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Music teachers' choice of teaching content23.04.2009 - (idw) University of Gothenburg
Craftsmanship, technique, motor activity and following rules are more important in the hours devoted to music in upper secondary school than the musical and creative dimensions involved in the subject. This is demonstrated by Marie-Helene Zimmerman Nilsson at University of Gothenburg, Sweden, in her doctoral thesis "Music teachers' choice of teaching content. A study of the teaching of ensemble and music theory in upper secondary school".
The everyday practice of music teachers has been analysed through videoing music lessons and conducting interviews in Swedish upper secondary school classes. The actual teaching that takes place in the classroom is put under the spotlight. The analysis focuses on what the teachers themselves choose to emphasise and devote special attention to during music lessons, a perspective that is less common within research in music education. A large proportion of earlier research into music teachers is instead based on what teachers say about their teaching. The background to the study is the constant changes that upper secondary schools are undergoing, where new reforms are resulting in new guidelines.
The study shows that music teachers choose different content for different parts of their teaching. For example, in the subject of music theory, the teacher shows how to annote scales and the students subsequently do as the teacher says.
The choice of teachers in relation to the subject of ensemble playing entails students being active, i.e. that the activity per se comprises the content. This means that their level of proficiency constitutes the starting point for how, for example, teaching guitar chords is adapted to enable everyone to join in and play regardless of skill.
In addition the study shows that the content of the teaching has significance for how the music teacher proceeds. The size of the student group also has an influence on the way in which the music teacher conveys the content.
The thesis problematises and discusses these results. Why doesn't the teaching address the musical dimensions despite the fact that all students can join in and play together in an ensemble? Why does teaching of ensemble and music theory entail following rules to such a great extent rather than relating to the musical function?
The ambition is that the study's results will pave the way for reflections and discussions about the role of music as a subject within upper secondary school. They can also constitute a point of departure in conjunction with further training of professional music teachers, and open the door for discussions within tertiary level music teaching, where teacher trainers and prospective music teachers can discuss and raise issues about the kind of music teaching described by the study.
The future role of music as a subject within upper secondary school can also be raised in this context. What content should the subject have and what should be the focus of the teaching?
Marie-Helene Zimmerman Nilsson is a trained teacher of music for nine-year compulsory school and upper secondary school. Her professional experience encompasses teaching music in art college, preschool, nine-year compulsory school and upper secondary school, as well as teaching at tertiary level within the training of music teachers and teacher training. The contours of the thesis were formulated with an occupationally-related interest in what music teachers choose to emphasise in their teaching.
The opponent was Professor Sture Brändström from the Piteå School of Music. The thesis was successfully defended on Friday March 20 , 10-12 in room A 505, Artisten, Fågelsången 1 in Gothenburg, Sweden
Link to thesis: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/19585
The examining committee consisted of: Stig-Magnus Thorsén, Professor in Music and Society at the Academy of Music and Drama, Gothenburg University
Eva Georgii-Hemming, Senior Lecturer in Musicology at the School of Music, Örebro University
Karin Rönnerman, Professor in Pedagogy at the Department of Education, Gothenburg University
The Academy of Music and Drama at the University of Gothenburg has about 600 students and 150 staff. The Bachelor programmes include composition, musical theatre, music with six specializations, teacher training with three orientations and theatre. The Master programmes comprise music with various orientations as well as opera. www.hsm.gu.se
Press information: Kerstin Nilsson
+46 (0)31-786 4028
http://www.konst.gu.se/english/News/Nyhet_detalj/?contentId=874240&languageI... - press information
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