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Music: Basics!: Information Fluency

Start here if you are just learning how to do music research at Butler.

Info Literacy / Fluency Definitions

Definitions:

Information literacy:  The American Library Association defines “information literacy” as a set of abilities requiring individuals to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively (and ethically!) the needed (i.e., relevant) information.

 

Information fluency:  The Milner Library of Illinois State University defines this as “the ability to crticially think while engaging with, creating, and utilizing information and technology regardless of format or platform.  Specifically, an information fluent individual is able to:

 

  1. Recognize the need for information;
  2. Formulate a plan to obtain the information including appropriate technologies to be used;
  3. Discover, identify, and retrieve information from multiple venues and in multiple formats;
  4. Evaluate and select relevant and credible information;
  5. Synthesize obtained information or create new information using various technologies; and
  6. Present or publish an information product to an audience using an appropriate platform.”

 

ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) Framework for Information Literacy:  the above statement parallels the six points of the ACRL framework, which can be summarized as:

 

 •Authority Is Constructed and Contextual

“Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required.”

Information Creation as a Process

“Information in any format is produced to convey a message and is shared via a selected delivery method. The iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information vary, and the resulting product reflects these differences.”

Information Has Value

“Information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination.”

Research as Inquiry

“Research is iterative (i.e., it involves repetition) and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field.”

Scholarship as Conversation

“Communities of scholars, researchers, or professionals engage in sustained discourse with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of varied perspectives and interpretations.”

Searching as Strategic Exploration

“Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops.”

 

 

Information Fluency @ Butler's Jordan College of the Arts

How does the faculty in the relevant department(s) define “information fluency” for majors studying the performing and visual arts?

Since 2000, the librarian subject liaisons of Butler University Libraries in partnership with the teaching faculty of their assigned liaison areas have used the guidelines (and more recently, the framework) set forth by the American Library Association’s Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)  as their model for shaping information literacy/fluency instruction. Essentially, the library liaisons, Center for Academic Technology staff, and discipline faculty collaboratively seek to train Butler students to be information fluent as defined by the following skill sets:

  1. Students should be able to identify and/or recognize relevant resources for their specific disciplines, realize the nature and extent of their information need(s), and choose appropriately among various available resources.
  2. Students should be able to understand and distinguish among different types of information sources and/or information formats (e.g., books, journal articles commercial databases, web sites, blogs, etc.) and the audiences to which they are directed (i.e., popular, trade or profession, scholarly) and be able to identify and select credible sources
  3. Students should be able to access and use information ethically and legally (i.e., understand what constitutes plagiarism, cite sources correctly, and understand the implications of copyright).
  4. Students should understand that research (often) depends upon continually revising or modifying one’s line of inquiry thus creating new or more complex questions, the answers to which produce additional questions or lines of inquiry.
  5. Students should understand that scholarship involves a sustained discourse or conversation among a community of scholars and/or professionals presenting diverse points of view which over time, produces new perspectives, insights, ideas, and interpretations.
  6. Students should be able to use information gained from failed search strategies to re-think and revise their searches or even to re-focus, narrow, or broaden their search topics.

We feel skills described in numbers 2-6 can be presented in much the same way across the disciplines; in other words, we view them as transferrable skills.  Certainly, it is especially important for students of the arts to develop an understanding the implications and extent of copyright as it pertains to artistic creation. 

It is in the area of identifying relevant sources for the arts disciplines and choosing appropriately among various available sources that instruction needs and foci will diverge in the arts.  For example, musicians will need to develop familiarity and knowledge of musical terms in foreign languages and become familiar with different types of musical scores and editions and the appropriate use of each.  They also will be concerned with identifying and locating scores and recordings, sources to help place compositions in historical periods and performance practices, and methods (i.e. pedagogy) books.  Dancers will be more concerned with locating appropriate music for creating choreography and audio-visual representations of dances that they may be studying or performing.  Visual artists may be more concerned with locating reproductions of works of art and resources that will illustrate various styles and mediums of art.  Students of theatre will need to know how to locate plays and scenes and learn about appropriate costuming, props, and set design for various historical periods.

However, while applied and performing artists use information in ways that differ somewhat from each other and certainly from those studying non-arts disciplines, the information needs of students of art, dance music, and theatre are also similar in several respects.  The Jordan College of the Arts (JCA) faculty and Performing & Fine Arts Librarian believe all students of the arts must be able to understand how to locate for their respective disciplines:

  • information about artists and/or performers in their field of study (painters, sculptors, dancers, choreographers, set designers, costumers, musicians, actors, directors, etc.),
  • artistic creations (i.e., works) and/or reproductions of those works (paintings, sculptures, architecture, ballets, musical compositions, plays, etc.),
  • reviews of works and performances, past and present,
  • critical analyses and/or interpretations of artistic works,
  • information about various artistic creations/works, including resources that provide historical (including cultural, sociological, and political) context for artists and artistic works, and
  • audio and visual representations/reproductions of artistic works.

The JCA faculty and their liaison librarian believe that students of the fine and performing arts need to develop these information fluency skills not only to inform their own artistry but also to equip them to assess (and to teach) quality in the artistic performance and creation of works in their particular discipline.

Thinking critically about performances ...

Tone quality – timbre; the character of musical tones with reference to their richness or perfection.

Technique – mastery of the technical skills required to play an instrument or particular technical requirements of a musical selections well.

Musicianship – often defined as “skill as a musician” or “skill or artistry in performing music;” in this case, we’ll look at ability to play correct notes, rhythms, dynamics, etc.

Musicality – musical talent or sensitivity.

Interpretation -- interpreting the intent of the composer and implementing one's own ideas about how a piece should sound.

C.R.A.A.P. Test

CRAAP Test:  to aid in thinking critically about information, consider the following:

  • Currency – how up-to-date is the information?
  • Relevance – how relevant is the information to what you are researching or talking about?
  • Authority – where did the information come from?  Who provided it and what are that person’s credentials?
  • Accuracy – where does it come from?  Is it supported by evidence?  Has it been refereed/reviewed?  Can it be verified by another source?  Is the language free from emotion/apparent bias?  Is spelling, grammar, language correct?
  • Point of view/Perspective (i.e., bias) – does the information provider have an agenda? Bias? Particular goal?

Assignment #1

Assume you want to introduce your music student colleagues to YOUR instrument.  To do this, you want to select two pieces of music written for your instrument that you feel demonstrate the instrument to its best advantage.  Choose one selection from the baroque, classical, or romantic period and one from the 20th or 21st Century.  Describe WHY you chose the piece, why you feel it provides an excellent showcase for YOUR instrument.  Consider the range and tessitura of the selection, the technique necessary to play it effectively, the emotion/feeling it conveys.

Assignment #2

Choose two “great” performers of your instrument:  one born before 1960 and one born after 1960.  Be prepared to justify WHY you have chosen these particular performers:  tone, technique, interpretation, etc.  Do you feel these performers are better suited to playing music from certain periods or are they equally good with all repertoire?  Why?  You can ask your teacher for recommendations or look for lists of great performers on the Internet – but BE CAREFUL of those!, you can also see who has won Grammy Awards and/or particular competitions or who has played for or with prestigious ensembles, who’s recently been featured in Gramophone magazine, etc.  You can find recordings via the Naxos Music Library database OR you can locate CDs or vinyl recordings in the Irwin Library.  You may also check the Amazon or ArkivMusic websites to look up recordings and hear sample playing.  Singers may want to listen and view opera excerpts from the Met Opera on Demand database.

CONTACT

Email Butler University Libraries
Irwin Library: 317-940-9227
Science Library: 317-940-9937
CAT: 317-940-8575

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