University of Gothenburg

Research specialisations in music education and arts education

These research focuses are oriented around teaching and learning in the arts in formal and informal learning environments.

Research in the arts is didactically oriented and targets learning and teaching in schools and teacher education.

Music education is a broader subject covering all forms of education, teaching, influence and training, where music is included along with musical learning and its preconditions in informal contexts and where learning is not in focus.

Both internationally and nationally, research in music education and educational sciences point both to questions connected to central pedagogical problem complexes and to how artistic ability is shaped within the artistic practice.

Photo: Natalie Greppi

Research strategy for music education and research within the field of arts education

The Academy of Music and Drama has two research and third-cycle subject areas focused on learning and teaching in the artistic field. The subject of music education, along with the subject of arts education, has a scholarly foundation. Historically, music education emerged from musicology and the shared department for what was then the School of Music and musicology in the mid-1980s, and was established as a third-cycle subject area in the year 2000. The emergence of the subject can be traced from a need for the development of knowledge and a research connection of musical and music education practice.

Music education as an academic field studies all forms of musical learning, including the frameworks, conditions, traditions and terms that govern these situations, in which music comprises the content of the various learning processes. Thus problems are addressed in a context in which music is included or has been included in training, education, teaching and other influences exerted in a given cultural situation.

As a research field, music education is cross-disciplinary in nature and uses theories and methods from, for example, pedagogy, psychology, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, musicology and artistic research to understand and explain the phenomenon of music education. The general profile within the third-cycle subject of music education can most closely be characterised as professional research with a focus on music teachers’ and musicians’ educational practices of various forms. As a rule, doctoral students and researchers in the subject Researchers on the subject usually have a music teacher education and have professional experience as both music teachers and/or as practicing musicians at a high artistic level. This entrance to doctoral studies in the subject means that music teaching in higher music education and in professional music life are common research areas. An additional area in the research is the subject-didactic focus, where the relationship between music and pedagogy/didactics is an essential point of departure.

Music education is academically related to the department’s other research and third-cycle subject area, arts education, a subject formed in 2005, and which is in two of the faculty’s departments, the Academy of Music and Drama and the Academy of Design and Crafts (HDK). Unlike music education, the subjects are delineated from one another because dissertation projects in the subject of the arts take precedence, with a focus on didactic questions associated with the arts teaching of preschool/school or teacher education. Music education is a broader subject and covers all kinds of education, teaching, influences and training of which music is a part. Music education involves primarily higher artistic education, such as musician training and music teacher training, but also learning and teaching outside of formal teaching contexts. The differences with regard to research in different practices between the subjects are complemented by the focus of music education on musical practice, unlike the more didactically oriented research of the arts.

Photo: Johan Wingborg

Research specialisations

Teaching and educational research in the arts at the Academy of Music and Drama can be divided into three different tracks:

Research specialised on teaching and learning in music, dance and theatre in schools, schools of music and arts, and teacher education

Within this specialisation, knowledge is developed through concrete teaching in schools, schools of music and arts, and teacher education, in a type of practice-based research. Several studies on music, dance and theatre didactics have been and are being conducted at the Academy of Music and Drama. Studies on questions of grading and assessment, practical expertise and concept-formation processes within the arts are a few examples. In addition to these more didactic studies, this specialisation also contains studies on power issues, democracy, equality and social conditions for learning in artistic subjects in schools and teacher education. The research within this subject aims to promote the development of research associated with teacher education and schools. Several of the doctoral projects in this specialisation are also connected to the Centre for Educational Science and Teacher Research (CUL), the University of Gothenburg’s faculty-wide graduate school.

Research specialised on higher artistic knowledge formation

The focus on higher artistic knowledge formation is also pedagogically oriented, because studies in this area focus on learning, teaching and education. Here the focus is largely on practical knowledge formation and the specific questions in conjunction with learning processes in musical practice. Studies in this specialisation are in the subject of music education and here, teaching in music as an artistic phenomenon is the pedagogically interesting aspect, as well as studies of gender, assessment, norms and views of knowledge in higher music education.

Research specialising on teaching questions in a broader societal perspective

Teaching and education science research in the arts is not only about learning in institutional contexts. A large part of artistic learning currently takes place outside of teaching institutions, which has consequences for both third-cycle subjects at the Academy of Music and Drama. Cross-disciplinary research projects in which multidisciplinary research questions are asked and collaborations between different types of learning environments and institutions point to this third specialisation, which is under development.