Youth Music's Douglas Lonie presents research at international community music conference

Youth Music's Douglas Lonie presents research at international community music conference

Exploring using music technology in the classroom is one of the ways in which formal and non-formal teachers could work together and learn from each other.

Posted: 28 February 2013

Dr Lonie says schools, music services and community music organisations must start ‘singing from the same sheet’ if the National Plan for Music Education is to succeed.

Dr Douglas Lonie, Youth Music's Research and Evaluation Manager, presented a paper at the first international Community Music and Music Pedagogy conference at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich this weekend.

The conference explored the latest methods, strategies and theories about teaching music.

“It’s essential that schools, music services, and community music organisations understand each other’s perspectives and ways of working if the National Plan for Music Education is to be truly inclusive.” Douglas Lonie

In his address, Dr Lonie drew on the Communities of Music Education research study, commissioned by Youth Music and conducted by Dr Jo Saunders and Professor Graham Welch of the Institute of Education.

The study examines the issues faced by community music organisations and schools working together, as well as differences in teaching and learning approaches between those organisations.

Non-formal music education methods

Community organisations tend to use a non-formal model of teaching, as opposed to the curriculum and exam focus generally used in schools.

Dr Lonie outlined some of the distinctive features of non-formal music teaching and learning approaches as identified in the research.These included:

  • limited 'teacher talk'
  • alternative approaches to instruction
  • demonstrating the techniques of playing and the ways of being a musician (giving learners a model of how to do something)
  • establishing ‘horizontal learning’ with more able learners (i.e. peer-led learning and less hierarchical relationships) 
  • establishing a mentoring-type relationship with less musically confident learners

“Community music settings have a lot to offer young people across a range of styles, genres, instruments and methods not currently supported in the curriculum. This presents a number of opportunities to schools in working with others.” Douglas Lonie

A particularly interesting aspect of the Communities of Music Education study compares Ofsted guidance indicating the ‘outstanding characteristics’ of a school music lesson with the characteristics of observed sessions in the non-formal sector. The findings indicate that there are areas of common ground in high quality musical learning across these different contexts.

Music projects can benefit from partnership

Whilst the research highlights the lack of mutual understanding between potential partners in formal and non-formal musical settings about their ways of working and different terminologies, it also suggests there are strengths in the different methods of delivery and ways of working employed by both sectors. Music education providers have a huge amount to learn from each other.

“We are all interested in providing the highest quality music education to as many young people as possible.  This research should help providers talk about what quality looks and sounds like across different learning contexts. These conversations will be crucial to the success of Music Education Hubs and a National Plan that is relevant to all young people.” Douglas Lonie

Youth Music's research and professional support

In addition to supporting music projects around the country, Youth Music conducts evaluation and research in order to lead fresh thinking on music education.

Over 3,200 music education professionals have joined our online Youth Music Network to share ideas, innovation and best practice.