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Pointing Out the Invisible in Motion: A Didactic Study on Time in Music

Research project

Short description

Dissertation by Cecilia Wallerstedt, 2010.
The aim of this study is to examine what constitutes being able to discern time in music, as seen from the learner’s perspective. Listening is not only regarded as a higher mental process but also as a core skill in musical ability.

Participants in the empirical study are 3 teachers and 27 children in a pre-school class and in primary school. Three lessons aimed at facilitating children’s ability to discern time are analysed. The data also consists of interviews with the children.

The theoretical framework for the study is variation theory. Four critical aspects of the object of learning have become apparent: to be able to discern stressed beats, the auditory meaning of keeping time and the continuous aspect of pulse; of critical importance is also to be able to separate the metrical aspect of the music from different forms of representing it, such as clapping or drumming.

It is suggested that mediating tools, such as time, constitute important learning objects in music education. The teacher’s task is to point out what is invisible in the music and also what is invisible to the children. This can be done with the help of visual representations of auditory aspects, patterns of variation and verbal dialogue.