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Emojis as musical scores – a social semiotic study of children's composing

Research project
Active research
Project owner
Academy of Music and Drama

Short description

Dissertation by Dan Alkenäs.
In the national evaluation in 2015 of the music subject in primary school, the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) perceived that the subject of music making needs to be developed. This result is one of the reasons why I have chosen to investigate how a music teacher can design and implement teaching in music making so that students in a classroom are offered opportunities and space to express their individual musicality, and can develop, express and experience meaning through music making. The empirical material is based on experimental work with students and a music teacher in grade 4. Based on multimodal social semiotic theory, the thesis analyzes, e.g., how students express meaning through musical activities, which semiotic resources are used, and how students express their experiences.

For many music teachers, working with music making in primary school can be experienced as quite a challenge. In the classroom, many students are expected to work together in musical activities, which may require careful planning as there are large differences among the students regarding musical prior knowledge, interests, and expectations. Musical activities also place demands on the room regarding, for example, instruments, technical equipment, acoustics, size, access to group rooms, etcetera.

In the pedagogical work, the music teacher needs to relate to two relatively large musical paradigms, Western art music and Western popular music. In today's multicultural society, the music teacher also needs to touch music beyond these paradigms. For many teachers, working with music in primary school can therefore mean a constant struggle based on factors such as time, room environment, interests, and skills. Previous research shows, among other things, that there is a need to further study students' use of various semiotic resources for musical communication, which artistic potentials such work can include, as well as the influence of the room in the musical work. It should be mentioned here that there are currently only a few studies done within a Swedish school context.

Photo of Dan Alkenäs
Dan Alkenäs
Photo: Privat