Secondary school pupils' conceptions of music in and out of school : conforming or conflicting meanings
This thesis explores the various musical conceptions of contemporary secondary pupils. Today, musical production and consumption are rapidly increasing and dominating the lives of most young people. At the same time, music educators are challenged with the continuing unpopularity of music in the classroom. Despite the inclusive framework upon which the National Curriculum is based, music in schools remains meaningless to a number of pupils. While efforts have been made to understand the various relationships that pupils have with music, there is a need to ground this knowledge within the subjective views and perceptions of the pupils. Inspired by a combination of approaches (the pupil voice, phenomenography, constructivist-interpretivist), this research aims to provide a contemporary empirical exploration of pupils' relationship to music. Phenomenography upholds that individual pupils' conceptions of particular school subjects can inform educators about the teaching and learning strategies that we should develop. This research builds critically upon that position, in order to map, compare and contrast the various conceptions that pupils hold towards music. It furthermore sets out to gain insight into the pupils' present musical desires and needs by asking them to construct their ideal curriculum for music. The study explored the views of eightyseven pupils from six schools across England, through a series of in-depth interviews held within the school site. From this larger sample, data from thirty-four pupils were selected for detailed analysis and presentation in this thesis. One of the main claims which this thesis argues is that school music's popularity is dependent on the degree to which pupils' own musical meanings are incorporated into the classroom. Findings suggest that the pupils' conceptions of music comprise six categories, each of which relate to the use and value it serves in their lives. I refer to these conceptions as their musical meanings. It was also found that whilst the pupils' conceptions of school music do not relate to their musical meanings, their ideal curriculum for music acted as a gateway within which their musical meanings were offered access. This thesis aims to contribute to the extant literature by providing a contemporary empirical basis through which to critically explore the musical conceptions of young people in relation to education. It aims to suggest a new path for discovery in music education, opening the door to further investigation.