Volume 49 (2)
Summer/été 2023

A Framework for Teaching Music Online. By Carol Johnson. Bloomsbury Academic. 199 Pages. ISBN HB: 978-1-3502-0186-6; ePDF: 978-1-3502-0185-9; eBook: 978-1-3502-0187-3

Reviewed by Sandra Duggleby, University of Calgary


In A Framework for Teaching Music Online, Carol Johnson formulates a clear and precise framework for teaching music online that is supported by 17 peer-reviewed articles she has authored on this topic. Well-known for her scholarship, Johnson’s framework is designed to guide online teachers of music through a well-reasoned and logical step-by-step process using clear communication, authentic design, and quality assessment. The three-part process explores her framework starting with design and assessment of case studies. She then focuses on practical application of designing an online teaching space using technology tools and approaches as supporting learning mechanisms. In the final section of the framework, Johnson capitalizes on future innovations that delve into sharing knowledge and creating professional learning networks. The framework masterfully allows for discipline specificity in an arts-based discipline with niche areas such as music performance, theory, history, and composition. Johnson ensures that authentic supports are in place for all.

The Framework

There are three major components making up the framework, i.e., design, assessment, and communication. In Part I, Exploring the Framework, Johnson discusses the scaffolding approach, and supports it with figures for each step. She begins by focusing on communication, and elaborates on the importance of clarity of learning outcomes, timing, presence and community, and technology tools. Johnson brilliantly incorporates and supports Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in her framework so that instructors can ensure all diverse learners achieve success. Johnson (2022) confirms, “Through this simplistic description of complex design of strategic networks, recognition networks, and effective networks, UDL offers learners multiple ways to access online learning” (p. 70).

Designing lessons for student-centered learning is clearly articulated. Johnson ensures each process is supported with charts and figures that include organization, student well-being, planning, and accessibility. Case studies enhance the framework by demonstrating that the learning goals must also meet the needs of the various diverse learners. The strategies in Johnson’s framework for designing lessons for student success are supported by growth mindset as developed by the research of Carol Dweck. For real world learning experiences that are engaging, the constructivist theory is supported in her framework by Dewey, Piaget, and Vygotsky.

Johnson’s framework also underscores the importance of assessment design that is authentic to the discipline. She describes in detail how assessment needs to be ongoing, throughout, and across the learning process. Case studies support her framework with real world scenarios about assessment that readers may find useful for developing similar online teaching scenarios. Assessment tools such as using video feedback provides students with their instructor’s familiar face and with the appropriate tone of voice to ensure the students are on the right track and stay on the right track. Audio feedback is elaborated on as an effective way to provide assessment for learning. Due to her positive feedback on video and audio feedback, Johnson claims that one area for further research is “[t]o have future studies explore the efficacy of asynchronous video feedback for online music students” (p. 165).

In Part 2, Practical Application, Johnson explores considerations for teaching music online. Her framework supports instructors of all technology levels including those who are new to online teaching. For those who have experience teaching online, she provides additional aspects to consider. These additional aspects can be easily accessed in this book.

The well documented index clearly ensures smooth navigation to a multitude of practical charts, ideas, specific strategies, research, and theories for successful online teaching. The practicality of the framework brings research into the real world for authentic, everyday use. Not only is this framework valuable for the intended audience in the music discipline, it is a credible resource that has useful examples and resources for all instructors who are developing online courses.

Connection and Networking

In Part 3, Future Innovations, Johnson provides outstanding resources and networking connections to keep the audience informed about the most current upcoming innovations and research in technology for teaching music online. Detailed publications and authors who are experts in the field of teaching music online are easily accessed through Johnson’s connection to her readers through her website. Each publication is easily accessed under the heading, with the topic from their current research.

Johnson emphasizes the importance of constructivist learning theory that supports the scholarship of using technology in the real world of teaching music online. One of this book’s goals is to provide an easy-to-navigate framework throughout the online planning and teaching process. Johnson avoids a one-size-fits-all approach, and focuses on authenticity in her framework for real world, student-centered learning that includes diverse learners. Johnson provides a wealth of information to further promote networking where teachers can share new technology and learnings. “From this perspective, as we grow our expertise in online music learning, so too should we grow in our sharing and learning across our professional learning networks” (Johnson, 2022, p. 176).

Finally, the section on Ways to Share Knowledge is a practical component that provides peer-reviewed resources to answers to future questions. Johnson takes time to highlight the importance of sharing and contributing to the research of online music teaching. She outlines key scholars in this section who are renowned for their specialization in teaching music online. She has divided the easily accessible list of research fields into 11 categories ranging from online music technology teaching tools to online presence for ease of access and for further research. The book is intended to be a starting place for continued research on the topic, and support for, further research. Johnson encourages readers to take part in various forms of learning communities, as well as share their knowledge of online music teaching with colleagues and researchers.


The strength of this book aims to provide the reader with scaffolded steps for planning and developing online courses in music as well as other disciplines. It focuses on important points that are supported with charts and figures that are easily accessible. In addition to providing an outstanding framework for teaching online music, the book flawlessly provides the scaffolding for each step with detailed instructions supporting those new and not-so-new with opportunity to advance their online music teaching designs and activities. For easy access to specific topics, the index meticulously provides a straightforward and easy-to-navigate organized list of important points that are discussed in detail throughout the book. This framework can be used as a valuable handbook and guide to plan effective online courses in music and other disciplines.


Johnson, C. (2022). A framework for teaching music online. Great Britain: Bloomsbury.


Sandra Duggleby, PhD, is a field experience supervisor and sessional instructor at the University of Calgary in the Werklund School of Education in Alberta, Canada. Curriculum and instruction are her areas of specialisation. Dr. Duggleby has teaching experience in Alberta and Saskatchewan and has recently retired as a K–9 educator. Email: sduggleb@ucalgary.ca

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