Hélène Boucher, PhD

Doctor of Music Education


Philosophical Approach

Philosophy as an Ontological Ethics- Løgstrup/Wheeler1

For Logstrup we are subject to an ethical requirement when we meet other people and this demand forces us to take care of the part of their life that has been placed in our hands. In other words, we are intimately connected with one another and this bond creates an ethical demand. Education involves asymmetric relationships: one person being more or less in the power of another person, this requires that we be vigilant when trying to meet the individual demands of our students.

An essential element of this ethical requirement is trust: "To associate or personally meet another person always means being at the mercy of his words or his conduct." This requires that trust is not abused.

Ethical demand involves a challenge, it demands love, although it is sometimes difficult to love all our students.

The binding element is mediation. This is what acts as an intermediary between humans engaged in a certain type of relationship: in our context, music is the mediator. The natural gap between people can be filled in different ways: "we must be united in a common endeavor, a common interest".

The ethical demand is radical for several reasons:
1. it is not spoken
2. it can be satisfied with a very significant or very insignificant act or word
3. we must respond to the request, even if we deal with people that we cannot love or whose presence we cannot appreciate.


Adapting this vision for music education:

Trust: As teachers, we hold a part of each student's life in our hands. Our intention must be to take care of the part of each life placed in our hands.
An excellent curriculum is an excellent teacher who interacts with students in a pedagogical way.
We should allow our students to explore how a particular knowledge, competency or social interaction, modifies them as a person--how they affect their individual world. This concept is at the heart of good teaching.

Challenge: It is a difficult task to teach every day to large groups of students and to accept that everyone must be recognized and their individual requirements met. Love is demanded by students. If a music teacher likes music, but does not like the students to whom he/she teaches, then the learning environment is not all it could be. If the music teacher is more concerned by his/her own glory, or own aesthetic satisfaction, it is insufficient. The challenge is also to love all students, even those who are not easy to like.

Mediation: Music is our "common interest" which mediates relationships. Education is not a business and students are not customers. "The art of teaching" requires love more than responsibility and music can provide energy in the recognition of our human ties.


"I teach people, not music…"


1. Wheeler, T. R. (2006). Toward a Framework for a New Philosophy of Music Education: Løgstrup as Synergy Between the Platonic and Aristotelian Perspectives in the Music Education Philosophies of Bennett Reimer and David Elliott (Doctoral dissertation, University of North Texas).


Pedagogial Approach

Active Teaching and Learning

1. What I hear, I forget.
2. What I hear and see, I remember a little.
3. What I hear, see, and ask questions about or discuss with someone else, I begin to understand.
4. What I hear, see, discuss, and do, I acquire knowledge and skill.
5. What I teach to another, I master.

Gartner, A. (1998). Mutual tutoring: Embedding and extending peer-assisted learning. In K. Topping & S. Ehly (Eds.), Peer-Assisted Learning, 281-289. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.


Courses Taught

Music Department
Arts Faculty, Université du Québec à Montréal (Montréal, Québec)

Undergraduate Courses:


Didactics of music: preschool and 1st cycle of elementary school
Experimentation and analysis of teaching strategies developed within the framework of cooperative education, project pedagogy and other approaches relating to the creation, performance and appreciation of music. Study of educational resources, including multimedia, intended for this primary cycle. By taking into account the stages of development of the child and the process of sensorimotor acquisitions, the educational approach will promote the development, through singing, of the sound image intended to instrumentalise the body through movement.

Fundamentals of music pedagogy
The students will develop in this course an understanding of the philosophies underlying the role of music in preschool, elementary and secondary education. Comparative study of schools of thought implemented in active pedagogies, in creative and aesthetic pedagogies. Study of the principles governing the new training programs of the Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sport of Quebec: training by competencies, the transition from teaching strategies (teacher's point of view) to learning strategies (student's point of view). At the end of the course, the student will be able to form an opinion with regard to sometimes divergent conceptions of musical pedagogy, to build his model of educator and to develop the skills necessary for the management of a class of music.

Music Teaching Internship in Elementary School
During this internship, the student-teacher is led to develop professional autonomy and acquire an adequate mastery of the skills inherent to teaching. He/she prepares lesson plans, chooses teaching approaches, applies disciplinary, didactic and pedagogical knowledge and evaluates his educational practice by reflexive analysis. Beforehand, the student-teacher observes pedagogical situations in music in a primary school and, thereafter, he/she takes charge of a music class in this level of education. Supervision meetings are planned at the university with the supervisor; an associate teacher guides the student-teacher in his/her training in teaching music in a school environment. This internship lasts 21 days. It also includes a university preparation and report writing period estimated at 25 hours.

Professional Integration Internship: Teaching Music in Pre- and Elementary School
In this last internship in elementary school, the student-teacher joins a school team. He/she takes full charge of a music class for a long period of time and performs all teaching tasks. Beforehand, he/she elaborates the training project in the teaching of music with a view to developing professional autonomy and acquiring a constant mastery of the skills inherent in teaching. In this perspective, he/she can also undertake a musical project that meets the needs of students such as making them realize a musical creation, developing with them specific musical skills, participating in the performance of a school musical event. (musical, concert, choral rally, school harmony competition) or others. Finally, the student/teacher writes a substantial internship report which presents the critical assessment of the educational practice by a reflexive analysis in order to recognize his/her strengths and weaknesses, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, in order to orient his/her continuing education.

