University of the Arts Helsinki
Recent publications
The classical music sector faces an urgent challenge as increasing numbers of performance graduates struggle to establish themselves as full-time professional musicians. In part, this situation relates to narrow higher music education curricula that do not sufficiently prepare musicians for the precarious and non-linear careers that characterize music work. The study reported here employed version 1 of the Musical Identity Measure (MIMv1) together with three open-ended questions to explore student musicians' motivations to engage in music and their career-related meaning making. A lexicometry analysis based on Bayesian statistics was applied to six psychological and environmental areas identified in MIMv1: 1) resilience and adaptability; 2) approach to learning; 3) emotional attachment; 4) social factors; 5) music and self; and 6) career calling. Results indicate that postgraduate classical music performance students have strong musical calling and emotional attachment to music. They also recognise the importance of identifying themselves as learners in order to thrive in the profession and they accept that the development of social capital, resilience, and adaptability need attention both during their studies and into professional life. The article presents recommendations for Higher Music Education, and identifies potential risks related to strong identification with music.
Experimental research on the psychophysiological effects of different art materials and tasks is still scarce. This mixed methods research focused on physiological changes and emotional experiences in drawing and clay forming during the tasks of copying, creating novel designs and free improvisation within fast and slow timeframes. It combined an experimental setting and analysis of 29 participants’ physiology with a qualitative content analysis of 18 participants’ stimulated recall interviews. The main findings indicate that fast drawing was mentally the most relaxing. This physiological and qualitative evidence supports the therapeutic use of the fast scribbling tasks commonly used in the warm-up phase of art therapy. Furthermore, compared to drawing, clay forming demanded higher mental and physical effort in both timeframes. Interestingly, while physiology did not significantly differ between the tasks, the qualitative analysis revealed that nondirective clay forming stimulated participants’ creative ideation and evoked the most positive emotions. This supports the use of nondirective clay tasks to aid in reaching therapeutic goals. The qualitative results also shed light on the unique and contradictory nature of emotional processes that different art materials, tasks and timing can evoke, highlighting the importance of therapists’ skills to sensitively tailor matching interventions for different clients.
This article introduces a piece of choreographic writing. It likewise discusses the kind of site-specific choreographic process of opening up to what in everyday life is not apparent and left in the shadows that generated the writing. The objective of the choreographic process was to allow the impact of the bodily sense of being in contact with an urban location to permeate the authors’ activities in writing. To support this intention, they generated a phenomenologically informed performative score of experimental writing that aims at appreciating the vitality of the sensuous. The first part of the submission presents the actual choreographic writing as an evocative piece of choreography that can be read independently of the second part. This latter part contains an exploration into conceptions about choreography and writing. Here, the article draws specifically on Jean-Luc Nancy’s insights to articulate the kind of phenomenological approach the authors engaged in. It aims at establishing their artistic process as a phenomenologically oriented method in expanded choreography and argues that the writing they generated exscribes their encounter with the Hakaniemi bank in Helsinki on a late December day. It likewise details the significance the body bears on their take on choreographic writing and points towards the manner in which this writing contains traces of the inexpressible and non-thinkable.
Enhancing our knowledge about students' experiences during their studies in higher music education is essential to understand and support them as they cope with their specific workloads in studying music. This study provides a research-based understanding of what engaging in music means to music students when they reflected on their experiences of their studies and workloads. The data were collected from interviews with 29 students in higher music education institutions in Finland and the United Kingdom, and the analysis was conducted by following the framework of transcendental phenomenology. Music students' experiences of their workload are connected in multifaceted ways to the meanings they ascribe to their engagement in music, such as intense and complex experiences that are also a source of vitality, their development as musicians, their creative self-expression, their interaction with others and in building a community, their personal growth and coping approaches during their studies, and the transcendental experiences they encounter during their engagement with music. Thus, the findings indicate that engaging in music is a holistic experience for music students. This study shows the importance of understanding and investing in music students' unique workload experiences through research on the teaching and learning practices of higher music education institutions, which can in turn support music students' well-being, learning, and future careers.
