compilation CD of the band's recordings, Last Summer to Dance, was released in 2006 and the band is currently working on a new album set to be released in 2019. He has written music for theatre and film, including the 1996 comedy The Shot, and continues to write, perform, and record for eclectic musical projects.

STEPHEN RALPH MATTHEWS was born in Heretaunga, Aotearoa New Zealand. He works in Auckland as a composer, lecturer, multi-media artist, and performer. Since 2007 he has led the development of the undergraduate and postgraduate songwriting degrees at the University of Auckland's School of Music. Matthew's academic work examines songwriting pedagogy, international collaboration, and social justice and environmental issues. His chapter on collaborative composition projects with indigenous communities, "Being Heard: A Maori Community Narrative," appears in Intersecting Cultures in Music and Dance Education published by Springer International Publishing.

Matthews' creative work embraces instrumental and electroacoustic music, song, text, and moving image as well as the intrinsic values and worldview of the people and communities he collaborates with. His work references image and sound drawn from the land, river, and sea, and incorporate text in te reo M[bar.a]ori, m[bar.o]teatea (traditional M[bar.a]ori song) and taonga puoro (traditional M[bar.a]ori instruments). Examples include the semi-staged orchestral work Witnessing Parihaka.

This work was written and performed with the people of Parihaka, a Maori community situated in Taranaki, Aotearoa New Zealand. The piece portrays the political passive resistance of the leaders and people of Parihaka in the late nineteenth century.

YANTO BROWNING is a Brisbane-based academic, record producer, and musician, with a strong background in technology in music performance and production. With twenty years of studio experience, Browning has produced several hundred records for a broad range of Australian bands and artists, and has also worked as a composer and producer of music for film and contemporary dance. Yanto has researched, developed, designed, and produced several interactive musical spaces, investigating gestural control of electronic instruments and concepts of play, centered around the creation of active musical spaces that incorporate audience participation. This work has included performances and installations at events such as the 2017 Ars Electronica festival. As an educator, Browning has coordinated the music production program at the Queensland University of Technology for the past several years, while continuing his research and personal practice around technology in music. He is currently a lecturer in music and a Ph.D. candidate at the Queensland University of Technology.

Monika Herzig

Indiana University, United States

Kristina Kelman

Queensland University of Technology, Australia

Andrew Krikun

Bergen Community College, United States

Stephen Ralph Matthews

University of Auckland, New Zealand

Yanto Browning

Queensland University of Technology, Australia

This research was funded in part by a research grant from the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association.
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Author:Herzig, Monika; Kelman, Kristina; Krikun, Andrew; Matthews, Stephen Ralph; Browning, Yanto
Publication:MEIEA Journal
Article Type:Case study
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Jan 1, 2018
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