The aim of this paper is to describe how different aspects of musical learning and artistic performance are handled, performed and expressed in individual jazz singing lessons and ensemble lessons in the music teacher education from a multimodal, social semiotic and design theoretical perspective. The relation between musical learning and artistic performance has only been explored to a certain point in previous research. Some studies show that there is a divide between these aspects and that they do not always co-exist. Other studies show that musical learning and artistic performance are closely interconnected. However, there is a lack of studies on how the relation is handled in different types of classes in the music teacher education. What performance and theoretical perspectives are emphasized, clarified, and problematized? What conceptions of musical quality are articulated, and how can a composition be learned, performed and communicated? The purpose of this study is to increase the knowledge and understanding of how these aspects of learning and performing can be handled in the music teacher education and the learning opportunities these processes create.
The study is based on video recordings of some jazz singing and ensemble lessons and analyzes how different resources such as speaking, singing, and instrument playing are used. The multimodal, social semiotic and design theoretical perspective with its focus on semiotic resources, sign-making, transformations of signs, the creating of representations, and the importance of the social context (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2001; Kress, 2010; Selander, 2008) has provided a fruitful theoretical frame and a useful tool for analyzing the data. The multimodal perspective principally centres on the interplay and coordination of different resources, and how these function as representations of different ideas, perceptions and experiences in terms of interest and motivation. The social semiotic perspective pays special attention to the social dimension of the communication, that is, how meaning-making is dependent on and influenced by the context of the activity, and the events, ideas and feelings that the socially and historically shaped resources represent. From a design theoretical perspective on communication and learning, the choice of performance, its execution and the resources used to shape content in relation to the social framing are seen as formative for the learning opportunities created in a specific context.
The data consist of video recordings of two students in the new music teacher education, and their teachers, including a total of six individual jazz singing lessons and eleven ensemble lessons. On the basis of detailed transcriptions of how teachers and students use semiotic resources, such as gestures, speech, singing, instrument playing and printed score in their musical communication, different characteristic and salient features have been described. The teachers have also been interviewed about their teaching focus. The analysis of the data illustrates what teachers and students do in order to handle, perform and create the music, and how they “talk” about the technique of instrument playing, interpretation, expression and experiences, and the technical and structural aspects of the music by means of body language, verbal language, singing voices and instrument playing.
Preliminary results show that the teachers in various ways practice a rhythmical and improvisation-based music pedagogy as a foundation for playing music, partly with a focus on practical-theoretical knowledge, partly with a focus on practical-personally performed knowledge. The teachers all share the aim of teaching the students to learn and perform music in an individual as well as in a collective way on the basis of personal choices and feelings, whereas the ways to achieve this aim vary. The variations show how the teachers in different ways work with and present music to the students, thus activating the processes of learning, performing and creating music, as well as providing opportunities for the students to choose how to teach their future pupils.
Designs for Learning 2012 - Copenhagen Exploring Learning Environments - 25-27 April 2012 3rd International Conference, Copenhagen