Verbatim technique connects concepts such as ‘actual’, ‘real’, ‘original’ and ‘authentic’ to theatre, performance art and creativity. In this article, I consider the roles of creativity, art, veracity and reality when composing a performance text that is based on the ‘actual words’ of ‘real people’. What is the truth claim in verbatim performance, and how does it operate together with artistic creativity? My approach is that of an artistic researcher conducting research with children. When I collect materials for my verbatim performances, I use many of the same techniques and methods that childhood studies ethnographers use in their fieldwork. The performative turn in social sciences, with post qualitative inquiries and non-representational methodologies, and the educational turn in art, bring these fields even closer together. Both fields face the questions of veracity and creativity without any simple oppositional structure. I claim that, instead of concentrating on the friction between creativity and truth, it is important to acknowledge that creativity can be needed in order to lie less. I argue that ethnographic objects can lie if they are presented to us dead. Although performance art, or live art, claims to be the epitome of liveness and immediacy, it actually expresses the impossibility of guaranteed unmediated presence. The creative skills of an artist and ethnographer are needed, to keep the transcript and presented materials alive and communicating, to ensure that research remains reciprocal.
While there is extensive research on student workload in higher education, research-based findings relating to music students' workloads are, to a great extent, lacking. In this study, we aim to review the literature systematically (a) to identify the factors that have an impact on students' experiences of workload (experienced workload) and (b) to better understand music students' experiences of their workloads in relation to their studies. The overall aim is to offer recommendations for students, teachers, administrators, and student health and well-being services as to how to deal with music students' workload. We conducted a systematic search of literature in 23 electronic databases and 19 music research journals following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews guidelines. Eligibility criteria consisted of design, sample, phenomenon of interest, evaluation, and type of research. Twenty-nine qualitative, quantitative, and multistrategy studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Data were extracted and the quality of the studies was appraised. Extended meta-ethnography was used to create a synthesis revealing specific themes offering recommendations for good practice to (a) increase music students' ability to cope with their workload, (b) provide tools for teachers to support music students to manage and cope with workload, and (c) develop learner-centered environments in higher music education. In addition to presenting recommendations for good practice, we conclude that more research using high-quality designs is needed to investigate music students' discipline-specific experienced workload.
Body consciousness is associated with kinetic skills and various aspects of wellbeing. Physical activities have been shown to contribute to the development of body consciousness. Methodological studies are needed in improving the assessment of body consciousness in adults with distinct physical activity backgrounds. This study (1) examined whether dancers, athletes, and lightly physically active individuals differed regarding the level of their body consciousness, and (2) evaluated the usability of different methods in assessing body consciousness. Fifty-seven healthy adults (aged 20–37) were included in the study. Three experimental methods (aperture task, endpoint matching, and posture copying) and two self-report questionnaires (the Private Body Consciousness Scale, PBCS, and the Body Awareness Questionnaire, BAQ) were used in assessing body consciousness. Athletes outperformed the lightly physically active participants in the posture copying task with the aid of vision when copying leg postures. Dancers performed better than the athletes without the aid of vision when their back and upper body were involved, and better than the lightly active participants when copying leg postures. Dancers and athletes had higher self-reported cognitive and perceptual knowledge of their body than lightly physically active participants. To examine the role of different physical activities in developing body consciousness, experimental methods involving the use of the whole body might be most suitable. Subjective measures may provide complementary evidence for experimental testing.
