Online Music Education

A case for researching online music education

Arguing that not all public music education projects equate with continued progress, Weiss (Colwell, 2006) provides historical examples taken from the initial beginnings of public arts education in 19th-century Australian schools. As we appropriately bring forward the knowledge and understanding from the historical background music education into 21st century music education, music education can connect students with past, present and future artistic elements. To this extent, it will be important to consider music education research that “will illuminate our understanding of music education’s function in fostering a sense of identities that have to be constantly invented, transformed, and recovered.  The result of such investigation should serve to encourage music educators to question aspects of their own music education tradition that they may take for granted” (Colwell, 2006, p. 79-80).

Combinging the knowledge of online learning with music education we can begin to see the various connections necessary for online music education to become a viable option. As we consider Salavuo’s (2000) suggestion that musicians use online music communities for furthering musical pursuits as well as social participation  and the Mayer, Heiser and Lonn’s (2000) research that the included multimedia is on topic to purpose higher-level learning, a framework for online music education can begin to be established and composed.

Furthermore, questions posed in the book chapter on Music Learning and New Media in Virtual and Online Environments (Ruthman & Hebert, 2012) bring focus to the need of research in online music education:

What kinds of musical learning can be effectively facilitated in online and virtual environments, and what kinds of musical activities are best suited to traditional face-to-face instruction? What reliable evidence serves as the basis for your answers to this question? (p. 580).



Colwell, R. (Ed.). (2006). MENC Handbook of research methodologies. New York: Oxford University Press.

Mayer, R. E., Heiser, J., & Lonn, S. (2001). Cognitive constraints on multimedia learning: When presenting more material results in less understanding. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(1), 187–198. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.93.1.187

Ruthmann, S. A., & Hebert, D. G. (2012). Music Learning and New Media in Virtual and Online Environments. In G. McPherson & G. Welch (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Music Education (Vol. 2, pp. 567–583). Oxford University Press. Retrieved from

Salavuo, M. (2006). Open and informal online communities as forums of collaborative musical activities and learning. British Journal of Music Education 23, 253-271.


Further Resources to Consider

Bond, A. (2002). Learning music online: An accessible program for isolated students. Kensington Park, SA: Australian National Training Authority. Retrieved  from

Hebert, D. G. (2009a). On virtuality and music education in online environments. Parlando, 48(4). Retrieved from

Ruthmann, A. (2007). Strategies for supporting music learning through online collaborative technologies. In J. Finney & P. Burnard (Eds.), Music education with digital technology (pp. 131-41). London: Continuum.

U.S. Department of Education. (2009). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. Retrieved from

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