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Title: The art of practice : learning through the looking-glass : understanding the musical learning of popular and classical undergraduate musicians based upon their reflections about their experiences of a UK university performance course
Author: Esslin-Peard, M. S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 6474
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2017
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Much has been written in the last 30 years about musical practice and performance, but there is little consensus over what practice really means, or how musicians progress by practising. Researchers tend to focus on specific elements in practice rather than taking a more holistic perspective. Whilst academics historically focused on (primarily Western) classical musicians, more recent research has focused upon popular, jazz and folk musicians, drawing on formal and informal learning models. This research project at the University of Liverpool focuses on the practice and performance experiences of both popular and classical undergraduate musicians as described in students’ reflective essays, acquired through informed consent. The method of assessment, combining 70% of marks for performance and 30% of marks for the reflective essay is, as far as can be ascertained, unique in comparable higher education institutions. The research questions address the roles of practice, performance and reflection in musical learning: • What experiences of practice and performance do the students describe in their reflective essays? • Do students develop an understanding of their practice and performance behaviours through their reflective essays? If so, how? • What role does reflection play in musical learning? Musical learning takes place not only through individual practice, but also in ensembles and bands, supported by feedback from tutors and peers and is firmly situated in the socio-cultural environment of the university and the city of Liverpool. Longitudinal findings suggest that classical and popular musicians start their performance studies with quite different musical experiences and expectations, dependent upon their prior learning. However, the process of writing an annual reflective essay seems to encourage students to think more critically about their practice and performance behaviours and they ask ‘How am I ... ’ or ‘How are we practising?’ which may lead to the adoption of a range of metacognitive practice strategies. The research findings point towards a validation of written reflection combined with performance as an appropriate method for assessing student musicians. Reflective practice acted as a unifying element between the popular and classical musicians. This study provides a contribution to knowledge for tertiary and secondary music educators, scholars and those involved in higher education course design.
Supervisor: Shorrocks, T. ; Welch, G. F. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral