Collaborative creativity in music education: Children's interactions in group creative music making
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This study intended to develop a theoretical framework for understanding children's collaborative creativity in music. The focus was on creative interactions and on how early primary children interact when they engage in creative group music making. Related questions were on: 1) the different communicative media employed, 2) the component aspects of group work influencing children's creative endeavours, 3) the meanings that children attribute to their creative experience, and 4) the educational and ethical values of creative interactions. The study was carried out in a private music school in Rome, Italy. A group of eight 5-7-year-old children participated over eight months in 30 weekly sessions of group creative activities in music and movement. I was the teacher researcher and worked with a co-teacher. This exploratory, interpretive inquiry was framed by sociocultural perspectives on learning and creativity. A qualitative research methodology was adopted, which combined methodological elements derived from case study research, ethnographic approaches, and practitioner research. Data collection methods included participant observation, video-recording of sessions, documentation, and strategies for eliciting children's meanings. Thematic analysis, both theory-driven and data-driven, was conducted in order to identify relevant issues. The findings of the study suggest that in creative collaborative work in music bodily interactions and musical interactions have a stronger significance than verbal interactions. A conceptual distinction was made between 'cooperative' vs 'collaborative' which helped to characterise the different degrees of interactivity in the group's creative work. The study identified a range of component aspects which influenced the quality and productivity of children's collaborative interactions. These included: children's characteristics, context and setting, pedagogical approach, task design, collaboratively emergent processes, underlying tensions in creative learning, reflection on and evaluation of creative work, and time. Children actively gave meaning to their group creative music making mostly in terms of imagery and narrative, though they were gradually shifting towards more purely musical conceptualisations. Creating music in groups had the potential to enhance their sense of competence, ownership and belonging, and supported ethical values such as promoting the person, freedom, responsibility, a multiplicity of perspectives, and democracy. Three meta-themes run throughout the findings of the study, which are in line with sociocultural perspectives: i) a systems perspective as necessary to gain a more comprehensive view of collaborative creativity; ii) creativity as an inherently social phenomenon, and iii) creativity as processual and emergent. The implications for pedagogical practice highlight the importance of including creative collaborative activities in the music curriculum.
College of Social Sciences & International Studies of the University of Exeter
PhD in Education