29 SES 07, Disrupting knowledge through arts education practices
Assuming a relevant gap between teaching practices in the music teaching system in Portugal this is still based in the “classical” tradition of master-student relation, the author of this paper, as music teacher and as artistic director of a music school, engaged in a action-research project with students, exploring different pedagogical and didactical approaches to music making in instrumental ensembles.
Although for centuries the musicians were multitasked, being capable of playing, composing, performing and improvising, since the middle of the 19th century, the musicians became experts in one field. The concept of creation in music was also changed and, instead of pieces of music where the musician had some creative control (improvising in the cadenzas, for example), the composer started to have complete control over the piece, even composing the cadential parts. Following this path, musicians and music teachers replicate the 19th century practices that are more centered in the replication of the musical “masterpiece” and less on the real music making and creation by music apprentices.
Trying to promote a change in the rationale of music teaching and learning, Elliott (1995:40) defended a “praxial approach”, considering that it is essential for musicians to be able to “musicing” by engaging in “… all five forms of music making: performing, improvising, composing, arranging and conducting…”. This traditional way of thinking music education based in the teacher’s knowledge in a one-to-one tuition makes it harder to develop “autonomy as a learner in this context, or to explore different outlets for […] individual artistic and professional voice.” (Hallam & Gaunt, 2012:17). It also bears consequence to the relevance that music students give to their learning, because they are driven to engage, most of the times, with classical music, instead of relating to their listening habits and engage with meaningful music making. Naidu (2014:459) says that “Effective and engaged teaching practices are those that recognise the importance of making real world connections between the subject material taught, and the students’ experiences, through ‘engaged’ teaching and working to encourage the student to become reflexive and critical thinking societal participants.” It’s intended that students take the leading role in exploring and giving ideas to music creation, through improvisation, composing and conducting. Being those students already a product of several years of music learning in the “classical conservatoire tradition”, there is already resistance to new methods in the classroom, mainly the possibility to expand to new sonorities and to try different musical approaches in a collaborative setting.
Being an explorative research, during the project the teacher had to undertake constant changes in direction, responding to the situations, the teacher had to assume, as Sawyer (Sawyer, 2004: 13) defends, a "disciplined improvisation because it always occurs within broad structures and frameworks”, being this posture of the teacher one of the most relevant aspects to stress in the project. This implied a more democratic way of being a teacher, as defended by Rancière and Freire, abdicating his superiority and giving the students the possibility to take initiative and have a more active role in the construction of their own knowledge that, in terms of music learning, should be oriented “to solve authentic musical problems through active music making.” (Elliott, 1995:61). The idea of "emancipation" of the students defended by Rancière and the idea of non-passive educator is one of the Freire’s principles to claim that the teacher’s attitude "implies decision, choices, intervention in the reality". (Freire, 1996:77). Investigators in the field of music education also defend that “pupils flourish in the context of democratic relationships with both their parents and their teachers”. (Creech, A., & Hallam, S., 2011:8)
We conducted an action-research project with 17/18 students from 12 to 16 years old from a vocational music school in ensemble class. The field project started in October 2014 and its conclusion its expected for May 2016 and, in this paper we intend to present and discuss the main conclusions of the field work with students, that will be discussed more deeply in the PhD thesis. After being presented in previous ECER meetings (Budapest 2015 and Dublin 2016) the preliminary results of the two years field project with students, this paper intends to present the final results of this action-research. The main conclusions in each one of the phases indicated a process that started by having a huge resistance posture from the students’ part to transform the way they were learning music, passing by the difficulty of the teacher to reconfigure his role in the creative work. This lead to a more improvisational posture of the teacher, assuming a scaffolding role and trying to “transfer”, in a gradual way, the responsibility for the students. In the end of the field project, the students were capable of assuming other roles in the sessions, being more competent to lead the sessions without the teacher intervention and also developing higher level musical skills. For this project we collected three different data sources: 1) field notes taken by the teacher during the sessions; 2) a posterior analyses of the video recordings and 3) a focus-group discussion with the students about their perception of these first sessions and what they need from the teacher in the future to achieve what is required from them.
In the end of this project the most striking conclusion is that the “classical tradition” is completely enculturated” in both teacher and students and the process of change and transformation for the defended “praxial approach” is difficult and implies a total reconfiguration of the role of the students and of the teacher and also their pedagogical and artistic relation. Assuming a constructivist approach, this project does not intend to reach concrete results regarding methods or contents for music teaching, but seeks to promote transformation to a more creative and praxial approach to music making. Being one the main focus of the PhD thesis, the role of the teacher in promoting this transformation will be one of the most relevant dimensions to address in this presentation.
CREECH, A., & HALLAM, S. (2011). Learning a musical instrument: The influence of interpersonal interaction on outcomes for school-aged pupils. In Psychology of Music, 39(1), 102-122. ELLIOT, D. (1995). Music Matters: A New Philosophy of Music Education. New York: Oxford University Press. FREIRE, P. (1996) Pedagogia da Autonomia: saberes necessários à prática educativa. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra. HALLAM, S. & CREECH, A., (Editors) (2010). Music Education in the 21st Century in the United Kingdom - Achievements, analysis and aspirations. Bedford Way Papers. Institute of Education, University of London NAIDU, M. (2014). Engaged Pedagogy and Performative Teaching: Examples from Teaching Practice International Journal Edu Sci, 6(3): 459-468. RANCIÈRE, J. (2002). O mestre ignorante – Cinco lições sobre a emancipação intelectual. Belo Horizonte: Autentica SAWYER, R. K. (2004). ‘Improvised Lessons: Collaborative discussion in the constructivist classroom’. Teaching Education 15 (2): 189–201. doi: 10.1080/1047621042000213610SWANWICK, K. (1999). Teaching Music Musically. Routledge, 1999
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