Music performance anxiety (MPA) affects musicians at various stages of a performance, from its preparation until the aftermath of its delivery. Given the commonality and potentially grave consequences of MPA, it is understandable that much attention has been paid to the musician experiencing it. Consequently, we have learned a great deal about the intrapersonal level of MPA: how to measure it, treatments, experimental manipulations, and subjective experiences. However, MPA may also manifest at an interpersonal level by influencing how the performance is perceived. Yet, this has not yet been measured. This exploratory online study focuses on the listener’s perception of anxiety and compares it to the musician’s actual experienced anxiety. Forty-eight participants rated the amount of perceived anxiety of a pianist performing two pieces of contrasting difficulty in online-recital and practice conditions. Participants were presented with two stimulus modality conditions of the performance: audiovisual and audio-only. The listener’s perception of anxiety and its similarity to the musician’s experienced anxiety varies depending on variables such as the piece performed, the stimulus modality, as well as interactions between these variables and the listener’s musical background. We discuss the implications for performance and future research on the interpersonal level of MPA.
The effect of ever-increasing life expectancy on global demographics has had a significant impact on many professional landscapes, not only in social services and healthcare but more broadly. This instrumental case study explores professional healthcare musicians’ work through their collaborative, socially engaged music-making practice in eldercare hospital wards. Two healthcare musicians were interviewed, and their work and professional practices were observed in the infection and orthopedic wards of an arts-promoting eldercare hospital. The empirical material was analyzed using thematic analysis, and finalized by instrumentalizing the case through the theoretical lens of gerotranscendence and music professionalism. The findings of the study open up a diversified understanding of aging as a transformative process of change and development, and reveal how professional music practices can support a holistic care and healthcare approach. Furthermore, it is discovered that healthcare musicians’ work as a socially engaged approach to professionalism reframes musicianship as part of an expanding professionalism, and calls for further development of higher music education as well as in-service training in the field of music.
Proactive coping styles may help students deal with their study workload and stress in healthier ways. In this explanatory mixed methods study, data were gathered among professional students in higher music education in Finland and the United Kingdom about their experiences of workload, stress, and proactive coping. Bivariate analyses were used to explore prevalence of study workload, stress, and seven proactive coping styles among genders, levels of degree, genre groups, and study programs, and investigate whether stress is predicted by study workload and proactive coping styles. Music students' lived experiences were analyzed to find the determinants of their workload, stress, and coping. Results indicate significant differences between genders and study programs and specific concerns for music students, such as working alongside studying and physical and psychological problems. Higher music education institutions can utilize this evidence to better support music students in their studies and professional careers.
Responding to the identified need for reflection, critique, and evaluations of appreciative inquiry (AI), a form of action research, this article presents a critical reflection on an application of AI in a cross-cultural music education research project. AI was selected as it appeared to both have potential for addressing the complexities related to power imbalances, ethnocentrism, and coloniality inherent in a project aiming to co-develop music teacher education in Finland and Nepal, and because its 4D model supported the co-constructing of visions, which was central to the project. The critical reflection presented in this article focused on three situations of breakdown that occurred during the research process. Analysis of these breakdowns highlighted the need for researchers to engage responsibly in research as participants, account for dreaming as an unevenly distributed capacity when working with visions or aspirations, and develop skills facilitating collaborative spaces that cultivate listening for and appreciating difference. The article concludes by recognising the limitations of undertaking this reflection independently rather than collaboratively and by cautioning against the instrumentalization of appreciation, calling instead for sincere appreciation. Overall, the article contends that the process of identifying and generating new understandings of breakdowns is a powerful approach for stimulating researcher reflexivity.
This article addresses the touch of words on corporeality in reading, performing, and writing in an artistic research project. Here, touch refers to forms of listening, perceiving, moving, and writing triggered by Finnish people’s written memories and experiences concerning mental hospitals. The article, which forms part of the outcome of a multidisciplinary research project titled Engraved in the body, is based on the effects on the researcher of reading these written accounts. Through their inexplicable touch, their obscurity, these memories have haunted, fascinated, and driven the artist-researcher to perform and write in a way which, while not ‘knowing’ anything, nevertheless acknowledges the unpredictable affective touch of memories. This has led the writer and performer to experience infinite spatialities in which conscious acts are replaced by the resonance of memories, generating in turn a kind of non-personal corporeality for transmitting something in them that is hidden or inexpressible through traces of their touch on corporeality. Throughout the process of reading these memories, the continuous practice of a somatic movement technique, the Skinner Releasing Technique (SRT), with its poetic vocabulary and notion of the spatiality of corporeality enabled exposure and attunement to the quality of the written memories of others and to the silence beyond them. Alongside SRT, this article draws specifically on the insights of Maurice Blanchot and Jean-Luc Nancy to articulate the lived relation between corporeality, language, and writing.