Graduate Courses:

The didactic transposition and the teaching of music in preschool, primary and secondary.
The purpose of this course is to bring the student to appropriate the notions and didactic approaches specific to the planning of teaching and evaluation in music lessons at preschool, primary and secondary level. In this perspective, the student will be led to mobilize the knowledge and know-how inherent in the didactic transposition of musical notions and in the design of teaching-learning situations relating to the three disciplinary skills.

Seminar and Supervised Practice 1: Reflection and Analysis of the Practice of Teaching from a Systemic Perspective.
Supervised practice 1 aims to deepen the music teaching practice of the teacher in training and to engage him/her in a professional development process. To do this, they will have to initiate themselves into an action research process: observe their practice, analyze and solve problems specific to their teaching. In a global approach, it will mobilize theoretical and practical knowledge related to the different components of the school system and their interrelations in the pedagogical situation. It will take into account the context, particularly with regard to the multi-ethnic aspect.


Department of Integrated Studies in Education
Education Faculty, McGill University (Montréal, Québec)

Undergraduate Courses:

Music Curriculum and Instruction for Generalists
Study of materials and instructional techniques grounded in an understanding of basic musical concepts and contemporary theories of music teaching and learning. Definition of musical objectives and rationales, selection and development of materials, review of QME guidelines. Participation through singing, movement, listening, discussion and lesson planning
and implementation.

Music Methods I
Preparation for Third Field Experience. Includes the study of music curriculum content and instructional approaches,
classroom management issues, lesson planning and program development for elementary and secondary schools.
Relevant professional competencies will be addressed, developed and assessed.

Music Methods II
Preparation for Fourth Field Experience. Follow-up of the topics introduced in Music Methods I.


Department of Music Education
Schulich School of Music, McGill University (Montréal, Québec)

Undergraduate Courses:

Music for Children
Using child-centered approaches such as Orff, Kodaly and Dalcroze, students will explore techniques and philosophies for cultivating musical understanding in children aged 6-12. Research related to musical development and the fostering of creativity will also be investigated. A field experience and curriculum organization component is included.

Music in Early Childhood
Organized as a laboratory, this course will explore the musical growth and development of children from birth to age six, with topics including heredity and environment, music skills and concept development, affective development, creativity, and musical activities.

Psychology of Music
The objectives of this course are to: 1. Explore various aspects of the psychology of music, including music and the brain, musical development in childhood, talent, perception of music, performance, practice, motivation, evaluation, teaching, performance anxiety, music therapy and music in the industry. 2. Make connections between research in music psychology and musical interpretation, composition, analysis and education. 3. Familiarize students with various research methodologies. 4. Understand and summarize research articles and develop a critical look at research results.

Music as a Profession
This course provides music students with information relevant to leading successful careers in the field of music. Over the course of the semester, numerous topics relating to this area will be presented and examined, including musicians' physical and mental health, practice techniques, entrepreneurship, and career development.


Graduate Courses:

Doctoral Research Colloquium
The Doctoral Colloquium is a weekly lecture series organized by the Department of Music Research at McGill University.
The main objectives of the colloquium are:
1- To provide Ph.D. students with a supportive and stimulating environment to present their research and meet their PhD peers across disciplines in music;
2- To offer unique opportunities to engage with research presented by guest lecturers and McGill faculty members;
3- To encourage students to attend a variety of professional development workshops that serve as a forum in which students can seek advice on professional issues.


Music Faculty
Université Laval (Québec, Québec)

Undergradate Course

Philosophy of Music Education
PhD Various points of view on art: referentialism, expressionism, formalism. A fundamental philosophical conception of art in general (art and feeling, aesthetic meaning, aesthetic experience) and music especially (musical meaning, musical experience). The application of basic philosophical concepts to musical education as defined by aestheticism and praxialism.

Educational Psychology in Music
In this course, we are interested first of all in knowing how we learn music. We will examine the components of the processing of musical information and the ways in which humans appropriate music. We will then study the following question: what currents and pedagogical approaches should be favored in music education? In this context, we will explore various dimensions related to teaching and learning music in elementary and high school. Finally, we will determine how to interact with students with learning difficulties. Possible solutions to the main challenges in terms of behavior will also be suggested.
At the end of the course, students are expected to be able to:
1. identify and differentiate the main components of the processing of music information;
2. to describe and explain the stages of musical development from early childhood to adolescence;
3. to distinguish current pedagogical approaches and method and to understand and analyze the processes involved in learning in music education;
4. choose relevant teaching strategies (used by the teacher) in music education;
5. to propose relevant learning strategies (used by the student) in music education;
6. to solve the main challenges in behavior and adjustment disorders in music education.


Graduate Courses:

Psychological Foundations of Music Education
The course aims to study different psychological foundations of music education in relation to the learning, teaching and performance of music in school or private contexts. The topics covered are: Music, brain and learning, musical development, musical skills and abilities, listening and musical perception, interpretation and expression, learning, practice and motivation, evaluation, teacher and teaching, performance anxiety, music therapy and the impact of music in our lives. The course also aims to train the student to summarize scientific studies, to study the research protocols used to carry out scientific studies in the field concerned, to know more deeply the results of research related to this field, to develop its meaning and to communicate to an audience of researchers, that is to say various professional skills that the student researcher must develop during his scientific training.

Seminar: Early Childhood and Music
Two main aspects are explored: musical awakening in groups, and the introduction of musical instrument through individual teaching. Some themes covered: different pedagogical approaches; techniques and strategies to teach music to young children; the musical development of young children; the global development of young children; musical preferences of young children; extra-musical gains (mathematics, reading, concentration); the role of the parents.