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This paper analyses the perceptions of 20 students in a conservatoire in the UK about one-to-one tuition, and forms part of research also investigating the perceptions of the students' teachers. Findings suggested that these students had significantly different experiences of one-to-one tuition in terms of frequency and length of lessons. Nevertheless all were enthusiastic about their relationship with their current teacher(s), and the individual attention which one-to-one tuition offered. Tension emerged between trust in a single teacher and ways in which having several teachers encouraged students to become more responsible for their own learning. Furthermore, the dynamics of power in this relationship, though rarely discussed, seemed to have considerable impact on the students, at times hampering their development. Those who had experienced difficulties in the past with teachers also expressed anxiety about personal and professional repercussions. Although students had clear aspirations, for example to be professional performers, these were not usually translating into focused strategic efforts to develop work. This was surprising particularly as their teachers were themselves usually active in the music profession. It was clear that the development of planning and reflective strategies relating to either learning processes or career development were rarely prioritized.
Psychology of Music
Psychology of Music
Copyright © 2009
Society for Education, Music
and Psychology Research
sempre :
One-to-one tuition in a
conservatoire: the perceptions of
instrumental and vocal students
ABSTRACT This paper analyses the perceptions of 20 students in a conservatoire
in the UK about one-to-one tuition, and forms part of research also investigating the
perceptions of the students’ teachers. Findings suggested that these students had
significantly different experiences of one-to-one tuition in terms of frequency and length
of lessons. Nevertheless all were enthusiastic about their relationship with their current
teacher(s), and the individual attention which one-to-one tuition offered. Tension
emerged between trust in a single teacher and ways in which having several teachers
encouraged students to become more responsible for their own learning. Furthermore,
the dynamics of power in this relationship, though rarely discussed, seemed to have
considerable impact on the students, at times hampering their development. Those
who had experienced difficulties in the past with teachers also expressed anxiety about
personal and professional repercussions. Although students had clear aspirations, for
example to be professional performers, these were not usually translating into focused
strategic efforts to develop work. This was surprising particularly as their teachers were
themselves usually active in the music profession. It was clear that the development
of planning and reflective strategies relating to either learning processes or career
development were rarely prioritized.
KEYWORDS: autonomy in learning, instrumental teaching, one-to-one relationship, power
In recent years, there has been significant growth in research relating to
instrumental, vocal and composition tuition in Higher Education (Schmidt, 1992;
Persson, 1996; Gholson, 1998; Kennell, 2002; Mills, 2002, 2004, 2006; Burwell,
2003, 2005; Gaunt, 2005, 2006; Odam & Bannan, 2005; Presland, 2005; Hanken,
2006; Barrett & Gromko, 2007). This has been stimulated by several factors: the
relative lack of existing research literature (Madsen, 1988; Yarborough, 1996;
Duke, Flowers, & Wolfe, 1997; Siebenaler, 1997; Kennell, 2002); the need to under-
stand more about this form of tuition which is cost-intensive (for example, in the
UK changing policy within Higher Education as a whole has challenged the need
2 Psychology of Music
for premium funding to cover one-to-one tuition (Clarke, 2003)); quality assurance
issues in relation to effective practice for teachers who have no training as teachers
(Abeles, Goffi, & Levasseur, 1992); and rapid change and diversification within the
world of professional performing which has stimulated fundamental reconsideration
of professional music training in Higher Music Education.
Higher Education as a whole has also experienced a considerable shift away from
conceptual models of knowledge transmission to a stronger focus on student learn-
ing (Biggs, 1999; Ramsden, 2003). In keeping with this trend, an important body
of work within the field of instrumental/vocal learning has emerged in relation to
practising (Jorgensen, 1995, 1997, 2004; Lehmann, 1997; Hallam, 1997a, 1997b;
Wilding & Valentine, 1997; Chaffin & Imreh, 2001; Nielsen, 2001; Williamon,
2002), and to generic aspects of developing effective approaches to musical excel-
lence as a performer (Davidson, 2004; Williamon, 2004), including physical and
psychological aspects of health and well-being (Chesky, 2004; Rosset i Llobet,
2004). However, less attention has been given to learning within the context of one-
to-one tuition.
Many existing studies have observed lesson interactions (Schmidt, 1992). Aspects
which have been investigated, albeit in contexts other than conservatoires, have
included student participation and musical development in lessons (Burwell, 2003;
Burwell, Pickup, & Young, 2003;); the sequence and pace of lessons (L’Hommidieu,
1992; Duke, Prickett, & Jellison, 1998); the nature of teacher feedback and instruc-
tions to students, and student attentiveness (Jones, 1975; Kostka, 1984; Jorgensen,
1986; Siebenaler, 1997); teacher modelling (Rosenthal, 1984; Schon, 1987;
Gholson, 1998), and the relationship between teacher and students (Hepler, 1986;
Schmidt, 1989; Donovan, 1994). Findings from these studies have indicated the
level of detailed reflection-in-action between teacher and student made possible in
one-to-one tuition. They have also highlighted problematic areas, for example in
periods of directionless activity observed in lessons, lack of planning on the part of
teachers, and little encouragement towards self-responsibility and independent
Kennell (1992), comparing the studies of Hepler (1986) and Rosenthal (1984),
noted contradictions in their findings. On the one hand Hepler’s study suggested
that whilst students tend to play in lessons, teachers tend to talk. On the other
hand, Rosenthal’s study indicated that musical modelling alone was a more
effective method of instruction than either verbal instruction alone or musical
modelling mixed with verbal instruction. Consequently Kennell pointed out
the need for a theory of one-to-one tuition (applied music instruction). Building
on Vygotsky’s notion of a zone of proximal development, and using six teacher
strategies articulated by Wood, Bruner and Ross (1976) in scaffolding learning
(recruitment to a task; reduction of degrees of freedom; direction maintenance;
marking critical features; frustration control; demonstration), Kennell proposed the
foundation for such a theory, which went some way to explaining these apparent
contradictions. He did not, however, report further empirical testing of this theory,
and in drawing on findings from Hepler and Rosenthal he assumed the expertise of
the teaching involved, disregarding the possibility that the contradictions might in
Gaunt: One-to-one tuition in a conservatoire 3
fact reflect problematic aspects. He did not take into account, for example, that these
practitioners were probably not trained as teachers and worked in relative isolation
behind the closed doors of the studio.
Abeles, Goffi and Levasseur (1992) referred to a ‘halo’ effect, where they found
that students were unable to discriminate between the performing abilities of their
teachers. This indicated a particular characteristic of the one-to-one relationship,
further emphasizing the need for research specific to the field, particularly looking
beneath the surface of teacher/student perceptions and their interactions, and
probing contradictions such as those evident between Hepler and Rosenthal.
The value and centrality of a student working one-to-one with a master of their
own discipline has often been emphasized (Alexander & Dorrow, 1983; Bloom,
1985; Howe & Sloboda, 1991; Presland, 2005; Barrett & Gromko, 2007). At the
same time, some research has been explicitly critical of particular teachers (Persson,
1996), and some has indicated that this form of tuition may not always facilitate
the development of some key skills needed for professional life. For example, in a
study of instrumental undergraduate students at a conservatoire in the UK, Mills
(2002) suggested that although students greatly valued their one-to-one lessons
and were developing many instrumental skills, they were not necessarily learning
how to transfer these skills to contexts other than those of performing themselves,
for instance to a teaching context.
In a study of university students in the UK specializing in performance Burwell
(2006) identified potential problems for the students in terms of developing inter-
pretative skills. In particular the most talented students seemed to be engaged
in a process of transmission from teacher to student, rather than learning to take
respons ibility for their own learning and so progress to a place where they could
develop their own musical interpretations of repertoire, and solve technical issues.
Developing independent learning skills is widely accepted as a key learning outcome
in Higher Education generally. Within instrumental/vocal tuition Kennell (1992)
identified the difference between self problem-solving involved in practising and the
zone of proximal learning in a lesson. This useful distinction makes it easy to see how
the very power of a developmental process in a proximal zone might mitigate against
the development of independent learning skills, and indeed the ability to transfer
what has been learned to other contexts, as articulated by Mills (2002).
Within this expanding area of research, this paper reports on findings from
a larger qualitative study looking at the perceptions of teachers and students in a
conservatoire in the UK about one-to-one tuition. This research aimed to get below
the surface of these perceptions to extend understanding of the nature of this
learning context: how it may impact on student learning, particularly in terms
of developing independent learning skills, and may support students in moving
towards a professional career. This paper presents an analysis of the perceptions of
20 undergraduate and postgraduate students about one-to-one tuition, and forms a
pair with an earlier paper analysing the perceptions of 20 teachers (Gaunt, 2008).
Considered together, it is hoped that these will provide some detailed insight into this
area of tuition, which remains key to the education processes in most conservatoires
and many music departments.
4 Psychology of Music
Conceptual framework and methodology
Gathering data in this field presents a number of potential difficulties, such as the
reluctance and scepticism of participants in relation to research, and the possibility
of impacting negatively on the relationship between teacher and student and
damaging the trust between them. This study aimed, therefore, to be as sensitive
as possible to these issues. My own position as a teacher in the conservatoire meant
that I was an insider to the research field. This had disadvantages in the bias of
my approach. On the other hand, it afforded me relatively easy access to potential
participants, and the possibility of generating an atmosphere of trust around the
processes of the research, its rationale, aims and methods. This enabled me to make
participants feel understood, which could act both as a motivating factor in their
participation, and as a way of avoiding discussion which was simply plausible rather
than authentic (Cooper, 1993). It also meant that I could use the research process
to build trust in critical reflection on teaching within the School and to begin to
stimulate professional development in this area where very few teachers have any
pedagogical training (Gaunt, 2008).
It was important that a body of empirical data should be collected and analysed,
rather than the questions about conceptualization of instrumental/vocal teaching
being conducted exclusively at a theoretical level, as this would play an important
role in the ethnographic principle of making the familiar strange. Empirical phen-
omenology offered the possibility that interview data could be treated as phenomena
in themselves, and analysed accordingly (Tesch, 1990; Cooper & McIntyre, 1993).
A method of semi-structured interviews to gather a body of data about students’
perceptions was chosen because it was both practical in the context of the conser-
vatoire, and had the potential to generate rich evidence. Semi-structured interviews
could be undertaken on a one-to-one basis with a cross- section of students, without
causing institutional disruption or concern.
An informant-style interview encouraged rapport between interviewer and
participant, and authenticity in the construction of teacher and student perceptions
(Powney & Watts, 1987; Cooper, 1993). My experience as an instrumental teacher
meant that as an interviewer there would be some common reference points with
parti cipants. Although there were limitations concerning my bias in this, the aware-
ness of common reference points would also potentially enable the discussion to
probe perceptions in greater detail. As Cooper (1993) suggested: ‘By emphasising
the teacher’s expertise and showing an awareness of the difficulties involved in
arti culating craft knowledge, a collaborative relationship was established between
teachers and researchers, in which they together explored the teacher’s thinking’.
