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Scott Edgar releases new book featuring student and alumna co-authors

scott edgar with his book
February 21, 2024
Meghan O'Toole

Associate Professor of Music and Chair of Music Scott Edgar recently released a book on the topic of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in music education, Portraits of Social Emotional Learning in Music Teacher Education, co-edited with Kathleen Melago.

SEL focuses on equipping students with skills that help them succeed beyond the classroom, which in turn helps them find greater academic success.

“When students are more resilient, empathetic, and appreciative of diversity, their music improves. Everything improves,” Edgar explained.

Lake Forest College student Kathia Torres ’24 and alumna Jamie Pineda ’20 contributed to the book, which features the perspectives of music education professors and undergraduate students in programs that intentionally embed SEL practices into the curriculum.

Edgar explained that while SEL has been around for over 25 years, the approach truly took off during the COVID-19 lockdowns: “During the pandemic, teachers realized that emotions are essential in learning. Oftentimes, students are not receptive to academic knowledge due to challenges going on in their lives.”

This is Edgar’s sixth book on SEL and music education. This volume offers a closer look at music teaching programs in higher education that are intentionally embedding SEL in order to produce music teachers who can help students build life skills.

Pineda, Orchestra Director for Zion Elementary School District 6 in Zion, Illinois, teaches students from fourth grade through eighth grade and embeds SEL practices into her daily instruction.

“I firmly believe that in incorporating SEL, I am fostering a positive learning environment for everyone. Working on the book just reaffirmed my SEL beliefs even more,” Pineda said.

Edgar’s interest in SEL stems both from his upbringing and his experience as a school band director. Edgar was raised by parents who were social workers; they stressed the importance of mental health in order to support academic development.

“I was a middle school and high school band director for ten years, and many students came to me for help beyond music. They wanted me to be a mentor and confidant, and I wasn’t always comfortable wearing those hats since I was a trained music director,” he said. “I realized we could build life skills intentionally in our music class, and I had a brilliant psych professor who introduced me to SEL. For the past 15 years, SEL has been my journey. It has been such a rewarding space to see teachers and students advance both musically and from an SEL perspective.”

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