The developing musician
Knowledge about musical development is important because the decisions teachers make are determined by their underlying thoughts, beliefs and attitudes. Therefore, what teachers consider musical development to be underpins what and how they plan, teach, and evaluate what their pupils do. Theory underpins practice – consciously or not – but this is a two-way process since practical experience helps develop personal theories. This chapter gives an overview of some of the current thinking about musical development and makes links to the implications for whole class instrumental and vocal teaching (WCIVT), covering the following aspects:
In an educational context, development implies some sort of change for the better – however defined – over time. The terms ‘development’ and ‘progression’ are commonly used almost interchangeably, and can be thought of in a generalised, holistic way or within specific aspects relating to music. Those different aspects of musical development include:
● the different types of musical knowledge: knowledge how (skills), knowledge that (facts about) and knowledge of (acquaintance knowledge). While the latter is the ‘absolutely central core involved in knowing music’ (Swanwick 1994: 17), the other two can be contributory. For example, facts about a particular piece of music can influence the listener’s appreciation of it; and technical skills can enable people to compose and perform in the ways they want;
● different ways of engaging with music (e.g. composing, performing, listening, appraising, singing, notating);
● conceptual development relating to the building blocks within music itself (what the National Curriculum refers to as ‘elements’: pitch, duration, timbre, etc.).