The participants were all instrumental/vocal students at the conservatoire within
four music departments: keyboard, strings, wind, brass and percussion, and vocal
studies. They came from a total cohort of 650 music students at the conservatoire
Gaunt: One-to-one tuition in a conservatoire 5
across both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. The majority of the
teaching staff in the conservatoire are part-time visiting professors, who teach
students of their own specialism on a one-to-one basis, and work for a fluctuating
number of hours each year depending on the numbers of students in their discipline,
sometimes for as little as three hours per week. The conservatoire offers a four-year
BMus programme for western classical, jazz, electronic musicians and for com-
posers. The range of postgraduate programmes includes classical performance, jazz,
composition, leadership and music therapy. The principal study area (for example
violin or piano performance) is the main focus for all the programmes in the
conservatoire, and within the BMus programme accounts for 80 out of 120 credits
accumulated in each year.
In this study, 20 students were interviewed, and each one was a student of one
of the teachers interviewed in the previous study (Gaunt, 2008). In order to identify
potential student participants, each teacher interviewed was asked to recommend
four or five of their students at different stages of professional development, who
were studying, or had recently studied, with them, and who they felt would be
willing to articulate their ideas. They were asked not to suggest only those students
with whom they felt that one-to-one tuition was working most effectively, but to
suggest a cross-section of students. From these lists, 20 students were selected, to
create a balanced sample in terms of gender, instrumental/vocal discipline, age
and stage of development (see Table 1). The student selection was not, therefore,
random, but ensured that some teacher–student pairs could be considered.
Not surprisingly, the students had all been studying their instruments for a
considerable number of years prior to arriving at the conservatoire, so confirming
TABLE 1 The demographics of the students
Voice Piano Strings Wind, brass and
Number of students interviewed 4 4 7 5 20
Age range of students (years) 23–26 17–22 17–24 19–31 17–31
Number of undergraduate year 1
and 2 students interviewed
033 1 7
Number of undergraduate year 3
and 4 students interviewed
312 2 8
Number of postgraduate students
year 1 and 2 interviewed
102 2 5
Years learning principal instrument
prior to coming to the
11–15 9–13 10–14 6–16 6–16
Number of female students 2 1 3 2 8
Number of male students 2 3 4 3 12
Number of students with 1 current
1–1 teacher
437 0 14
Number of students with more than
1 current 1–1 teachers
010 5 6
6 Psychology of Music
the length of study required to reach a professional level as an instrumentalist/
vocalist (Bloom, 1985; Chaffin & Lemieux, 2004). Of the two students who had
only been working at their principal study instrument for six years, one had been
studying other instruments for another nine years previously.
The themes and questions on the interview schedule (see Appendix) mirrored those
used in the interviews with the teachers (Gaunt, 2008). My intention as the inter-
viewer was to facilitate the participants in following through their own parti cular
interests and ideas within the broad areas for discussion: aims and fundamental
purposes, the processes of learning and teaching, the one-to-one student–teacher
relationship, and the context of one-to-one tuition. The detailed structure was left to
the participants (Powney & Watts, 1987), but a number of possible prompt questions
were devised, which could be used to develop the conversation in greater detail.
The interviews were recorded on audio tape and then transcribed. Each parti-
cipant was sent the transcript of their interview, and asked to make corrections and
amendments. These edited transcripts were used as the data for analysis.
Participation in the research was voluntary. The research was explained to each
person when they were first asked to do an interview. Participants were informed
that their instrumental/vocal teacher had participated in the research, but they
were not shown the transcript of the interview and nothing about the content of
the interview was discussed, in case this were to influence their responses. A written
summary of the research rationale and methodology was also provided before the
interview. A guarantee was made that each participant would have the opportunity
to edit the transcript of their interview, and that anyone deciding not to take part
in the project would not be in any way advantaged or disadvantaged with regard
to their position in the college, access to teaching, or assessment. Written, informed
consent to use the data for analysis and public dissemination was sought from each
participant when they returned the edited transcript. Potential risks and benefits of
participating in the research were discussed.
The interview transcripts were analysed through a process of recursive comparative
analysis, as described by Cooper and McIntyre (1993), facilitated by the software
package, NVivo. Initially five transcripts were read and were coded for emerging
themes. Points of similarity and difference between the student transcripts were
noted. This coding was used to construct initial theories in the analysis. The analysis
from these interviews was then tested against another set of five student transcripts.
New themes and points of similarity and difference emerged, which in turn were
tested against the first set of interviews. Finally the same steps were repeated with
the remaining set of teacher transcripts to arrive at the full analysis. The process is
summarized in Table 2.
Descriptive statistics relating to the themes emerging from the qualitative analysis
were produced using SPSS.
Gaunt: One-to-one tuition in a conservatoire 7
Reliability, validity and generalizability were considered within the context of
qualitative research, focusing on generating a dependable set of evidence, and
a dependable analysis (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2000). Validity was sought
through selecting a cross-section of students, and creating a depth of data through
the informant-style interview process. Authenticity of perceptions was sought, parti-
cularly through building up detailed accounts of the participants’ perceptions with
specific exemplification, and by looking at the logical consistency of these accounts.
The recursive process of analysis was designed to reach beyond my own immediate
bias as a teacher, to allow detailed concepts to emerge, and to enable issues and
questions which had not been foreseen to surface. The categories in the emerging
themes were also reviewed, alongside the supporting data, by an experienced
researcher, as a way of reflecting critically on the analysis.
Findings and discussion
In the extracts from the interviews the names of all the students have been removed.
‘S1–S20:’ refer to a student talking, ‘HG:’ refers to the interviewer. In the bar charts
used to illustrate some of the points raised in the analysis, the counts are shown in
terms of the number of students in each category. The total count in each case is
20. In the tables showing illustrative examples from the data, some headings are
followed by a number in brackets, for example (3), indicating the number of students
who expressed this kind of opinion.
Different patterns of one-to-one tuition were experienced by the students. All the
wind, brass and percussion players had more than one teacher, up to a maximum
of three. In other departments all but one of the students studied exclusively with
one teacher. Singers additionally saw a vocal coach on a regular basis, who tended
to work as an accompanist and concentrate largely on musical aspects of repertoire.
The length and frequency of lessons also varied amongst the students, from an
hour and a half per week for some of the wind, brass and percussion students, to
two hours per week plus a performance class given by the students’ teacher for the
pianists. Diverse approaches to one-to-one tuition have been noted in the literature
TABLE 2 The process of recursive analysis on the qualitative data
Stage Process
1 Initial reading of five student interview transcripts
2 Emerging themes, and points of similarity and difference analysed from the first five
interview transcripts
3 Initial theories constructed for the analysis
4 Initial theories tested against a second set of 5 student interview transcripts
5 New theories emerging from second set of 5 student interview transcripts
6 All theories tested against the final set of 10 student interview transcripts
7 Final analysis made
8 Psychology of Music
(Kingsbury, 1988; Burwell, 2006), but there has been no systematic study of the
different ways in which one-to-one tuition is structured within curricula and the
impact of lesson length and frequency on learning.
Two exceptions to the general pattern in this study were students in their first or
second year of undergraduate study who received lessons up to three times a week
for between one and two hours for each lesson. These were given at the discretion
of the teacher, and were not formally allocated within the curriculum. It was clear
that the lessons were appreciated, but that the extra provision was determined the
teacher. In one case, the student also reported that the frequency and intensity
of the lessons was initially an almost overwhelming source of pressure, and she had
considered leaving the school. On the other hand, two students indicated that they
did not receive their full allocation of lessons, and that they felt this had a deleterious
effect. These cases illustrate the degree of power held by the teacher over the student,
although none of these students discussed their experiences in these terms. Whilst
the sample size in this study is too small to be able to draw conclusions about positive
correlations between particular ways of structuring one-to-one tuition and learning
outcomes, it was evident that this is an important area for further investigation,
and that a comparison of the provision of one-to-one tuition across conservatoires
nationally and internationally, particularly in terms of what is actually delivered as
opposed to what is proposed, would be an informative component of future research.
All the students had a high regard for one-to-one tuition and the benefits they felt
it brought them (although one student who was at an advanced technical stage felt
that there was little difference in the kind of input she now received in individual
lessons and performance classes). Essentially, students suggested that the teaching
interactions could be entirely focused on an individual, and his/her particular
needs. The continuity of a single approach was also appreciated by some of the
students, as it ensured that different techniques did not become confusing or
paralysing. This, however, was not the case with the six students who had more
than one teacher (see below). Interestingly, in one instance a student attributed the
need for a single technical approach entirely to the teacher.
For a few students one-to-one tuition also reduced the potential for competition,
allowing them to go at their own pace. Another benefit for many was the feeling
that a teacher was a source of long-term support, acting as a champion. In the
cases where a teacher had a particularly good reputation, there was the feeling that
becoming their student could increase the chances of success.
Motivation emerged as a key issue for the students. This was to be expected,
perhaps, given the number of years they had all already been engaged with their
principal study, the intensive hours put into individual practice whilst at the
conservatoire, and the amount of time devoted to working on technical details,
requiring a great deal of repetition, often without huge outward signs of pro gress.
There was some tension therefore between the processes of developing instru-
mental/vocal expertise and staying motivated and engaged in learning. Many of
the students perceived their teachers to have an important role in helping them
Gaunt: One-to-one tuition in a conservatoire 9
with this. Successful lessons could leave them feeling inspired, empowered and
eager to practise; unsuccessful lessons could have the opposite effect. Nearly all
the students discussed ways in which their current teachers were motivating, and
in most cases felt that the improvement in their own playing during lessons was an
important factor in this. There were many fewer examples of de-motivating factors.
Significantly, these all came from students who had chosen to change teachers and
were perhaps therefore more willing to be critical of the previous one.
It emerged, however, that whilst lessons were often motivating, students could
actually become dependent on these lessons for motivation, rather than developing
their own internal and intrinsic motivations. For example, in two cases, students
described a change in attitude on the part of their teacher when they had been
learning with them for a while. The change was designed to encourage the students
to become more independent as musicians, but initially this had a de-motivating
effect, as the student was aware primarily of the teacher seeming to be less directly
involved, or to care less about them personally:
S5: … he [the teacher] changed a lot of his behaviour in the lessons, he wanted to wait
for me to reach our aims and other things. He was more distant, he wanted to have less
lessons … he wanted me to be more independent and do my things. So first I felt very
bad … I didn’t feel motivated enough …
This example demonstrated how a student could easily become dependent on a
teacher, and find developing responsibility for their own learning difficult. Parti-
cularly in the context of a student having experienced one-to-one tuition over many
years, a period of reduced motivation might paradoxically be an inevitable part of
developing greater autonomy in learning.
