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Music Teachers´ Choice of Teaching Content: A Study of the Teaching of Ensemble and Music theory in Upper Secondary School
Halmstad University, School of Teacher Education (LUT), Research on Education and Learning within the Department of Teacher Education (FULL).ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0965-8805
2010 (English)In: Crossing borders: Nordic research in music education in an international perspective / [ed] Karin Johansson, Malmö: Malmö Academy of Music , 2010, 24-25 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The way in which music teachers choose and use the subject content in ensemble and music theory in upper secondary school is focused in this study. The point of interest is the everyday classroom teaching of music teachers. The intentions that music teachers have with their teaching are also studied. This thesis is a study of music teaching and is a subject-didactic investigation, inspired by variation theory. The study is a contribution to empirical-oriented didactics since it generates knowledge of how the relation between content and teaching methods is constituted in music teaching. The overarching aim of the thesis is to study how music teachers in upper secondary school choose teaching content when teaching ensemble and music theory. The teachers´ use of teaching content implies that they choose to focus and teach certain parts in their teaching. This choice of content and how it is used is in focus in this study. The research questions are: How do music teachers choose teaching content when teaching ensemble and music theory in upper secondary school? How do music teachers use the teaching content in their teaching? The data collection includes video-documented lessons and qualitative interviews with five music teachers in upper secondary school. The selection of music teachers was made by strategic selection in order to obtain varied, substantial information of the ways music teachers handle the music content. The analysis reveals two different choices of content. When the teachers have music and theory as the content of their teaching, it is the content that guides the teaching methods, where the teacher uses a fixed content, which is presented in different ways; this was mainly in music theory. When the content is music activities, the music teacher adjusts the activity-based content in accordance with the pupils’ level of skills in ensemble. Music as a subject matter of facts describes the teaching that occurs. In teaching, verbal instructions are made explicit by practical instructions. The pupils´ forms of activity are principally reproductive and reflective. The holistic approach, which is prominent in the intentions music teachers have with their teaching, is not reflected in their actual teaching. Instead, they choose to focus a part of the text without paying attention to its relation to a broader musical context. The teaching corresponds to the curriculum with regard to teaching fundamental concepts, but does not relate to music-making. When teachers express musical intentions, these do not correspond to their teaching and vice versa. The variation theory analysis is a result of the researcher´s external perspective, where analytical tools have been used on the empirical material. The teachers have not been informed about the variation theory perspective. The music teachers choose a content to teach their pupils. By way of the learning objects, which might be constituted by actions as mentioned earlier, the teacher develops the pupils´ skills by focusing and varying the critical aspects of the content in question, which generates different patterns of variation. For example, in order to teach a chromatic scale, the teacher focuses on the pupils´ skills to define, recognise and write the scale. This implies more than one critical aspect in the teacher´s use of the teaching content. From an overall perspective, the critical aspects are characterized by motor skills and by following rules. The differences that occur in the variation results are closely related to the teaching content. In music theory, the most prominent pattern of variation is generalisation, which implies that a phenomenon is varied by focusing on different expressions of it. In ensemble, the patterns of variation are principally constituted by generalisation and separation. The teachers´ ways of handling the teaching content in ensemble also imply that they separate a part of this content and use it separated from the larger context in which it appears. Teaching addressed to one individual pupil is characterised by separation, whilst teaching addressed to a group of pupils relates to generalisation. Furthermore, the sequence of the patterns of variation seems to relate to different contents in different ways. The pattern of variation occurs in different orders of appearance depending on the content. The foundation for the two different choices of content that are made by the music teachers, as well as the significance of the learning objects, are finally discussed. Music and theory as content relate to anaesthetic foundation, while music as activity as the content implies a social foundation. These foundations of content are also related to theories of Bildung. A learning object signifies a certain way of apprehending the content. The occurrence of different patterns of variation has a significant relation to the teaching content. The music-oriented didactic and variation theory perspective in this study are related to one another by way of expressions of an emic and etic approach, respectively, where the music teachers´ focus on skills validates the two analyses of this study. Music as a subject matter of skills is discussed. Higher music education and the curriculum for ensemble and music theory in upper secondary school are also included in the discussion. Pedagogical implications of this study are that different content generates different ways of teaching, shown by the sequencing of the pattern of variation. The way music teachers handle the content differs when teaching is addressed to an individual pupil or a group of pupils. All four pattern of variation, separation, generalisation, contrast and fusion, occur in this study, though not in all learning objects. Thus, the character of the content seems to have an impact on the patterns of variation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Malmö: Malmö Academy of Music , 2010. 24-25 p.
National Category
Music
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-16821OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-16821DiVA: diva2:469113
Conference
Nordic Network of Research in Music Education Conference, Malmö, April 21–23, 2010
Available from: 2011-12-22 Created: 2011-12-22 Last updated: 2015-08-21Bibliographically approved

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