Exploring the relationship between private piano teachers' creative identities as musicians and their teaching practices

PhD Thesis

Green, Bonnie. 2021. Exploring the relationship between private piano teachers' creative identities as musicians and their teaching practices. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/q73y5

Exploring the relationship between private piano teachers' creative identities as musicians and their teaching practices

TypePhD Thesis
AuthorGreen, Bonnie
1. FirstA/Pr Melissa Forbes
2. SecondA/Pr Rebecca Scollen
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages394
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/q73y5

Echoing the broader educational agenda, many music educators advocate for the development of 21st century learners' creative abilities and capacities to be at the forefront of music education. Within the private piano teaching studio context, however, recent research shows that teaching and learning priorities remain focused primarily on developing students' technique and music reading ability. Repertoire and exam preparation receive the most attention in private piano lessons, while creative endeavours such as improvisation receive significantly less focus. These priorities are legacies of the western classical tradition of music teaching, learning, and performing. Research reveals that many piano teachers feel they lack sufficient knowledge or experience to explore creativity, and/or have concerns about how students may perceive them when they are teaching unfamiliar skills. This study approaches the issue of creativity within the private piano studio from the vantage point of teachers' identities. Exploring the creative identities of private piano teachers, and the ways in which their creative identities influence their teaching practices has received little attention in the private piano teaching community. Guided by narrative inquiry methodology and informed by the researcher's own experiences, this study presents the lived and told narratives of four piano learners who became private piano teachers. Participant teachers' creative identity construction is explored through the lens of socio-cultural identity formation. Findings detail various social and cultural factors which influence the construction of participant piano teachers' creative identities. Participants' experiences reveal that “hands-on” experiences of creative music-making were paramount to the construction of their creative identities as musicians. Importantly, some participants' sense of being creative was only crystallised when their 'whole selves'—including their prior experiences, interests, and personalities—were engaged in the creative process and when their efforts fulfilled a need. These teachers' experiences also showed that private piano teachers play a highly influential role in the identity construction process. Importantly, teachers' abilities to nurture the creative identities of their students were closely linked to having creative skills themselves, alongside tools to teach for creativity. These abilities and tools were acquired through teachers' own 'hands-on' experiences of creative music-making and experiencing a heightened awareness of the creative process. Teachers' ability to foster their students' creativity was also strengthened by being a creative teacher—that is, being sensitive and responsive to students' individual learning needs, interests, and goals. These findings contain important new knowledge for private piano teachers and music educators more broadly because they provide explicit direction for how to best nurture the creative identities of future piano learners and teachers. The study concludes with recommendations for the ways in which the private piano teaching studio and the role of the private piano teacher might be re-imagined to more closely align with the 21st century educational agenda.

Keywordsmusical identities, creative identities, piano pedagogy, narrative inquiry, instrumental music, education
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020360303. Music education
390199. Curriculum and pedagogy not elsewhere classified
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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Creative Arts
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