Composing Possibilities: Open Education Resources and K-12 Music Education

January 1st, 2013
Publication Author: 
ISKME staff
Resource Type: 

While the present-day music OER landscape is yet emerging, this study revealed several end-user markets. In particular, the study found that for music specialists and classroom teachers, OER can serve as an attractive solution to meeting curriculum challenges—especially for educators in under-resourced schools. Teaching artists, faced with increasing expectations that accompany their role, and a possible lack of formal training in education, also constitute a key group of potential end-users for music OER. For teaching artists who are seeking curriculum materials or pedagogical solutions to meet their classroom needs, as well as those who may wish to document, contribute and share their expertise and teaching practices with their peers, OER have the potential to address currently unmet needs.


Finally, the study revealed the potential of music OER to support end-users as co-creators and innovators in the content creation process (although, as mentioned, few of the sites and collections reviewed have, to date, fully realized that potential). Producers of content can support these and other use possibilities by offering content that is modular, digestible and engaging, and that is adaptable to end-user needs, including support for multiple styles of learning. The findings further underscored the importance of providing teachers with access to material that is aligned to state and national music standards, to the Common Core State Standards, and to information about how other teachers had adapted and implemented the material before them. In terms of content creation, it was found that public domain resources or other workarounds could be used to create engaging material that supports the inclusion of performances and recordings, and licensing approaches or technology solutions could be used that enable clarity around terms of use for users.


Overall, it was found that—while music OER have the potential to engage students in new ways of knowing and learning, and to make music education accessible to student populations that have previously lacked access—incorporating open educational resources into music teaching involves exploration into creative solutions and policies to address some of the challenges and barriers to use. The following paper further outlines these challenges and solutions, in light of both the existing music OER landscape and the potential for music OER, moving forward.