Four students indicated that they had experienced strong feelings of awe for their
teacher when they first arrived in the school. For some this was motivating, but for
others it was indirectly undermining, as the student became overwhelmed with a
desire to achieve the same things as the teacher, and lost touch with the sense of
their own identity and path. This became less of a problem as students matured:
S17: … you obviously think that your teachers are fantastic … you worship them almost
… you think, ‘wow, I want your life and I want the way you play, I want everything’,
and you expect them to help you 100 per cent. Whereas, when you have got more than
two teachers, you suddenly … make the decision of what you are taking to them … it
takes a while for you to get the confidence to say ‘no I am a person in my own right,
and if I want to do “mf” here and “diminuendo” here, I can’.
The paralysing effects of being hugely in awe of a teacher could also be magni-
fied by a sense of being overwhelmed by the teaching style encountered if this was
markedly different from previous experiences. So, for example, the same student
(S17) described the teacher’s expectations of the level of detail with which technical
and musical issues should be approached as an immense shock initially compared
with the approach of a previous teacher, leaving her bewildered. She became con-
fused about her own connection to the instrument and her intrinsic motivation in
playing: ‘I actually remember thinking because she wanted to work on technique,
and that was a great thing to do because I needed it, I forgot what music was’.
10 Psychology of Music
The students who had more than one teacher indicated that this forced them to be
more responsible for their own learning. They reported that they had to be more
organized in terms of booking lessons with the different teachers while maintaining
an appropriate pattern of input. There was less sense of one teacher overseeing their
work, and they had to become more responsible for their own progress, choice of
repertoire and structuring of work. Whilst this could feel difficult to start with, they
felt that it had helped them to adopt a more mature approach.
These students all reported that they benefited from the diversity of what they
were being offered. The potential danger of receiving too much information at any
time, particularly in earlier stages of learning, was articulated by one of them, but
once more mature, input from several teachers was seen to be beneficial. So, for
example, a mature undergraduate student felt that he was ready to be exposed to
many different inputs:
S16: I think I try to be as open as possible to whatever somebody is going to give me
so … if they say something and I just don’t think it works, then I can take it or leave it,
that’s my choice ultimately … I am still prepared to do the things that I am told, with
the proviso that I can then go away afterwards and decide that was a waste of time and
I’m not going to do that after all.
This student was able to weigh up the teaching he received on an ongoing basis, and
reject the bits which he felt did not suit him.
Learning to teach oneself, however, was not a concept which the students dis-
cussed directly other than in a very few cases. They only seemed to value taking
responsibility for learning once they had done it. This was surprising, perhaps,
given that these were key aims of the teachers (Gaunt, 2008) and have been empha-
sized in the literature (Burwell, 2005; Presland, 2005), and in Higher Education
in general (Salmon, 1992; Biggs, 1999; Phillips & Pugh, 2000; Ramsden, 2003)
Although students reported some aspects of teaching (for example positive feedback
promoting self-confidence, or questioning techniques in relation to musical inter-
pretation) which did facilitate greater autonomy, the majority of those who only
had one teacher emphasized first and foremost a sense of trust in their own teacher
which meant that they would do whatever was suggested, even if they could not
immediately understand why or see the benefit. For example:
S19: … it takes a long time to actually trust the teacher … I would have thought it took
the entire first year to trust my teacher, and then this year in a passive mindset, I have
been able to actually see the progress I have made, just because I have gone hell for
leather into whatever he has said, and thought ‘ok, well I will just do it and see what
In this position it was difficult to take on board the input from other teachers. Only
two students talked about the process of trust being reciprocal, and this giving the
student the space in which to be themselves and grow:
S4: … that is just purely a means to the end, him trusting you as a musician and
trusting that you can manage yourself, and you will grow. You just need the experience
and time.
Gaunt: One-to-one tuition in a conservatoire 11
These contrasting experiences demonstrated important tension. On the one hand
trust in a teacher was essential to enabling significant learning. However, this meant
investing considerable power in the teacher, and in many cases seemed to demand
exclusivity to the teacher–pupil relationship. On the other hand, the experience of
students with several teachers was that this promoted their own autonomy and con-
fidence as learners. It is important to note, however, that all the students reported
being content with the current arrangement they were experiencing, and there was
no evidence that one set of students was more able than the other. The difference
here was largely a departmental one, with five of the six students with several
teachers coming from the wind, brass and percussion department. Several cultural
differences between the instrumental/vocal disciplines were evident in this study,
and are returned to later in the paper.
The human aspects of one-to-one tuition were clearly perceived to be significant,
although not necessarily always easy to negotiate. There was a divide between
students who felt it was more appropriate to keep the relationship on a professional
basis, and not to socialize with the teacher, and students who socialized regularly
with their teacher and felt that this was beneficial. These opinions were consonant
with the ideas expressed by the teachers (Gaunt, 2008), and it was clear that no
professional guidelines were given to help frame the relationship. Examples of the
students’ perceptions are shown in Table 3, and the distribution of student attitudes
to social interaction in the one-to-one relationship is shown in Figure 1.
Although the views expressed about the importance, or not, of getting to know
the teacher on a personal level were radically different, all of the students inter-
viewed seemed to be comfortable in their current teacher–student relationship,
and did not complain about the balance of professional and social interaction. The
type of interaction, however, seemed to be largely instigated by the teacher, and the
students tended to accept the teacher’s view, trusting that this would be the most
beneficial for them. This again demonstrated the power invested in the teacher by
the student, and something of a ‘halo’ effect in terms of how students perceived their
current teacher(s) (Abeles, 1975).
It was interesting that in the distribution of opinions, all of the pianists had some
kind of a social relationship with their teacher, whilst none of the wind, brass and
percussion students engaged in regular social activity with the teacher. The vocal
students were the most polarized between no social relationship or a regular one,
and the string players reported the most varied set of relationships. Although the
sample size was too small to be able to draw conclusions about these differences,
they indicate the possibility of significant cultural differences between the discipline
groups which would be valuable to explore further.
A number of specific personal qualities in teachers were described by the students as
particularly effective, including toughness, a caring attitude and real interest in the
12 Psychology of Music
student’s day-to-day life, or inhibiting, including a feeling of being distant. Examples
of these are shown in Table 4. Whilst some of these characteristics were common
to many of the students’ perceptions, others, such as a rather abrupt manner,
motivated one student to work hard, and made another feel uncomfortable. This
underlined the importance of the individual match between teacher and student as
identified by Presland (2005).
In addition the students identified key teaching strategies in lessons which they
found particularly useful. These included singing a passage of music showing the
shape and gestural impetus of the music, without necessarily showing the detail
of every note; demonstrating (although two students reported that with previous
teachers they had found the demonstrations overwhelming as they were too
frequent and only drew their attention to their own inadequacies), and playing
the piano to accompany, thereby giving the student a more complete experience
TABLE 3 Students’ characterizations of the teacher–student relationship
Individual relationship and personal rapport
S19: I feel it is very individual because every student is different, and the teacher has to
respond to that individual, so I feel treated as an individual … and that makes me feel very
special …
Belief and trust, and the ability to argue with the teacher
S5: Well, I think first of all you have to kind of believe in him, like if you start to doubt in what
he is saying, you are not going to try hard … I realize now … I am a bit more distant because
I see him as a person, before it was like my teacher … somebody from on top … I followed him
without thinking really, because I thought he was right, but now … we talk about music and
I have my opinion and … we argue … he has lots more experience and has played much more
stuff, but still I think … sometimes I am right and he is wrong..
Personal liking and respect of student
S2: I think it’s really to do with her attitude really towards me and how she treats me. Yes,
she is a great teacher, but I don’t think I would benefit as much … if I didn’t get on with her
personally, and just the fact that she treats me like an intelligent, grown-up, rather than some
naughty little boy who can’t play in tune!
S13: I would say that our relationship is quite formal … I think I like that more than with
[teacher B], I got a bit too involved. She was going through a tricky time … I found that I was
talking about that in my lessons when I’d travelled an hour and a half to get there …
Social relationship valued
S9: … we have a … professional relationship and then a personal relationship, because in the
lessons we just work, but then if he’s in the country, he will say ‘let’s go out for a drink’ …
That’s when we will talk about what’s going on in our own lives, and there is a whole group
of us … and we sit and gossip … He doesn’t just care about me as a [musician], and I think
that’s important.
No social relationship
S15: I would say boundaries are, you should always keep the relationship of ‘I am your
teacher’ in a positive sense … meaning: they should be your friend and you should be friends
with them, and be approachable, but you don’t need to spend time with them as a friend. You
are friends in the teacher–pupil relationship that’s it.
Gaunt: One-to-one tuition in a conservatoire 13
of the music. Examples of these strategies are shown in Table 5. They all clearly
illustrated processes of collaborative reflection-in-action, similar to those described
by Schon (1987) and Barrett and Gromko (2007), and clearly dependent on an
effective interpersonal relationship. They also reflected key components of effective
instruction identified by Abeles et al. (1992).
In most cases, questions about boundaries around the teacher–student relationship
elicited confused responses. Participants found it difficult to understand what this
might mean, and for the most part it was not something which was discussed with
a teacher. Four students said there were not any boundaries that they could think
of. Nine students suggested that they did not want their teachers to get involved in
discussions about personal aspects of their life; three students who had strong social
relationships with their teacher(s) were also quite clear that the personal side of
their lives should not be the subject of discussion during lesson times; two students
focused on the intensity of the teaching–learning process, and suggested that it was
the responsibility of the student not to take on board anything which was actually
going to be damaging psychologically; and one student indicated his distaste for the
way in which some students used their position to try and gain favour and perhaps
None Occasional Regular feature
Social relationship
Instrument group
Wind, brass and
FIGURE 1 The distribution of students in terms of engaging in a social relationship
with their teacher, by department.
14 Psychology of Music
professional work from their teacher(s). These different examples showed that most
students did have a sense of boundaries around the relationship, but that there
was not a shared understanding about them. The confusion around this topic also
seemed to reflect tensions between the intensity of the relationship, the trust required
and the student’s own identity and developing voice as a musician and learner.
In all cases, the students were happy with the current match with their teacher(s).
Eighteen of them, within this context, felt confident enough to be able to try and talk
to a teacher about concerns they might have about the relationship and their own
TABLE 4 Students’ characterization of effective and less effective personal qualities involved in
Effective personal qualities Less effective personal qualities
S16: [my teacher] can be quite harsh and has
a reputation of being tough and … very critical.
He can be quite direct to people, and I think if
you go to him knowing that, that’s fine, and
you know what to expect. So you are certainly
on the edge during the lesson, you have got to
get it right … that’s great because it keeps you
on the ball … you end up really trying very
hard, working hard …
S2: what I don’t like about [my teacher] is
sometimes she can be quite distant and it
can switch quite quickly, but sometimes
if I do want to talk about something to do
with my music, but just a slight aside, she …
isn’t helpful, or sometimes if I ask her things
about maintenance of my [instrument] or
something she doesn’t seem to have too
much knowledge, she just says ‘oh’.
