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Author Interview: Daniel Walzer

Posted on: October 7, 2020

What inspired you to bring together the volume that is Audio Education?

A few years ago I was approached by an Editor at Focal Press about writing a book for the Music Technology and Audio Engineering series. After thinking about it, and researching current texts on the market, I started to wonder why there were so few resources that focused on the myriad factors affecting the teaching and learning of audio-related topics in sundry ways. Noting the gradual increase in such programs in higher education, I thought about assembling a group of perspectives from different writers, rather than just one. I also thought about people that I might want to work with and Mariana immediately came to mind. Her work on Audio Description fascinated me and I admired her commitment to inclusion and equality in audio engineering. I was delighted when she agreed to co-edit the project.

Who should read Audio Education? What do you hope readers take from the collection?

I would encourage faculty, staff and graduate students working in audio and music technology-related programs to read this book. Though the compendium is not a "how-to" on pedagogical matters, there are 16 chapters that address audio education issues from Brazil, the UK, Europe, the United States, and Australia. One hopes that the combination of perspectives offers a broad perspective of shared ideas and ways to move the field forward. As this is the first book of its kind, I hope that stakeholders will find the topics relevant to their research and creative interests.

The book touches on a lot of important topics, but were there any unifying themes that you found in many chapters? If so, what were they?

As we noted in the Introduction, trying to define the terms "audio" and "education" is a lofty goal. We asked the contributors to think about what audio education means to them, and write openly about that in their chapters. In my estimation, the common thread in this book is that audio education is not solely rooted in a technocratic framework. In other words, there are deeper implications for teaching and learning subjects across grade levels. Expanding inclusion, blending theory and practice, addressing policy issues, and social justice, are all major themes in the text. The volume brings together historical perspectives on audio engineering and looks to the future of audio education research with climate change and global warming.

What do you think the future looks like for Audio education?

My hope is that audio education  embraces a more holistic, integrated, and inclusive pedagogical model in the coming years. Balancing the "teaching of technology" with more inclusive language is an important start. Likewise, my hope is to see a more concerted effort by institutions and professional organizations to recruit and highlight voices from a broader array of voices in the audio engineering and music technology sectors. Audio engineering and music technology fields need to address issues of misogyny, ableism, racism, and classicism. This is critically important as the number of degree offerings continues to grow over the next decade. As a community of audio educators, we must find ways to make the field safer and more inclusive and provide professional development opportunities for stakeholders to address these kinds of topics.    

What was your favourite part of the editing process?

For me, the best part of the editing process was getting to know the terrific work of our contributors, and to guide the entire project from start to finish. Editing is a privilege and I took to heart the responsibility of providing supportive and critical feedback on each draft. I viewed the project as collaborative and cooperative and wanted the authors to have a positive experience working with us. Working with Mariana was also a joy. Her chapter on game-based learning is fascinating and I learned a great deal from her throughout the project. I think our editing styles complimented each other and I look forward to future collaborations with her and our authors.