Dialogue Lost? Teaching Musical Interpretation of Western Classical Music in Higher Education

Sammanfattning: The aim of this thesis is to contribute to a better understanding of musical interpretation in teaching and learning Western classical music from both a teacher’s and student’s perspective within the context of piano main instrument teaching in higher music education in Sweden. The following research questions were formulated to fulfil this aim: first, how do teachers and students understand musical interpretation as educational content?; second, how do teachers and students understand teaching and learning of musical interpretation?; third and finally, how could verbal and musical dialogues be used for improving teaching and learning of musical interpretation?The thesis employs an overarching hermeneutical framework and consists of three movements. Multiple forms of empirical material were created and collected to understand the complex phenomenon: semi-structured interviews (with and without stimulus) with teachers, students, and master class teacher; video and audio recordings of master class lessons and workshops; annotated scores; audio-recorded student performances and written instructions, written responses, and reflective one-minute papers. The empirical material was hermeneutically analysed and presented using poetical condensations, haiku formed poems, (auto)ethnodrama, and collaboratively negotiated student narratives.The results outline that musical interpretation is neither verbalised nor negotiated. Furthermore, the students are held responsible for developing or already having the skills and capacities required for autonomy and a personal, authentic artistic voice, described as the desired learning outcome. That the students find their education backwards-looking and not preparing for a professional career in music could at least partly be due to the instrumental lessons being mainly devoted to demonstration and imitation without argumentative support. Moreover, as the teachers’ capacity to verbalise and engage in dialogical practices seems to be situationally bound and requiring questions, the possibilities to, on an organisational level, empower students to initiate and enter such dialogues should be further studied.The created dialogical pedagogical situations, opening for musical and verbal collaboration, helped establish a shared understanding of musical interpretation and highlighted the difference between students’ intentions and performances. These situations offered collaborative explorations of what musical interpretation is, might be, and could be. I suggest that musical interpretation, including its philosophical and ethical aspects, is lifted as a general subject at a programme level, thus securing that it is dealt with adequately, not merely relying on individual teachers. Finally, methodological considerations and suggestions for further research are put forward.