Caring about student’s daily life
S4: … [my teacher] will speak about how the
week has been, ‘how are you feeling, are you
tired?’, little things, silly things but … I think
what we do … can be really affected by small
things and … you don’t need to pour out your
heart to your teacher but …
S9: No, her teaching was a little abrupt and
a bit kind of almost forceful in some ways
… I had serious posture problems when I
[performed] when I first got here, I was very
apologetic, and when I got up it was like
(slumps), ‘I will [perform] from this position
because it is comfortable and I feel safe’.
She’s like, ‘no you will stand bolt upright
against the wall while you [perform]’, and
she would just kind of put her hand there
and push me upright. It was like ‘ok I am
here not daring to move’.
Sense of humour
S12: … that’s very important, being able to
laugh, laugh at yourself and laugh at others,
and also respect…but even if something is
wrong, or a rhythm’s wrong, or I have learnt
something incorrectly, then sometimes we will
have a laugh about that, but sometimes there
won’t be. There will be no laughs and it will be
a serious matter, so it is a bit of both.
Unpredictable atmosphere
S13: … sometimes she could be quite
patronizing and I didn’t like that, and she
was unpredictable … I always would be
going into my lessons thinking ‘is it going
to be good or is it going to be bad’, that kind
of uneasy feeling, and so she could be quite
intimidating and very much ‘I am never
Gaunt: One-to-one tuition in a conservatoire 15
However, the experiences of the four students who had been through teacher
changes during their time at the college, three because they were dissatisfied with
their teacher, produced a more traumatic perspective. In each of these cases, this pro-
cess had produced considerable anxiety, and had been delayed through the student’s
confusion, self-doubt, and fear of the teacher’s reaction. The difficulty of coming
to the point of asking to change teachers was perhaps perceived to be a betrayal
of the relationship with the teacher, but the students then also felt disappointed in
letting things run for longer than was really appropriate. One student had heard
painful stories from a previous teacher about changing teachers. Coupled with his
own dilemma about what to do, and general unhappiness in his first year at college,
his problems magnified to a point where he found it impossible to talk to his teacher
about the difficulties. Finally he went independently for a consultation lesson with
another teacher, and then asked to change through the Head of Department.
Another student felt unable to talk to her teacher about her concerns, and was
only motivated to take action after working with and being inspired by a different
teacher in a class. However, the process of discussing the change with her existing
teacher proved awkward, and left a residue of difficult feelings, possibly on both sides:
S9: … she rang me … and I said to her … ‘I need to talk to you and do you mind if the
pianist comes 10 minutes later?’ and she said ‘oh what’s it about?’ I said ‘I can’t tell you
over the phone, and I will tell you later’ and she was like ‘oh ok’ and when I did speak
to her she was like, ‘I was going to ask you to change anyway’. I was thinking that’s an
interesting defence mechanism working there.
Following this experience, the student felt that there needed to be a protocol which
was clearly explained to all students, and which could be used at any time if a
student experienced difficulties and wanted to change teacher. The protocol needed
to include, she felt, more substantial support for the student in these circumstances.
In general, the students appeared to be utterly accepting of the teaching styles
of their current teachers, and did not feel that this was something to be negotiated.
TABLE 5 Successful teaching strategies reported by the students
Demonstrating with the specific instrument/voice (10)
S1: She demonstrates a lot, but … she does it in a really good way because she gives me quite
a lot of options, and then we’ll have quite a bit of discussion … and then she’s like ‘well it’s up
to you in the end’, but she often says ‘I think I would probably do it like this, but you don’t
have to’ … I can make my own choice …
Singing a line to show its shape or a particular expressive quality, rather than demonstrating on the
specific instrument (7)
S20: It’s not coming out, and she then is able to say ‘this just says nothing’, and she might
sing it to me, show what the important notes are, and then I will try and do it … or I might
say ‘well I was trying to do that’ and she will say ‘it wasn’t coming across’ … She won’t sing
if it is a complicated run that I am agonizing over … She’ll sing it that way [demonstrates not
worrying about every single note in a flourish].
Playing the piano in the lesson to accompany (8)
S2: She will also play the piano, she is not a professional pianist or anything but she can play
a bit … That’s really helpful.
16 Psychology of Music
It was up to them as the student to learn as much as they could from the teacher,
and only in extreme circumstances where the relationship was badly strained, or
students felt they were learning almost nothing, did they decide to do something
about it. Where a student struggled to understand the teaching, or perhaps wanted
a different emphasis in the type of feedback being offered, this was generally not
communicated to the teacher. For example:
S7: Well, I will play something, and sometimes I’ll just think ‘oh my god, that was so
awful’, and they will say ‘you know, it wasn’t that bad’, or ‘we all play badly sometimes’
and say things like that. I would rather they just said ‘it was a bit crap wasn’t it?’ It
wouldn’t have to be nasty, but just be like in agreement.
HG: Why is that important to you?
S7: It is important to me, because it shows that they have faith in me that I can do
better …
HG: Would you ever say any of that to them?
S7: I haven’t.
This again illustrated the power invested in the teacher and the tendency for the
students to take a more passive role in the relationship.
The planning which students identified largely revolved around the choice of
repertoire to play, often determined by assessment requirements and/or external
concerts and competitions. There was little evidence that they conceived of planning
in terms of personal development, or the pursuit of professional skills or creative
goals. Their planning tended to relate to short- and medium-term performance goals,
with longer-term goals having lower priority. This finding is interesting in relation
to the factors of effective tuition identified by Abeles et al. (1992), where the teacher
having a long-range plan for the student’s development was felt to be important by
music minors, but was not identified by music majors.
A number of students made audio recordings of some or all of their lessons (none
used video), so that they could listen back, remember what the teacher said, and
repeat particular exercises which they had tried in the lesson. This tended to be used
immediately, in the week following the lesson, and the tapes were not replayed much
after that. Three students kept all or some of the tapes in order to be able to chart
their progress over time. None of them imagined, however, that this could provide
them with a resource for the future, for example exercises and approaches to use
as teachers. Other students indicated that they were insufficiently organized to
record a lesson, even though they felt that this would be a good idea.
All the students were used to making odd notes and directions in the copies of the
music they were playing. In addition, some kept a notebook in which they would
write down details of new music to be found, recordings to hear, or particular ideas
and exercises which teachers had suggested. A few would write these down on
odd scraps of notepaper. Two students kept some reflective notes about practising,
and one had a special notebook for inspiring comments and tips remembered from
masterclasses. Examples of these practices are shown in Table 6.
Gaunt: One-to-one tuition in a conservatoire 17
In general most students were engaging rather little in processes which could
build objective feedback and aid their reflection to deepen learning and help work
through anxiety in learning (Crosling & Webb, 2000). A few of the students were
aware of internal processes of self-evaluation which were ongoing for them all, and
which had a substantial impact on learning. One student, for example, talked about
the lack of a critical approach in practising which he observed in others. However,
in general the lack of engaging in cycles of planning, monitoring and evaluating
and so gaining a balanced range of feedback and setting realistic goals, may have
contributed to a tendency for some of the students to be overly self-critical of
themselves. For example one student suggested:
S1: … people can go through real lows because they just criticize themselves so much
… and then everything about even their playing … just goes splat … I just almost left
[the Conservatoire] in my second year, because I think I was being so self-critical it was
ridiculous, and I wasn’t getting any enjoyment out of it any more …
Her difficulties with self-criticism nearly led her to give up the undergraduate
course, and reinforced the feelings of not being good enough and of low self-esteem
which in turn contributed to her fear of failure. This student indicated both how the
environment at the school could threaten self-esteem, and how the self-criticism
could block out attempts by teachers to be positive and supportive:
S1: … I have been so self-critical that I can’t even take any encouragement, because I’ve
really just thought that things were so rubbish … I think that there are so many great
TABLE 6 Students’ practices in terms of keeping notes about their lessons and individual work
No notes kept (8)
HG: Do you keep notes about your lessons or a kind of log of what you are doing as a
S13: No, I don’t … It has been suggested to me [my teacher] suggested recording lessons,
which I used to do, but my machine broke … I’ve yet to buy another one …
Notebook for things to be written down in lessons (7)
S16: I will write down in my lesson what I have done, if there is something new perhaps …
I sometimes have taken a tape recorder or mini disc recorder to record what’s happening …
It’s just that practically, it is difficult to always take a tape recorder, and then it’s also time-
consuming in having to listen to it … I do keep a notebook.
Occasional notes on scraps of paper (2)
HG: When you write those things down, will it be on a scrap of paper, or will it be in a book
that you keep for making all your notes of this kind?
S12: Normally, just a scrap of paper, it won’t be kept normally.
Notebook for inspiring comments and tips (1)
S17: Every time no, I didn’t make specific notes, but every time I went to a masterclass or had
a lesson, and somebody said something (this sounds really American) particularly inspiring,
I have a notebook on all that kind of thing.
Notebook for use with own practice (2)
S7: … what I have been trying to do, so that I don’t waste time when I am practising, is write
down all the different types of scales that you can possibly do with [a specific technique] for
example. Because that is my kind of main goal this year, is to get better at [this technique]
because I have been really weak …
18 Psychology of Music
players, and it is very difficult, you know I am sure that everyone goes through this who
comes to music college, you just open your eyes and think ‘oh God’, and then it is very
difficult to kind of justify to yourself just being here, almost.
However, only two students articulated processes within their lessons which
enabled them to develop positive critical self-reflection. Furthermore, the lack of
planning, monitoring and evaluating may also have contributed to the unproactive
approaches to professional engagement which the students reported (see below),
and their difficulty in turning aspirations into practice. However, these perceptions
of planning, monitoring and evaluating one-to-one tuition were similar to those of
the teachers (Gaunt, 2008), and suggests that further research is needed to explore
personal and professional planning, and the ways in which specific tools such as
audio and video feedback, note taking, and reflection may enhance learning.
The students were nearly all oriented towards careers as professional musicians.
The largest group of students was not yet set on a specific path within music, but
a few were dedicated, for example, to a solo career, or definitely wanted to pursue
a ‘portfolio career’: combining several different areas of work such as performing,
teaching and composing. Only one student had decided that a career as a profes-
sional musician was not his first aspiration, and he had secured himself a job in a
different field for the following year. One other student was unsure about his com-
mitment to music. Examples of these different aspirations are shown in Table 7, and
the distribution of the professional aspirations of the students is shown in Figure 2.
