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Research Shorts: From conservatoire students to music educators

22nd August 2023

Five musicians are playing in a music education class, someone is throwing a ball, someone is playing a cello, there are boomwhackers on the floor. Two other people wait to catch the ball.

Last month, I met with Dr Luan Shaw who is based at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire to talk more about her and her research in music education. Luan is working to embed teaching in the heart of conservatoire students’ training, and her recent research explores what the value of that is for both students and the wider field. She is a passionate advocate for music teaching, and it was great to find out more about this project.

Luan’s project is based on three years of research with over 100 students and alumni and representatives from 66 Music Education Hubs and conservatoires across the country. The big findings are about the power of instrumental teacher training to challenge and counteract entrenched institutional structures and attitudes and promote teaching as a respected and valuable career pathway for musicians.

She’s also been looking at how conservatoires can prepare undergraduate students for the music education workforce, by supporting the students to develop pedagogical knowledge and experience. This is something she’s keen to develop further. Luan has found that ‘There is insufficient dialogue between higher education institutions and employers regarding how best to prepare students for careers involving instrumental tuition’.

The biggest impact of this research is for music education providers to inform their plans and ensure that future music educators can be ‘best equipped to support musical learning in children and young people’ as suggested by the National Plan for Music Education (2022). There is also an opportunity for music hubs and services to partner with providers like conservatoires and university departments.

Luan is a music educator herself and has developed several pedagogical and community modules at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. She is currently leading four of these. She has been recognised for her commitment to championing instrumental music teacher training with a National Teaching Fellowship from advance HE. Her own research closely relates to her teaching.

Find out more about Luan’s project.

Sarah K. Whitfield – Research Lead for Music Mark

Photograph by Firefoot Photography

yellow text which says 'research shorts', music mark logo, and a decorative image of sound equalizer patterns.