Exploring how music therapy students use video recordings of themselves in self-directed study when learning to improvise music with others

A 2018 Centre of Excellence in Music Performance Education Innovation Grant


What this project aims to find out

This project wants to find out how a group of Integrated Master in Music Therapy students in a module on music improvisation for music therapy (http://www.uib.no/emne/MUTP302) use video recordings of themselves improvising music in the classroom setting in their self-directed study outside of the classroom setting. After using video recordings for a whole semester, the project also wants to find out how the students list, describe and categorize the different ways they have engaged with their video recordings and how they think that this form of digital media use contributes to the learning of music improvisation skills related to music therapy.

Being competent in describing and analyzing improvised interaction is a significant and essential skill required of a qualified music therapist. The practice of video recording students is commonly used in the classroom setting to facilitate the development of these skills. However, as video recording is commonly controlled by teachers, this project advocates for the students’ control and management of digital video in their own learning. The project also helps the teacher gain insight into their skill development outside of the classroom setting which is otherwise hidden and difficult to access. It is perhaps for this reason that there are no projects or research studies to date about this topic. This is unfortunate considering the significant role that video recording plays in the two music therapy programs in Norway. In Oslo at NMH, music therapy students use video recordings of themselves as an obligatory part of their examinations of music improvisation skills, and in Bergen at UiB, the students are regularly exposed to video recording in lectures and practical sessions. This project aims to initiate a process of filling this gap of knowledge.

How the project will be carried out

Each student will be able to video record themselves improvising music in the class setting. This may be alone, or together with other students and forms for documenting written permission to record each other and keeping the video recordings indefinitely for personal study only will be provided. After each class is over the students can keep and use the video recordings during the Autumn semester. The recordings will not be used for any other purpose than the student’s own personal viewing and will not be distributed or shown to anyone but themselves in this project. The students will be told in advance that this project is interested in how they might use the videos in their learning process. They will be asked to write short notes that record when and how they use the video recordings and describe how they think the video recordings affect and contribute to their learning process. Although this learning practice is novel to this project, it has been selected as it is in alignment with the learning outcomes of the existing study plan, the class timetable and the amounts of self-directed study time allocated to this course. Because of this, the project requires no additional student or teacher resources for the module. In the first class of the Spring semester the students will collaboratively list, describe and categorize the different ways they have engaged with their video recordings outside of the classroom setting during the Autumn semester. In that class, the students and I will also discuss how this project might be inspire future projects and research agendas.

The project’s relevance for higher music education

This project is relevant for higher music education by attending to four main aims. Firstly, the project fills a significant knowledge gap about how music therapy students practice and consider their learning of music improvisation through the self-determined use of digital video recordings. Secondly, the project opens discourse about the relationship between teaching and learning of music improvisation that is transferrable between the various domains of music education – pedagogics, performance, analysis and therapy. The project may also lead to initiatives for the development of new or the adaptation of existing learning modules that specifically focus on learning that is facilitated by video recording-based self-study in both therapy and performance focused programs. Thirdly, the project generates an innovative oscillation of focus of education between teaching and learning whilst maintaining a concentration on the use of digital video material in music improvisation learning. Fourthly, the project is relevant for higher music education as it aims to attract and engage with interdisciplinary research collaboration with fields outside of higher music education ultimately leading to an increase of quality of education.