It was surprising that in spite of being sure about wanting to pursue a career
in music, and having dedicated huge numbers of hours to developing their
TABLE 7 The professional aspirations of the students
Professional performing, undefined specific path (9)
S10: I would like to do a lot of things even in these four years … outside [the conservatoire] …
I know a lot of people … and eventually I would like to have a career in performing … I think it
is so important to go for any auditions …
Definite single vocational path (3)
S18: Yes, I am heading for solo career and chamber music … I am also totally aware of the …
pressures and amount of work … I think that I have the right potential to do that.
Portfolio career (6)
HG: … what do you feel that you are going to need?
S3: To be a very fluent and flexible, modern … musician.
Changing to a career outside music (1)
S14: I think just being in the big arena … being here and getting to see what it is like to play in
an orchestra, where you are all the same standard, has just given me a bit of an idea of what it
is going to be like, and somehow it’s taken some of the fun out of it for me.
Unsure about future direction (1)
S2: … up until now I have been thinking, if I can … do a mixture of orchestra/chamber music/
teaching of sorts, that would be great, but I am actually thinking I might take a year out first
and not go straight on to do a postgrad … I mean just a chance to kind of do something a bit
Gaunt: One-to-one tuition in a conservatoire 19
instrumental and musical skills, nine of the students could not articulate specific
ideas about what kinds of work they would pursue, and were taking more of a ‘wait
and see what comes along’ approach. These were not exclusively the more junior
students, some were close to the point of leaving the conservatoire. There did not,
therefore, seem to be natural progression towards more specific aspirations during
their time at the school. There was also almost no mention of developing teaching
skills, although instrumental teaching was something which some of the students
were already doing to support themselves through study, and many of them would
almost undoubtedly include teaching as part of professional work at least at the
start of their professional careers. These findings are consonant with Mills (2002)
and are significant in the light of literature which has emphasized the importance of
preparing students to be flexible and multi-skilled in order to be able to function in
the contemporary workplace (Mills, 2004; Burt-Perkins & Lebler, 2008).
It is also significant in relation to the teachers in this study who aspired strongly
to providing students with a vocational toolbox (Gaunt, 2008). The environment
seemed to be encouraging students to focus on their immediate selves and the one-
to-one learning context to the exclusion of building strong connections to the wider
world and engaging proactively in the development of a professional career. There
Professional performing, undefined
Definite single vocational path
Portfolio career
Changing to a career outside music
Unsure about future direction
Professional aspirations
Instrument group
Wind, brass and
FIGURE 2 The professional aspirations of the students, by department.
20 Psychology of Music
were ways in which the experience of one-to-one tuition could in fact be enabling
students to adopt a rather lazy approach to learning, relying extensively on the
input of the teacher, and inhibiting their development of autonomy as musicians
and learners.
Figure 2 also demonstrates that there were some differences between the aspir-
ations of the different instrumental/vocal groups of students. The most homogenous
group was the vocal students. This may have been because physiologically, as experi-
ence in this school suggested, vocalists take longer to reach maturity. The majority
of the wind, brass and percussion students were focusing on portfolio careers. It
was not clear whether this related to the nature of the professional work available
for their instruments, or indeed to the fact that many of them studied with several
teachers and so had a greater variety of role models. The string players constituted
the most diverse group, perhaps because there were more realistic professional
options open to them, although it was also string players who were experiencing
doubts about their future careers or were changing course altogether. Again, the
small sample of this study means that no conclusions can be drawn about differences
between the discipline groups, but their particular characteristics would merit
further research.
The students’ aspirations were usually mirrored by their current involvement in
performing and professional activities. Nearly half of the students were passive in
their approach. Although they were involved in giving occasional concerts outside
the college, mostly on a non-professional basis, this was only as and when they were
invited to do so. Relatively few students were seriously proactive in attempting to
develop a profile through taking part in national and international competitions, or
through looking for professional work giving concerts and teaching. One student, a
first year undergraduate, was highly active – performing in concerts and working
in a pop studio as an arranger/composer. Most importantly, little progression was
evident from the early undergraduate years through to postgraduate years, as
shown in Figure 3, and two of the busiest musicians professionally were first year
undergraduates. This suggests that as the students progressed through the courses
they were not necessarily preparing themselves increasingly for engaging in profes-
sional life beyond building their skills as an instrumentalist/vocalist. This was
surprising given that without exception the students were aware of the potential
difficulties of establishing themselves, particularly as professional performers.
The processes of learning at the conservatoire did not seem generally to be stimu-
lating entrepreneurial or creative approaches to professional work. One fourth-year
student suggested that, if anything, she had experienced a process of becoming
narrower in focus before regaining a breadth of vision:
S1: … when I arrived … I had as open a mind as I do now, which I think probably got a
bit closed on the way, but it has probably opened up again now, – but now it is much
more realistic, in view of what I want to be doing and how I can go about it …
How realistic the students’ prospects were at this stage, especially those with un-
formed plans, was not clear. It was evident, however, that most of them considered
Gaunt: One-to-one tuition in a conservatoire 21
the possibility of failure professionally. Indeed the fear of failure could permeate
much of the learning process. One student indicated:
S17: when I started out … I put my teacher … on a pedestal … she was quite a figure
… I looked up to her very much … I think fear was playing quite a big part of it … I
was actually worried. If I went to the lesson unprepared, what would happen, and what
reaction that might encourage in her? So, I think fear has played quite a big part of
actually … taking responsibility, doing a lot more.
In this instance fear was a motivating factor, but in other cases it could also be
distracting and inhibit learning:
S4: I … knew what I was supposed to be working on, but again, I was always more
worried about the exams than I was about what I was concentrating on, worried about
not being good enough.
The demanding ongoing processes of technical and musical development inspired
some but inhibited others, and in many cases it seemed to make it difficult to step
back and reflect on a broader and more long-term picture. The two string students
who were unsure about pursuing a musical career shed further light on this. The
post graduate who had decided to change career (see Table 7 Changing to a career
outside music, S14), made this decision relatively easily during a year of postgraduate
A few concerts
Concerts and competitions
Concerts, teaching
Concerts, pop studio work
Concerts, competitions, teaching
Professional profile
Year group
Undergraduate 1 and 2
Undergraduate 3 and 4
Postgraduate 1 and 2
FIGURE 3 The developing professional profiles of the students, by department.
22 Psychology of Music
study. However, he had come from a university music background, which had been
broader and less intensive instrumentally. In contrast, an undergraduate in his third
year, was struggling to understand his own feelings and motivation towards being a
professional player (see Table 7 Unsure about future direction, S2). Having made the
commitment to a conservatoire education and having studied hard for three years,
moving away from professional music would mean a complete reconfiguration of
his use of time, and giving up what seemed to have become a core part of his daily
activity, and his personal identity. This seemed to be creating a situation of paralysis
where fear of letting go of accepted aspirations of musicians was competing with the
excitement of exploring some new things.
Fear and anxiety in learning is the focus of a growing field of research in Higher
Education which suggests both that anxiety may be present at different stages
of the learning process and that it may have a significant impact on performance
out comes (MacIntyre & Gardner, 1994; Crosling & Webb, 2000; Trigwell, 2005).
Several things are identified which may help students to work through and over-
come anxiety in learning: rapport and trust in the communication between students
and teachers; objective feedback; empowerment of students through developing
intrinsic confidence; and the development of autonomy as a learner. This empha-
sizes the significance of findings in this study that suggest that the intensity of the
instrumental/vocal work demanded of the students, and the gap which some of
them perceived between themselves and their teacher, detracted from the process
of building intrinsic confidence and autonomy.
Whilst teachers had different things to offer students, the students suggested that by
and large all teachers adopted a similar kind of lesson structure and followed this
consistently: a brief warm-up or chat, the student playing a study or some repertoire
and then detailed comments and technical or musical work on the material.
This structure was not commented on by the students, rather it was accepted as
normal. The familiarity of a routine structure in a lesson may in some cases have
helped students to feel comfortable. In others, it may have been too comfortable,
again not stimulating student autonomy or indeed creativity in learning, through,
for example, thinking ‘outside the box’. The lack of variation in lesson structure
perhaps also highlights the self-replication of this tradition of tuition which is almost
inevitable when there are few development processes underpinning the tradition
such as teacher training, continuing professional development opportunities, or con-
nections between research and teaching.
Furthermore, the predominant feeling amongst the students was that there was
little integration between the work they did in one-to-one tuition and the rest of the
curriculum, especially in academic classes. Fourteen of them considered one-to-one
tuition to operate in a special and separate world, where the core of their learning
took place. They saw classes as a peripheral activity, and at times irrelevant. Five
students were able to discuss ways in which there was some integration, and one
student did not discuss this aspect at all. In a few cases the feeling of integration was
focused within the department, as for example with the vocalists, who had a wide
range of language and song classes as part of their immediate departmental activity.
Gaunt: One-to-one tuition in a conservatoire 23
In other cases, the integration extended to classes designed for all the students, such
as music studies and teaching skills courses.
Nearly all the students felt that it was their own responsibility to integrate
experiences from different areas of the curriculum, and this was not something
to discuss with their teacher, even if it was proving to be problematic. Only one
student suggested directly that more support with this would be useful. An ex-
treme example of a student not asking for support from a teacher involved a case
where the student usually had his lessons at his teacher’s home. This, he suggested,
increased the privacy, and the potential for them both to immerse themselves in
the learning process. On the other hand, he felt that it meant that the teacher was
rather detached, and not in contact with other aspects of his course, even with
something as close to the individual lesson as chamber music. This appeared to be
disempowering in some respects, and the situation he described was in fact prob-
ably one where some active support from the teacher could have helped to rectify an
otherwise ongoing problem. However, this was not his point of view:
S6: … I have actually had a lot of problems in this whole area [chamber music], it has
been really difficult for me to hold a group together, and for most of this year I have
been without a group, and without any way of being able to put it right. I haven’t really
talked to [my teacher] about it, because it’s not her fault … she can’t do anything about
it, so there is not much point in saying …
These issues resonated with the views of the teachers (Gaunt, 2008) and brought
to the surface real difficulties both in terms of one-to-one tuition being an integral
part of an evolving curriculum, and a teacher acting as a long-term champion for
the student.
In addition, as many of the students indicated, the nature of professional music-
making for most people involved interacting and working with other people. In
this sense, the one-to-one teacher–student relationship was not particularly repre-
sentative of professional experience, with its unpredictable, ever-shifting challenges
and relationships. However, the students did not seem to be particularly proactive
in seeking out opportunities for group work, and learning from and supporting one
another. The peer group was generally perceived more as a fact of life than as a
learning resource, and there was little reflection on how to make the best use of it.
This was interesting in relation to the views expressed by the teachers, who were
often enthusiastic about the potential of group learning experiences, but rarely
organized these as a regular part of their teaching (Gaunt, 2008).