This article is an experimentation in poetry on the topic of combat and killing derived from interview data. Such writing is called many things, but I named it documentary poetry which, regardless of its origins, is a manifestation of the indeterminacy and autonomy of art. I have taken the words of Finnish military cadets, poetic in themselves, and exhausted the possibilities of translation by abandoning accuracy for the sake of sensual precision. The zealless yet unsettling depictions of combat are reassembled in poems troubling the mystique and exceptionalism of the military while pointing to the fragility of the military itself.
This chapter offers a compelling overview of male dance students’ predicaments of masculinity in Finland. The chapter provides a much-needed insight into fear, coping, and peer support in male dancing by focusing on young men’s gender-specific dance education experiences. While noting the value of gender-specific peer groups for boys in dance, the authors argue that such groups are not self-evidently safe enough to fully perform gender and sexuality without fear due to cis- and heteronormativity. Recommendations highlight gender-sensitive and inclusive teaching in dance schools as the first step in creating safer spaces for young people to be themselves and celebrate the choices they genuinely value.
Colliding structures: Artistic action research on audience contact course at the Sibelius and Theatre Academies. This article focuses on a period between 2018–2019 when students from the Sibelius Academy were invited to take part in an audience contact course offered by the Theatre Academy. The experiment was carried out as an artistic activity analysis. During the course, theatre and music students formed working groups which encountered people from different habitation units and organized art workshops for them. Based on their experiences, the groups prepared performances which they performed in the health care and social security units as well as in prisons. We focus especially on what we term ‘structural collisions’ taking place between different practices: firstly, we examine the collision between students and reception center workers in organizing art workshops. Another structural collision we discuss rose from the collaboration between different academies. We consider how representatives of different art genres discuss the work concept of a collaboration-based performance and how different work concepts define the agency of the artists within a work group-based artistic process. The aim is to offer visions on how the Theatre Academy and the Sibelius Academy might develop collaborative communal art education at the Uniarts Helsinki.
Who is a child and what is childhood? These are not easy questions to address, yet they are questions that every adult could potentially answer. Every adult was once a child and we all have some form of understanding and conceptualization of childhood; albeit these may be rooted in different ontologies and draw on diverse epistemes. As such, these questions are related to our own axiologies and must be seen as a philosophical proposition (Tesar, 2021a).
A large body of experimental evidence in the empirical sciences shows that writing about life experiences can be beneficial for mental and physical health. While empirical data regarding the health benefits of writing interventions have been collected in numerous studies in psychology and biomedicine, this literature has remained almost entirely disconnected from scholarship in the humanities and cognitive neuropsychology. In this paper, I review the literature from psychological and biomedical writing interventions, connect these findings to views from philosophy, cognitive neuropsychology and narratology and argue that examining established regularities in how narratives are structured can shed further light on the psychological processes engaged during writing interventions. In particular, I argue that the narratological concept of conflict can be applied to resolve patterns of seemingly conflicting empirical findings in psychological studies. More generally, I propose that an interdisciplinary perspective can provide a broader theoretical basis for understanding the psychological processes underlying the health benefits of autobiographical writing and provide directions for future research in psychology and biomedicine.
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275 members
Vesa Norilo
  • DocMus doctoral school
Heidi Partti
  • Sibelius Academy
Hanna Kaarina Järvinen
  • The Performing Arts Research Centre of the Theatre Academy
Kai Lehikoinen
  • Center for Educational Research and Academic Development in the Arts (CERADA)
Tuire Kuusi
  • Sibelius Academy
Helsinki, Finland