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Engaging with music What is good instrumentalvocal teaching

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Title: Engaging with music What is good instrumentalvocal teaching


1
Engaging with music What is good
instrumental/vocal teaching?
  • Janet Mills
  • Royal College of Music
  • jmills_at_rcm.ac.uk

2
Acknowledgements
  • Eight LEA music services
  • Jan Smith
  • Higher Education Funding Council for England
    (HEFCE)

3
  • Context
  • Research questions
  • The study
  • Results
  • Conclusions
  • Questions!

4
British Journal of Music Education
  • Teachers beliefs about effective
    instrumental teaching in schools and higher
    education
  • Janet Mills and Jan Smith
  • BJME 2003 20(1) 5-27
  • www.journals.cup.org

5
Seven research studies
Observation of school teaching during 23
inspections or reviews of LEA music services
182 conservatoire students writing
Questionnaires from 134 LEA instrumental teachers
about schools and HE
Instrumental teaching
Interviews of 150 conservatoire teachers
Questionnaires from 60 conservatoire students
about the instrumental teaching they give
Observation of conservatoire teaching (ongoing)
Learning to perform instrumentalists and
instrumental teachers
6
All this is part of a bigger picture
  • Not interested only in instrumental teaching
    these days!
  • Schools and curriculum music and beyond
  • Youth Music
  • Work overseas

7
What makes instrumental teaching effective?
  • Many ways of trying to answer this question
    including
  • OFSTED criteria
  • Lessons I have seen
  • The framework of Common Approach 2002
  • Teachers beliefs

8
Research questions
  • What do instrumental teachers believe to be the
    hallmarks of effective teaching in schools and in
    HE?
  • To what extent are teachers beliefs about
    effective teaching influenced by the teaching
    that they recall receiving?
  • What do teachers consider to be the most
    challenging aspects of their work?
  • Do teachers answers to any of these questions
    vary according to factors including gender,
    qualifications, or the music service for which
    they work?

9
The study
  • Eight volunteer music services
  • Semi-structured questionnaire (Autumn 2001)
  • Just talking about first 4
    questions today….
  • 134 responses
  • Teachers responded at length, providing us with
    very rich considered data for analysis
  • We coded each phrase of the teachers writing,
    checking between ourselves for consistency, and
    extending the range of codes when necessary. We
    aimed to capture as much as possible of the
    quality and detail of what teachers had written.

10
The 134 teachers
  • Principal instruments strings (45), woodwind
    (35), keyboard (22), brass (13), percussion (6),
    voice (6), other (7)
  • Teach up to 6 instruments. 93 (69) teach 2
  • 74 (55) have QTS
  • Teachers with QTS teach more instruments

11
Results
  • Q1 Thinking of teachers and pupils in general,
    what do you consider to be the hallmarks of good
    instrumental teaching of pupils of school age?
  • Teacher A
  • Trying to lay the foundations for good
    technique and habits, while trying to keep
    lessons fun and interesting. Pupils should enjoy
    playing but expect to work hard, practise
    regularly at home and be shown how to do it (Do
    we show pupils how to practise enough?). They
    should learn to play fluently and expressively
    and have opportunities to perform solos, play in
    small groups, and in larger orchestras.
  • 68 words 5 hallmarks enthusiasm technical
    focus pupil has fun practice skills
    performance opportunities.

12
  • Q1 Thinking of teachers and pupils in general,
    what do you consider to be the hallmarks of good
    instrumental teaching of pupils of school age?
  • Teacher B
  • Enthusiasm. Able to relate to children.
    Sensitive to individual needs. Use of popular
    tunes. Encouragement.
  • 15 words 5 hallmarks enthusiasm
    communication match wide repertoire
    praise/positive.
  • Teacher C
  • Being approachable, communicating well. Making
    lessons fun. Giving good descriptive teaching
    both for technical and musical ideas. Allowing
    the pupil some autonomy in the way their lesson
    goes e.g. would you like to play top or bottom
    in the duet? What do you feel needs most
    attention in this piece? Teaching with humour.
    Also, play and response work is brilliant for
    keeping people responsive and aurally switched
    on.
  • 67 words 5 hallmarks communication pupil
    has fun pupil participates sense of humour
    listening skills.

13
Most popular hallmarks
  • Enthusiastic teacher 50
  • Knowledgeable teacher 43
  • Communicative teacher 40
  • Fun for pupils 27
  • Teaching matched to pupils 24
  • Praise/positive teacher 24