The strongest views expressed a desire for more one-to-one tuition rather than less:
S11: I can’t think of a specific point that I feel that I’m missing just in terms of time, I
would like to have more, just more time, more lessons. If the whole week was filled with
twice or maybe four times as many … lessons that would be a good thing…. it would
give me a chance to repeat things …
This exposed some contradictions, in that the nature of music-making so often
requires a group, yet the students were particularly wanting to learn in the rarefied
context of one-to-one. It may be that this was because one-to-one tuition was some-
thing which they perceived to be a safe environment, and in which they could
actually be relatively passive as learners on account of the extent of individual input
24 Psychology of Music
they were getting from the teacher. Not only did nearly all the students tend to value
the opinions of the teachers more than those of their peers, in most cases they also
felt that they could learn more in one-to-one tuition than in a group. As one student
reported, it was much easier to get bored and to disengage in a class. In one-to-one
tuition it seemed that they had to work less hard themselves in terms of sustaining
motivation and the pace of learning. There was little need to shift in modes of think-
ing from performing to watching others, acting, reflecting, even thinking laterally
about others’ experiences. Essentially this was an easy environment in which to
learn, requiring less effort in terms of active engagement in assimilating and inte-
grating knowledge and skills.
However, a few students indicated that working in a chamber group really helped
them to learn. One student, for example, said that it made her question her own
ideas and thinking and realize that some of the ideas which came from her teacher
were not necessarily always right.
S6: Last year, I increasingly worked with my [chamber group], so there were four
people trying to think of one thing, and it has been tough at times because we have
got different ideas, it’s about who is right and what makes most sense, and because
inevitably we are all influenced by our own teachers, we tend to think then that our
way of thinking is the right thing … I have learned to accept, or she has managed to
accept as well that one can’t be too dogmatic about things …
The students’ perceptions of practising further illuminated their approaches
to learning. The need for practice, and for practice of good quality was a universal
basic assumption, yet few were proactively engaged in trying to improve their own
ways of practising, for example, through experimenting with different processes,
dis cussing it with peers, or recording and reflecting on their own habits. Despite
the considerable amount of research literature available on practising (see above),
students were not drawing on this, and were not able to identify many specific char-
acteristics of their effective practising skills.
One of the few students who was used to making plans in relation to practising
on a weekly basis, used this as an opportunity to reflect on what his teacher had said
in a lesson, and to work out how to build the recommendations into the practice
S2: I have quite a good memory, so I can remember things, and so I don’t really need
to take notes, but often on the train home I will get the music out and look at it, and
try and [think] … how I am going to practise, and I will often plan when, and how I am
going to do my practice …
Interestingly, the structure of the practice which this student identified reflected
the structure of the lessons. This was common to many of the students, and, for
example, the singers often followed the warm-up and technical exercises in exactly
the same format as the previous lesson, by singing along to a recording of the lesson:
S19: … basically it turns out that I do have a structure where I warm up, do the
exercises for 10 or 15 minutes and then get round to pieces.
The data showed that few students considered different possible processes
involved in practising, and they tended to be rather passive in their approach, rather
Gaunt: One-to-one tuition in a conservatoire 25
than conceiving of practising as a dynamic and creative process. They were not
particularly preoccupied or excited by the topic, although they were aware that they
practised in different ways from each other. Exceptions to this kind of attitude were
a few mature students, who articulated a clear understanding of some components
of effective practising, and were also proactive in asking teachers for help and advice
about it. One student talked about the ways in which his teacher might intervene to
help him improve his practice. Here he became conscious of how much the quality of
his practice could change:
S2: … this is why she is a good teacher, because I think it’s not so much telling you how
to play but telling you how to practise. And yes … she is very focused and has a very
problem-solving mind. I am more sort of all over the place … she will say ‘just practise
this bit’ in front of her and I will do it as best as I can, and she will say ‘oh no, you are
still sort of sliding around, and you could just have silence before you play’ …
Not all teachers, however, had much input into how their students should practise
according to the students, although this diverged from the opinions of the teachers
(Gaunt, 2008). Apart from the three students who reported that their teachers
asked them to demonstrate in a lesson how they would practise, there was no other
monitoring of the processes:
S4: I think he trusts that his students have the ability to practise themselves, and do the
most that they can.
The students in this study had diverse experiences in how one-to-one tuition was
structured, with some students having more frequent and longer lessons than
others, and some having more than one teacher at a time. Those with several
teachers appreciated the fact that this forced them to take more responsibility for
their own learning. They relished the varied perspectives and experiences which
different teachers brought to lessons, and the way in which these encouraged them
to weigh up points of view, and organize their personal time and the content of
lessons more effectively. Those with one teacher often highlighted the degree of trust
they had in this teacher and how this enabled them to make significant progress. A
larger study is needed to look systematically at ways in which instrumental/vocal
tuition is structured in Higher Education, and the impact of this on, for example,
the development of instrumental/vocal skill, motivation and autonomy in learning.
One implication from this study is that it may be appropriate to structure one-to-
one tuition such that more senior students are encouraged to go to several teachers,
particularly as they move towards professional life, and need to develop more
responsibility for their ongoing development.
All the students in this study were delighted with the current relationship(s)
they had with a teacher(s), even though they characterized these in different ways.
Unanimously they considered one-to-one tuition to be an extremely important part
of their work. They particularly appreciated the undivided attention it could offer,
the level of musical and technical detail which could be explored, and the chance to
learn at their own pace. However, there was some evidence that the overwhelmingly
26 Psychology of Music
positive views were partly determined by the nature of the one-to-one relationship
itself, with students investing a huge amount in it because it offered what they felt
was a comfortable learning environment and/or because they were in fact fearful
of what might happen should the relationship falter. This became apparent both
through the contrast between their positive views and their critical perceptions of
previous teachers, and through the difficulties they articulated in changing teachers
when things had not gone well.
It was also clear that students adopted similar opinions to those held by their
teachers about key aspects of the one-to-one relationship such as the social place of
the relationship and the ethical boundaries around the relationship, even though the
teachers by no means all held similar opinions. This alignment of views suggested
that students were creating as close a fit as possible to their current teacher, which
would probably preclude them from being overtly critical, and could impede the
expression of their own artistic voice. This feature of one-to-one tuition needs
further research, but is also something which would be a useful focus for teacher
professional development, building understanding of the one-to-one relationship,
and ways in which teachers can support students in avoiding becoming too closely
aligned with them.
In general the students displayed a rather passive attitude to planning and evalu-
ating their work. Beyond the concrete issue of which repertoire to prepare for which
performances, planning and evaluation was rarely an important part of lessons or
of practice time. This may be partly because the tradition of one-to-one tuition has
largely been self-replicating, without teachers being trained in educational processes,
and without being underpinned by a body of research. It may also be attributable
to the nature of learning in the one-to-one relationship which can encourage a
student to be relatively passive as a learner, waiting for input from the teacher
rather than taking a proactive approach to goal setting, exploration and reflection.
In this study it was clear that one-to-one tuition often provided students with an
alternative to assimilating different kinds of input, for example from several teachers
or from peers, which might raise conflicts and demand more difficult processes of
critical evaluation, planning and choice. This indicates again the importance of
understanding more about the nature of learning in a one-to-one relationship,
and the need both for professional development for instrumental/vocal teachers in
Higher Education, and for support with learning skills for students working in this
environment. For example, both students and teachers who have long histories of
engaging in one-to-one tuition, may need proactive encouragement to consider the
potential of peer learning and develop the skills to engage with this effectively.
The extraordinary investment of students in one-to-one tuition and the ways
in which this relationship seemed to be creating potential challenges in learning
suggests as well that more needs to be done in terms of reducing the isolation of
one-to-one tuition. In practical terms this can be extremely difficult as one-to-one
tuition is so often delivered by part-time staff with little connection to an institution
beyond their teaching hours. It seems likely, however, that finding ways to engage
these teachers in the more general direction of students’ studies: understanding the
content and structure of curricula, and contributing to the wider artistic and edu-
cational activity of an institution may have considerable pay-off in terms of enabling
Gaunt: One-to-one tuition in a conservatoire 27
students to make the most of the learning opportunities they have, including
engaging more effectively in one-to-one tuition itself.
For students, this study also showed that whilst practising was universally con-
sidered important, there was little awareness of research evidence which could have
direct impact on practice, and little awareness of the diverse approaches and tech-
niques which might be explored. Considerable development could be done to support
students in developing a range of effective approaches in practising, and in enabling
teachers to work with students in developing optimum techniques and structures in
relation to their particular needs at any time.
Overall this study showed that there is considerable potential in one-to-one
instrumental/vocal tuition and that it is highly valued by students. It also brought
to the surface a number of critical issues, demonstrating ways in which it can in fact
inhibit students, particularly in their development of autonomy as learners. These
issues indicate the need for professional development for teachers, consideration
of how learning environments are structured in relation to one-to-one tuition in
Higher Education, and the need for further research to build understanding about
the essential characteristics of one-to-one tuition.
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Can you give me some details about how you have come to be a student at the Guildhall
School, your previous musical education, and what stage you have got to here?
• Age
• Years learning
• Number of instruments
Gaunt: One-to-one tuition in a conservatoire 31
• Numbers of teachers
Point of study at the Guildhall School
Hours of lessons? One or more teachers?
Any teaching yourself?
Aims and objectives in learning
What are your most important aims as a student here at the Guildhall School?
What skills are most important to you?
What do you want to leave with?
• Projected career?
What is particular about 1–1, what do you get here which you can’t get anywhere else?
Current teacher
What happens in the lessons?
What does the teacher focus on?
Balance of input/discussion/playing between you and the teacher?
• Planning together?
The one-to-one relationship
What’s it like with your current teacher (previous teachers)?
Where are the boundaries?
What do you do when things go wrong?
How do you perceive your teacher, their professional profile, skill? How do you feel
about it, excited, demoralized, empowered … ?
What do you like most/least about your teacher?
Other teachers
Important aspects, different from/similar to current teacher?
Relationship between lessons and practice?
Other important areas of study?
Integration of 1–1 within the curriculum as a whole – classes, library, other students, outside
HELENA GAUNT is the Assistant Principal (Research and Academic Development) at
the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London. She is a professional oboist, has been a
member of the Britten Sinfonia and Garsington Opera, and has worked with, among others,
the orchestra of St Martin-in-the-Fields and the Composers’ Ensemble. She completed a PhD
at the Institute of Education, London University, in 2006, supervised by Professor Susan
Hallam. Her current research focuses on one-to-one tuition in conservatoires and the use
of improvisation (verbal and musical) in developing artistry, and on the motivation and
aspiration of students in conservatoires. In addition she chairs the Research group of the
Polifonia project for the Association of European Conservatoires (AEC) and the Innovative
Conservatoire (ICON) group. She lives in London and has five children.
Address: Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Barbican, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DT.
