University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Developing Expertise: Effective Pedagogy for Talented Young Singers

Hewston, Ruth and Cadwallader, S. (2007) Developing Expertise: Effective Pedagogy for Talented Young Singers. In: 3rd Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology (CIM07), 15th - 19th August 2007, Tallinn, Estonia.

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Background in music education: Hargreaves (1996) proposed a conceptual model based on two dimensions and approaches to music education. The two orthogonal dimensions were labelled as ‘specialist-generalist’ and ‘control-autonomy’. As with many countries, England has a tradition of specialist education, within which talented pupils are given tuition to reach high levels of musical achievement. The other distinction has been labelled as ‘control-autonomy’ and reflects the teachers educational practices. In considering the two dimensions as orthogonal, it is possible to consider particular pedagogical and/or musical techniques within each of the four quadrants.

Background in music psychology: Studies investigating extrinsic reinforces on music learning have found that the perceptions of teacher approval, teachers behavioural techniques, modelling techniques, shaping techniques and notational symbol learning have all been shown to have significant effects on student’s musical achievement and learning. Music education should clearly have a firm foundation in developmental psychology. The objectives of music education involve the breakdown of musical skills into their cognitive, affective, and psychomotor components, and in order to evaluate these objectives efficiently it is necessary to drawn upon psychological assessment procedures. Psychological theories have an obviously central role to play in the formulation of evaluation of effective methods and pedagogies.

Aims: The purpose of this paper is to identify and illustrate effective pedagogy for talented young singers attending choir schools within a whole school context and to draw appropriate lessons for practice.

Main contribution: This is an entirely case study based approach to understanding effective pedagogy. These case studies focus on the effect of the teaching. Existing case studies in the field of music education, particularly of exceptionally talented young musicians have shown little focus on learning.

Method: Two initial case studies are drawn from choir schools in England. The choir schools offer students both first-class schooling and musical training. The two schools were selected to represent differing geographical areas and school types. Drawing from models of school effectiveness research, the research design developed a multi-layer approach to investigating in depth the interaction of a range of school-wide factors (such as leadership, school climate, and school policies), with classroom and musical training factors (such as teaching methods, teacher expectations, and classroom/training organisation), with individual pupil factors (including self-concept, engagement, and musical achievement) (Brookover et al., 1979, cited in Campbell et al. (2004), p.7). Rich, detailed and contextualised case material was produced, to help theorise about the pedagogy and to enable lessons to be drawn across the cases as well as within them.

Data: As a basis for the case studies, factual information, most of which was available in the public domain was gathered, including school location, catchment area, social-origins of pupils, number on roll, funding, staffing profile, and inspection reports. A further three data strands, or ‘layers’ were then identified as the main focus of each study visit (1) a whole school approach: policy, ethos and learning environment, (2) meeting the needs of musically able choristers: programmes, pedagogy and practice, and (3) pupil perceptions, performance and progress.

Conclusions: A culture of valuing the whole pupil, not just musical and vocal achievement, is interesting as both schools have students who display high levels of musical accomplishment. It is worth examining whether a focus on the holistic needs of students and support for multiple aspects of success is an environment which has enabled students to continue to develop their vocal and musical skills at such exceptional levels.

Implications: Effective pedagogy for musically talented students could benefit from this work, suggesting that a holistic focus and process to music education may enable students to be successful in musical and academic areas. Further research is needed before models of talent development could be developed to include appropriate and effective pedagogy for teaching and learning. The individual pupil factors of self-concept and motivation appear central to the proposed model. Future research requires psychologists and educationalists to work together in order for the multi-layer approach to investigating effective pedagogy to be further understood. There is also a need for researchers to examine such a holistic approach to music pedagogy for other instruments.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: music education, music psychology, musical skills, musical achievement, music pedagogy
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
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Depositing User: Ruth Hewston
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2015 10:14
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:03

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