Teachers' perceptions of musicality and its contexts : a study of piano pedagogy in Athenian conservatoires
This thesis explores the ways in which a number of prominent Greek piano teachers and performers perceive and define 'musicality' and how they regard contextual issues that impinge upon their work. Seven influential piano teachers in Greece, explain their teaching strategies and reveal their hidden 'theories' of musicality in detailed semistructured interviews. The interviews were based on a number of teaching episodes in Athenian conservatories and were selected from 200 hours of videotaped piano lessons with the interviewees and their piano students. Among the themes that emerge from the interviews are (a) the impact of students' family background as regards their musicianship, (b) the complex interpersonal relationships which are developed in the conservatory between the piano teacher and the learner, (c) the 'politics' of the conservatory as regards the balance between making a profit and pursuing musicianship, (d) the notion of the 'talented' and 'untalented' piano student, (e) the relation between piano students' musical dexterity and their musical expressiveness, and (f) the difficulties of studying western music in a societal and musical context which historically has not been influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment. At a further level of analysis, the mosaic of ideas on musicality expressed by the interviewees is approached and interpreted with the help of Swanwick's framework of musical knowledge development. This comprises four layers of musical development: the layer of 'materials', of 'expressive character', of 'form', and of 'values'. In each layer there is also an 'individual', and a 'social' dimension. This framework is not purely psychological but has philosophical and educational dimensions. The main contribution of the current thesis is the identification of the major elements of Swanwick' theory in otherwise fragmented 'theories' of seven Greek piano teachers. Although the ideas expressed by the interviewees cannot be generalised to a wider population of piano teachers within the positivistic meaning of the term 'generalisation', they do connect through their relationship with the work of Swanwick and others into a coherent perspective. These findings are also valuable in that they give us insights into the world of contemporary Greek piano education and the otherwise closely guarded secrets of piano pedagogy.