... 4. Support for practicing. Within the one-to-one model of tuition, teachers can help students with their practice, especially in their learning of techniques, such as recommending warm-ups and exercises to be performed prior to singing or playing that are based on the learner's current needs and circumstances (Gaunt, 2010). ...
... To support music students, in particular, to cope with their workload, it may be helpful for teachers to develop students' metacognitive abilities and psychological skills, teach methods of coping with performance anxiety, develop methods for delivering one-to-one tuition and more learner-centered teaching, and provide support for practicing. One-to-one tuition is essential in music education and is appreciated by music students but can limit learners' autonomy (Gaunt, 2010;López-Íñiguez et al., 2014). Problems can occur when teachers' practices and students' expectations diverge . ...
... * By one-to-one tuition we mean individual tuition, a key teaching and learning method in the instrumental and vocal training of musicians (Gaunt, 2010). ** By structure of student workload we mean organisation and management of a student's workload, such as the general description of student workload , the nature of student workload (Kember, 2003) and the meaning and components of student workload (Kyndt et al., 2014). ...
Full-text available
Over the past decades, the practices and policies of higher music education have been shaped by the rapid global changes affecting curricula, pedagogies, and students’ employability. At the same time, the rates of psychological distress and illness among students have been rising. Thus, higher music education institutions urgently need to understand music students’ experiences of workload, stress, and coping in order to support their learning, well-being, and future careers. Music students’ studying experiences differ from other students’ experiences, as part of studying music has specific characteristics deriving from the traditional master-apprentice model, such as one-to-one tuition, practising, and performing. As part of the cross-national Music Student Workload project in Finland and the United Kingdom, this article-based doctoral dissertation investigates music students’ experienced workload, stress, and coping. The four international peer-reviewed publications included here report on and synthesise the explanatory stage of the research project. Extended meta-ethnography was used to synthesise 29 qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods studies in the first article, which is a systematic review of the literature on students’—and particularly music students’—experienced workload. A transcendental phenomenological approach was combined with multistrategy methodology (quantitative and qualitative) when examining music students’ experienced workload and stress in connection to music students’ use of proactive coping styles in the second article, and in connection to music students’ life and livelihoods in the third article. A qualitative methodology was used in the fourth article, which recommends tools that teachers can use to support music students in managing and coping with their experienced workload. In the second, third, and fourth articles the data consisted of responses to the Workload, Stress, and Coping questionnaire from a total of 155 music students (108 in Finland and 47 in the United Kingdom), of which 29 participated in subsequent interviews. The results and findings were synthesised to make recommendations for students, teachers, administrators, and student health and well-being services as to how to deal with music students’ workload. It is recommended that good practices should be identified to support music students’ proactive coping skills in higher music education institutions. It is also crucial to find solutions to the unequal workload and stress experiences between low-income and well-off students, different genders, and different study programmes. In addition, teachers’ continuing professional development must be ensured, particularly in learner-centred pedagogical approaches. This dissertation recommends investments in longitudinal, cross-cultural, and interventional research on music students’ experiences that can inform educational policies and pedagogical practices in higher music education. Furthermore, specific challenges and resources associated with music students’ coping with workload and stress should be acknowledged in general educational theories concerning students’ workload.
... One-to-one teaching and learning in music higher education is central to the training and development of future professional musicians including singers (Gaunt 2008(Gaunt , 2010(Gaunt , 2011Carey and Grant 2015;King and Nix 2019;O'Bryan and Harrison 2014). In an era of growing accountability for the efficacy and efficiency of pedagogical practices (Carey et al. 2013;Carey and Grant 2015), one-to-one instrumental and singing studios have become the site of considerable research and evaluation activity since the early 2000s (e.g. ...
... In an era of growing accountability for the efficacy and efficiency of pedagogical practices (Carey et al. 2013;Carey and Grant 2015), one-to-one instrumental and singing studios have become the site of considerable research and evaluation activity since the early 2000s (e.g. Burwell 2006;Burwell 2016;Burwell 2021;Carey et al. 2013;Carey and Grant, 2015;Creech 2012;Gaunt, 2010;Gaunt, 2011;Gaunt et al. 2012;Mills 2002;Nerland 2007;Rakena et al. 2016). This increase in one-to-one research reflects the significance of the ongoing institutional support of this model to music performance researchers, educators, practitioners, and students alike. ...
... Despite Persson's calls for researchers from outside of the music field to conduct further research, one-to-one pedagogy research has largely been performed by insiders to the higher music education field. Gaunt's (2008Gaunt's ( , 2010Gaunt's ( , 2011 pioneering studies on the perceptions of students and teachers of one-to-one pedagogy at a specific site are an example of insider research. With a background as a performer, teacher, and employee of the institution used as the research location, Gaunt notes both the benefits and disadvantages of insider research. ...
One-to-one lessons based on the master-apprentice model are recognised in research and practice as an indispensable foundation for the training of professional musicians including singers. Given its primary importance to musician training, it is essential that researchers of this pedagogical model adopt methodologies and methods well-suited to illuminating the unique nature of one-to-one pedagogy. This article on methodology introduces multi-sited ethnography (MSFE) for one-to-one pedagogy research, exemplified through its use in a research project focused on one-to-one musical theatre singing voice pedagogy. MSFE is presented as ‘Big Q’ qualitative research approach which cohesively engages with epistemological, ontological, and methodological considerations facilitating the use of research methods which are well-suited to the private and ephemeral nature of the one-to-one lesson. MSFE is positioned as a research methodology which extends on and can address the challenges of extant research approaches in one-to-one pedagogy. MSFE is of particular use when researching participants across a broad cultural group (for example, studio teachers of a particular instrument or voice at multiple educational sites). We conclude with a discussion of the limitations of MSFE and make recommendations for further research.
... I denne sammenhengen er det interessant at Gaunt (2011) i en studie av hvordan studenter og laerere oppfatter relasjonen de inngår i i høyere musikkutdanning nner at relasjonen assosieres både med vennskap og med en foreldre-barn relasjon, riktignok i en britisk kontekst. 3 Hun fant at innslaget og betydningen av et personlig aspekt i relasjonen mellom laerer og student kan variere en god del, men at det ikke er uvanlig at undervisningsrelasjonen også har privat karakter (Gaunt, 2010). Dette korresponderer med Nerland (2004, s. 14) sin studie av instrumentalundervisning i høyere musikkutdanning som omtaler denne typen undervisning som «private praksiser» Intimiteten som utvikles i undervisningen gjør at det profesjonelle på sett og vis bli privat -og omvendt. ...
... Respekten er, som vi også har sett tidligere, knyttet til at det var snakk om en verdensstjerne -en stor kunstner. Interessant nok har tidligere forskning på mesterlaere i høyere musikkutdanning pekt på at en slags «halo e ect» påvirker relasjonen mellom laerer og studenter hvor laererens kunstneriske posisjon betyr at studentene har tillit til at laereren vet hva som er best for dem (Gaunt, 2010). Uttrykket spiller på at laerernes mesterstatus kan framstå som så ubestridt at det er vanskelig for studentene å di erensiere mellom denne statusen og ulike dimensjoner ved undervisningen. ...
... It is clear that in these learning cultures, the teachers have a central role in enabling these characteristics and have a profound impact on the students. While individual learningthe core of instrumental learning in higher education -is generally identified as an effective means for educating professional musicians (Carey & Grant, 2015;Gaunt, 2008;Gaunt, 2009), there are frequent criticisms of some aspects of the system, and calls for change (Demirbatir, 2015;Duffy, 2013;McWilliam et al., 2006). The established way of teaching in these institutions follows a master-apprentice model: a pronounced asymmetrical hierarchy which enables the authority figure, the teacher, to exercise profound control over the education of their students, and subsequently, the educational outcome (Gaunt, 2011;Haddon, 2009;Hyry-Beihammner, 2010;Kemp, 1996;Nerland, 2007). ...
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Musician’s Focal Dystonia (MFD) is a task-specific, neurological movement disorder affecting highly skilled musicians which disrupts the fine motor control of the movements necessary for playing an instrument. The understanding of the pathophysiology and aetiology is limited, resulting in the lack of reliable treatment strategies; therefore, full recovery is extremely rare. The multifactorial origins of the condition are acknowledged, yet the bulk of the research is conducted from a medical perspective, focusing on maladaptive neuroplasticity and the genetic setup of the sufferers. Following the initiative of more recent research which broadened the scope of the investigations, this thesis explores the condition from a holistic perspective, including psychosocial, psychological, and behavioural factors. To reach this goal, a large-scale mixed-method research study was planned with three distinct stages and methodologies which allowed the triangulation of the findings. The first, exploratory Grounded Theory interview study collected the life stories of 15 musicians affected by the disorder to identify potential risk factors. These findings informed the interview schedule of the second qualitative study, which was conducted with 14 practitioners who frequently work with musicians with MFD. This still subjective qualitative data provided information about a large in-direct sample, and insights into the ongoing treatment strategies. The identified risk factors then were tested in a quasi-experimental questionnaire study, comparing musicians with and without MFD. The triangulated findings indicate the musicians who were later affected by MFD had maladaptive psychological traits and cognitive strategies, exercised negative health and practice behaviours, and experienced traumatic events prior to the onset of the condition. Moreover, it was concluded that many seemingly individual maladaptive characteristics were prompted or aggravated by the social context, especially the educational and work environments. Implications for treatment approaches and preventative strategies and suggestions for further research are discussed in the final chapters of the work.
... They provide a learning space and place that allows students to feel safe to engage in being who they are as nascent and evolving musickers and they permit themselves the same possibility and freedom. It should be possible for teachers to act and talk in ways that provide spaces to foster and support increasing independence in their students, even in the constrained traditions of the nineteenth century conservatoire where teacher is master and student is indentured apprentice (Gaunt, 2010), and deviations from established guidelines are rarely tolerated (Moore, 1992). ...
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In trying to understand the complex interplay between effective learning and personal experience in instrumental music education we look to our own histories of becoming instrumental performers trained in conservatoires. We seek a collective fusion of horizons of possibility to explore the relationships of musicians, both learners and teachers, with each other and their environments. We adopt the post-qualitative turn, as it offers space and place for simmering curiosities, introspections, evaluations, and yearnings. As pondering individuals, we question how we were pulled and prodded through the acquisition of instrumental expertise. We are a trumpeter and a clarinetist; we are performers. We are also music educators who both re-enact and resist what was given to us as gospel. We hope to find within our thick and layered experiences, understandings of the better teacher we hope to become. We look beyond our “training” to our becoming both musicians and pedagogues, a work that remains in progress. We offer this pathway to our students—how can we/they become the better music educator?
