Creative learning and 'original' music
Project overview | Project narrative | Workshops | Questionnaires | Fieldwork |Outputs
This project is exploring the means by which creativity and originality in musical performance are fostered in the teaching studio and practice room.
Focusing on advanced
students at the Guildhall
School of Music & Drama and the Royal
College of Music, the research is interrogating conceptual
constructions of creativity and originality in relation to performance, both of which are diversely defined in both practical and theoretical contexts.
The project is addressing six research questions:
- What qualities are thought to connote originality in given
types of performance?
- How do notions of originality vary
across different performance traditions, instruments, and
teachers or learners?
- What teaching and learning techniques
are most conducive to transmitting the musical skills and
knowledge required to surpass the routine and predictable
in musical performance?
- Should originality necessarily be
considered the most important artistic goal for each and
- Is originality compatible with the interpretative
traditions that many musicians feel inspired or obliged to
- How can the knowledge and skill acquired in the
teaching studio, practice room and classroom be used to maximum
benefit in performance?
To address these questions, two postdoctoral Research Fellows - Dr Mirjam James and Dr Karen Wise - have carried out fieldwork at the Guildhall
School and RCM
using a range of methods such as questionnaires, interviews, focus-group discussions, practice diaries, observations of teachers and their students, and 'video recall'. Their work during the three-year project has produced longitudinal data on teaching
practices and rehearsal, in an attempt to shed light on the outcomes of
given techniques as against intended purpose.
The aims, then, are to describe current practices, the values and assumptions that underlie them, and their outcomes and perceived effectiveness, and to work towards the development of a performance curriculum
in which students may aspire to, and attain, a heightened
sense of musical inspiration as well as greater expertise.
The three project workshops have been designed to involve not only scholarly experts but also teachers and students at the RCM
School as well as select specialists working
in different environments and/or performance traditions. Two of them also involved practitioners outside the Western classical sphere.
An AHRC case study focusing on this project is available here. The project is prominently featured in the CMPCP film, and a case study based on it appears on the AHRC website.