14
  • Q2 Again in general, what do you consider to be
    the hallmarks of good instrumental teaching in
    higher education, for example in a conservatoire?
  • Teacher A (HE)
  • The development of a good technique as a means
    to play musically and expressively. To encourage
    exploration and initiative but give clear
    guidance on how to work and what is expected. To
    play and perform as much as possible in different
    sorts of music solo, ensemble, orchestra,
    other.
  • 48 words 6 hallmarks technical focus
    develop individual voice practice skills pupil
    participation performance opportunities wide
    repertoire
  • Teacher A (School)
  • Trying to lay the foundations for good technique
    and habits, while trying to keep lessons fun and
    interesting. Pupils should enjoy playing but
    expect to work hard, practise regularly at home
    and be shown how to do it (Do we show pupils how
    to practise enough?). They should learn to play
    fluently and expressively and have opportunities
    to perform solos, play in small groups, and in
    larger orchestras.
  • 68 words 5 hallmarks enthusiasm technical
    focus pupil has fun practice skills
    performance opportunities.
  • Enthusiasm. Able to relate to children.
    Sensitive to individual needs. Use of popular
    tunes. Encouragement.
  • 15 words 5 hallmarks enthusiasm
    communication match wide repertoire
    praise/positive.
  • Teacher C
  • Being approachable, communicating well. Making
    lessons fun. Giving good descriptive teaching
    both for technical and musical ideas. Allowing
    the pupil some autonomy in the way their lesson
    goes e.g. would you like to play top or bottom
    in the duet? What do you feel needs most
    attention in this piece? Teaching with humour.
    Also, play and response work is brilliant for
    keeping people responsive and aurally switched
    on.
  • 67 words 5 hallmarks communication pupil
    has fun pupil participates sense of humour
    listening skills.

15
  • Q2 Again in general, what do you consider to be
    the hallmarks of good instrumental teaching in
    higher education, for example in a conservatoire?
  • Teacher B (HE)
  • Technique. Variety and breadth of styles.
    Encourage individual interpretation.
  • 9 words 3 hallmarks technical focus wide
    repertoire develop individual voice.
  • Teacher B (School)
  • Enthusiasm. Able to relate to children.
    Sensitive to individual needs. Use of popular
    tunes. Encouragement.
  • 15 words 5 hallmarks enthusiasm
    communication match wide repertoire
    praise/positive.

16
  • Q2 Again in general, what do you consider to be
    the hallmarks of good instrumental teaching in
    higher education, for example in a conservatoire?
  • Teacher C (HE)
  • Giving good background to the style / character
    of a piece. Clear, easily understood technique
    teaching that enables the pupil to take off with
    their own musical ideas. Supporting the pupil
    and giving positive support when they experiment
    musically.
  • 39 words 4 hallmarks knowledge technical
    focus develop individual voice praise/positive.
  • Teacher C(School)
  • Being approachable, communicating well. Making
    lessons fun. Giving good descriptive teaching
    both for technical and musical ideas. Allowing
    the pupil some autonomy in the way their lesson
    goes e.g. would you like to play top or bottom
    in the duet? What do you feel needs most
    attention in this piece? Teaching with humour.
    Also, play and response work is brilliant for
    keeping people responsive and aurally switched
    on.
  • 67 words 5 hallmarks communication pupil
    has fun pupil participates sense of humour
    listening skills.

17
The top 10 in schools and HE
18
  • While the school rankings of teachers with and
    without QTS are similar, those for HE often
    differ.
  • The greater commonality of views re school may
    reflect the impact of INSET provided by LEAs.

19
HE ranks of teachers with/without QTS
20
  • Q3 Please reflect on the teaching that you
    received on your main teaching instrument,
    consider how well it worked for you, and complete
    a table to show its main strengths and
    weaknesses.
  • Teachers completed this table for teaching
    while at school and teaching after leaving
    school. Whereas Qs 1-2 related to their
    beliefs, Q3 relates to their recollections.
  • There was generally only a weak link between
    teachers beliefs and recollections. This
    finding challenges the anecdotal view that
    teachers teach as they were taught.
  • Teacher As recollections, like his/her beliefs,
    emphasised technical focus, but Teacher C was
    more typical.

21
Teacher C
22
Strengths and weaknesses of teaching recalled
from time at school
Some strengths (e.g. enthusiastic teacher) do not
have a balancing weakness
23
  • Q4 Do you remember a single lesson that was
    particularly effective for you as as student? If
    so, please explain its content and focus, and
    what made it particularly effective.
  • Much closer link between responses to
    this question and
    teachers
    beliefs.

24
  • Teacher A
  • When I was first made to really listen to
    intonation instead of just thinking I was. My
    teacher told me to listen to the intonation of
    each note that she played, I found I listened
    much more carefully and analytically than I did
    to myself, by playing a passage slowly being
    very fussy (changing experimenting) could
    improve intonation.

25
  • Teacher C
  • It wasnt exactly a lesson but a
    masterclass made up of people the same as me (at
    the time) preparing for college auditions.
    Experiencing very clear technical advice that
    enabled me to play the music how I wanted then
    watching someone else receiving the same kind of
    help was very helpful.

26
Conclusions
  • Instrumental teachers emerge from this study as
    highly committed and professional individuals,
    determined to provide effectively for the wide
    range of pupils that they teach
  • The link between special lessons and beliefs is
    reminiscent of John Slobodas references to peak
    experience
  • This also ties in with some research at the RCM
    on special lessons received by students
  • In order to influence further teachers beliefs,
    it may help to alternate INSET on OFSTED
    criteria, Common Approach, what makes a good
    lesson etc, with some first class music making
    or even some instrumental lessons from time to
    time
  • This is all about engaging with music for
    teachers as well as pupils.

27
After the research
  • We sent each of the 8 music services a summary of
    their data, compared with that for the whole
    sample. Some used this to guide INSET
  • We wrote brief user-friendly resumés for two
    service newsletters
  • Using the findings to structure some INSET at the
    RCM
  • We are making our questionnaire available to
    other LEA music services
  • We are ready to experiment with producing a
    structured version of the questionnaire. This
    would be much faster to process.

28
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