... For example, Swanwick and Tillman's (1986) Spiral of Musical Development, which is one of the few published models of progression in composing, only theorises development up to the age 15 years (Anderson 2019;Swanwick 1994). Despite the abundance of research investigating instrumental teaching in higher music education (inter alia : Gaunt 2008;Juntunen 2014;McPhee 2011;Mills 2004Mills , 2006Mills and Smith 2003;Perkins 2013;Persson 1994;Presland 2005;Purser 2005), there exists very little research on the teaching and learning of composing, highlighting an 'urgent need' (Bennett et al. 2018, 237) for this research to take place. ...
In the study being reported here, heads of composition at a selection of music conservatoires (n = 6) in the UK were invited to share their experiences of teaching composition. Arising from the analysis of interview data, three main themes, termed 'pedagogical goals', emerged as important for undergraduate and postgraduate students to progress as composers. These included: becoming independent learners; developing one’s own compositional voice; and building confidence. Findings revealed that these three themes and the pedagogical tools used to achieve them could create tensions between student expectations of what they believed traditional composition teaching to be. On top of this, the interviewees reported having to navigate increasingly neoliberal higher education policy and performativity measures such as the emphasis on student satisfaction, employability and the rising sense of competition between institutions, causing them to reflect on their role as professional educators. Implications for practice are highlighted, particularly around how conflicting priorities and expectations within creative subjects such as composing can in turn create pedagogical conflict. This calls for further research on how composers learn and develop, especially within higher music education contexts.
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O ensino formal de instrumentos musicais ainda está bastante vinculado a um paradigma didático que se alicerça na repetição mecânica e na formatação de estereótipos, amiúde alheios às motivações internas dos alunos. Essa abordagem invariavelmente estabelece poucas conexões com outras subdisciplinas da área da Música. Diante desse quadro, o presente trabalho propõe-se a discutir acerca de abordagens e ferramentas pedagógicas, baseadas nos princí­pios de problematização e estí­mulo à criatividade. Incentivando a adoção de uma postura criticamente ativa e de decisões tomadas de forma refletida e consciente, visa-se assegurar a autonomia e o respeito à identidade de cada estudante enquanto objetivos de primeira ordem, articulando tanto suas preferências estéticas quanto suas aptidões técnicas, para que elas possam protagonizar a construção de seus próprios saberes. Almeja-se ainda diluir a dicotomia entre o processo de aprendizagem e a performance "propriamente dita" , propondo antes que ambas as formas estão inseridas em um mesmo contí­nuo. Destarte, questões concernentes aos aspectos do "como" e "porquê" tornar-se-ão tão relevantes quanto "o que" se realiza. Para a realização da parte empí­rica da pesquisa, este estudo utilizou o método de investigação-ação educacional, que contou com a colaboração de seis violonistas estudantes provenientes de instituições universitárias brasileiras e portuguesa. Os resultados obtidos a partir do consenso intersubjetivo entre os agentes envolvidos (aluno e professor) naquele contexto especí­fico, constituem possibilidades de experimentar outras maneiras de se ensinar instrumentos musicais no âmbito das instituições formais.
Health education encompasses building health knowledge, but also training skills such as critical thinking, that guide individuals’ ability to access, understand and use health information to take care of their own health (WHO, 1998). This study aimed to document expert discussions on the content of an ideal health education curriculum for higher music education (HME) students in the UK, integrating critical thinking. Four interdisciplinary workshops were conducted, where 67 experts in relevant fields discussed the content of four lists created based on literature reviews (cognitive biases, logical fallacies, critical appraisal tools and health topics). Notes taken during the discussions were thematically analysed. Most of the participants thought that the topics and tools were relevant. Two of four identified themes are reported in this paper, which represents the first of a two-part series: (1) critical thinking applied to health; and (2) misconceptions. This is the first attempt to document conversations aimed at using the applied knowledge of key stakeholders to discuss the content of an ideal health education curriculum integrating critical thinking, for conservatoire students.
Although health education programmes have been implemented in higher music education (HME) and their evaluations published in peer-reviewed journals, guidelines as to what ought to be included in these programmes are still missing. This study aimed to document expert discussions on the content of an ideal health education curriculum for HME students in the UK, integrating critical thinking. Four interdisciplinary workshops were conducted, where 67 experts in relevant fields took part, and were asked to discuss four lists of topics and concepts created based on literature reviews (cognitive biases, logical fallacies, critical appraisal tools and health topics). Only the list on health topics is relevant here. Notes taken by the participants and ourselves were thematically analysed. Four themes were identified, two of which are reported in this paper: (i) The health education curriculum and (ii) A settings-based approach to health. Part I of this project (published elsewhere) is focussed on the critical thinking content of health education for conservatoire students. The present paper focusses on the ideal health education curriculum and its implications for the wider context of health promotion.
This study focuses on the role of feedback in teaching with particular emphasis on its effect on learner performance, motivation, and self-regulation. A critical account of feedback and applicable models highlight conceptual guidelines of how individual, relational, and environmental factors can impact on the utility of feedback as a performance changing device, and reasons for theory–practice disjunction. A qualitative methodology investigated 25 instrumental music teachers in Victoria, Australia, realizing the effect of studio teaching feedback on students from teachers’ perspectives and recollections of their studio teaching practice. Knowledge and skills, positive attribution, and music and relational qualities are reported through these reflections of feedback, feed-up, and feed-forward approaches to student engagement. The study highlights positive feedback encounters are typified by learner engagement and teacher–student relationality, contesting the traditional, behaviorist “feedback ritual” and teacher-centered approaches in the music lesson. The study offers implications for purposeful and structured learning opportunities, and cyclical engagement that builds impactful feedback episodes and feedback design that factors in the influence of context, culture, and differentiated relationships in learning. The study encourages educators to consider balance of “drill and thrill,” where feedback is embedded as an influential pedagogical/relational device, rather than discreet episodes of educators “telling” learners about their performance.
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This article reports qualitative findings of an interview study in which 42 students ( aged 10–18 ) from a specialist music school were encouraged to talk about various experiences in their lives which the individual children perceived as having been potentially significant influences on their progress in learning musical instruments. The parents of half the children were also interviewed. Observations concerning the following sources of influence are reported: the family background; sibling influences; listening to music. The insights of children and their parents, which complement and add depth to quantitative findings concerning the biographical precursors of musical excellence, help to provide a rich source of descriptive information about the circumstances in which children become competent young musicians.
This accessible guide for students, teachers and performers at all levels unravels the complexities of musical performance and focuses on key aspects of learning, playing and responding to music. A survey of performance through the ages leads to a presentation of basic historical, analytical and psychological concepts. Four chapters follow on teaching, development, practice and memorisation. The next section considers the 'translation' from score to sound, physical projection, ensemble playing and performance anxiety. The final section addresses the act of listening, the legacy of recordings, music criticism and 'performers on performance'.
This book offers new perspectives and practical guidance for enhancing performance and managing the stress that typically accompanies performance situations. Specific recommendations are provided alongside comprehensive reviews of existing theory and research, enabling the practitioner to place the strategies and techniques within the broader context of human performance, and encouraging novel ways of conceptualizing music making and teaching. Part I sets out ground rules for achieving musical excellence. What roles do innate talent, environmental influences, and sheer hard work play in attaining eminence? How can musicians best manage the physical demands of a profession that is intrinsically arduous, throughout a career that can literally span a lifetime? How can performers, teachers, and researchers effectively assess and reflect on performance enhancement for themselves, their colleagues, and their students? Part II presents approaches for increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of practice. These are examined generally for the individual and ensembles and specifically for the tasks of memorizing, sight-reading, and improvising music. Musicians spend vast amounts of time and energy acquiring and refining their skills, but are there particular rehearsal strategies that they can employ to produce better performance results or to achieve the same results more quickly? What implication does existing knowledge of human information processing and physical functioning have for musical learning and practice? Part III introduces scientifically validated methods for enhancing musical achievement, ordered from the more physical to the psychological to the pharmacological; however, they all address issues of both mental and physical significance for the musician. Collectively, they stand as clear evidence that applied, cross-disciplinary research can facilitate musicians' strives for performance excellence.
Preface Part I. Foundations of Research 1. Science, Schooling, and Educational Research Learning About the Educational World The Educational Research Approach Educational Research Philosophies Conclusions 2. The Process and Problems of Educational Research Educational Research Questions Educational Research Basics The Role of Educational Theory Educational Research Goals Educational Research Proposals, Part I Conclusions 3. Ethics in Research Historical Background Ethical Principles Conclusions 4. Conceptualization and Measurement Concepts Measurement Operations Levels of Measurement Evaluating Measures Conclusions 5. Sampling Sample Planning Sampling Methods Sampling Distributions Conclusions Part II. Research Design and Data Collection 6. Causation and Research Design Causal Explanation Criteria for Causal Explanations Types of Research Designs True Experimental Designs Quasi-Experimental Designs Threats to Validity in Experimental Designs Nonexperiments Conclusions 7. Evaluation Research What Is Evaluation Research? What Can an Evaluation Study Focus On? How Can the Program Be Described? Creating a Program Logic Model What Are the Alternatives in Evaluation Design? Ethical Issues in Evaluation Research Conclusions 8. Survey Research Why Is Survey Research So Popular? Errors in Survey Research Questionnaire Design Writing Questions Survey Design Alternatives Combining Methods Survey Research Design in a Diverse Society Ethical Issues in Survey Research Conclusions 9. Qualitative Methods: Observing, Participating, Listening Fundamentals of Qualitative Research Participant Observation Intensive Interviewing Focus Groups Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Methods Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research Conclusions 10. Single-Subject Design Foundations of Single-Subject Design Measuring Targets of Intervention Types of Single-Subject Designs Analyzing Single-Subject Designs Ethical Issues in Single-Subject Design Conclusions 11. Mixing and Comparing Methods and Studies Mixed Methods Comparing Reserch Designs Performing Meta-Analyses Conclusions 12. Teacher Research and Action Research Teacher Research: Three Case Studies Teacher Research: A Self-Planning Outline for Creating Your Own Project Action Research and How It Differs From Teacher Research Validity and Ethical Issues in Teacher Research and Action Research Conclusions Part III. Analyzing and Reporting Data 13. Quantitative Data Analysis Why We Need Statistics Preparing Data for Analysis Displaying Univariate Distributions Summarizing Univariate Distributions Relationships (Associations) Among Variables Presenting Data Ethically: How Not to Lie With Statistics Conclusions 14. Qualitative Data Analysis Features of Qualitative Data Analysis Techniques of Qualitative Data Analysis Alternatives in Qualitative Data Analysis Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Ethics in Qualitative Data Analysis Conclusions 15. Proposing and Reporting Research Educational Research Proposals, Part II Reporting Research Ethics, Politics, and Research Reports Conclusions Appendix A: Questions to Ask About a Research Article Appendix B: How to Read a Research Article Appendix C: Finding Information, by Elizabeth Schneider and Russell K. Schutt Appendix D: Table of Random Numbers Glossary References Author Index Subject Index About the Authors