AbstractThe present study asks how musicians who have learned outside the classical tradition teach others to play. A group of eight instrumental teachers were studied, all of whom grew up playing ‘popular’, vernacular styles of music. While most of them had at least some experience of being taught classical music, they spent their formative years committed to largely self-directed learning, acquiring the skills they needed in order to play the styles that appealed to them at the time: namely rock, blues, jazz or folk. The teachers were interviewed about their learning histories and their teaching practice, and were filmed teaching a total of eleven students. There was a wide range of instrumental teaching strategies in evidence, from the orthodox teaching of classical music to lessons based entirely on listening and copying. However, in exploring the relationship between how this group learned to play and how they teach others to play, it was evident that they were not ‘teaching as they were taught’, nor were they necessarily re-creating their own ‘informal’ learning practices. Rather they were creating their own idiosyncratic teaching strategies, drawing on those elements of their own learning histories which they valued, and supplementing these with aspects of musical learning which they felt they had missed out on; in short, they were attempting to teach as they would have wanted to be taught themselves. Their teaching practice, and their sense of identity, was strongly influenced both by the economic realities of trying to survive as musicians, and by the nature of their students, who were generally viewed as relatively unmotivated. The study addresses an under-researched area of music teaching, and the findings are relevant to course designers, syllabus consultants and instrumental teachers generally, as well as music education researchers, in particular those interested in popular music and informal learning.
Robinson, Tim (2010) How popular musicians teach. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.