Lost in interpretation
This polyphonic audio paper addresses the relation between master and apprentice in the music conservatoire, and gives voice to the central human and non-human agents in this context. We aim to explore the power structures that constitute a structural framework for these relations, with regard to the agency with which students shape their individual interpretations, and therefore also to the role of imitation in instrumental music teaching. Master classes have arguably been seen as the pinnacle of the master–apprentice tradition, and have had a central role within higher education in Western classical music. It has regularly been claimed that such classes are effective for student development (see Hanken, 2008; 2011; Hanken and Long, 2012; Hanken, 2015; 2016; 2017) although, until recently, research on master classes has been quite sparse (see Hanken, 2008; 2011).
Results from a qualitative study of teaching and learning of musical interpretation in a master class setting—first articulated in the form of an ethnodrama (Holmgren, 2018; 2020; Nguyễn and Östersjö, 2020; Saldaña, 1998; 2003; 2005; 2011; Salvatore, 2018), written by Holmgren—constitutes the point of departure for the audio paper. Our staging of Holmgren’s ethnodrama as a Hörspiel constitutes an artistic research process, through dramatical and musical composition (Olofsson, 2018). The research process originated in sound, as well as in questions related to musical performance; ultimately, through the many layers of analysis and artistic production, the final outcomes are again manifest in sound. Originating in music education research, the study seeks a better understanding of how the dynamics between teacher, student and music institution can be better utilised in curriculum development. Hence, the audio paper, and the Hörspiel that it contains, constitutes a central result of the study (see further Holmgren, 2020) in artistic form as a sonic and multivocal artefact. We ultimately propose that the future for instrumental teaching in the conservatoire lies in the creation of situations that allow for sharing experiences of performative knowledge. Hereby, teacher and student can work together towards the goal of fostering an individual musician’s voice (Gorton and Östersjö, 2019), highlighting the importance of personal autonomy, situatedness, and an analytical awareness of institutional and societal power structures. Hence, the study points to perspectives that may contribute to curriculum development in higher music education, specifically with regard to instrumental music teaching.
Marall Nasiri (Master)
Johan Forslund (Teacher)
Inez Micaella Amy Andersson (Students)
Helen Julia Minors (Narrator)
Carl Holmgren (autoethnographic recordings, and piano performance)
Sound design and audio editing