Universiteit Leiden

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Collaborative learning in conservatoire education: Catalyst for innovation

Which collaborative learning approaches already exist in conservatoire education, and how could such approaches be implemented? This is the subject of Tamara Rumiantsev’s (PhD candidate at ICLON) thesis. Defence on 14 April 2022.

Master apprenticeship tradition

Contemporary professional music performance and music teaching practices demand musicians’ ability to engage in a variety of collaborative settings with a broad range of competencies and skills. Conservatoire education is centred around one-to-one tuition in the so-called master apprenticeship tradition. According to various studies, offering a wider variety of pedagogical approaches and implementing collaborative learning activities in conservatoire education would be beneficial for students' preparation for their prospective careers. However, collaborative learning has not yet been broadly and widely implemented in conservatories around the world.

Collaborative learning at conservatoires

The aim of this research project was to increase understanding of which collaborative learning approaches already exist in conservatoires, and how such approaches could be implemented. Conservatoire teachers were interviewed regarding their perceptions of course content, group lessons, and possibilities for innovation, whereas students were questioned about these aspects through questionnaires. Interviews with conservatoire leaders brought new insights into their observations and perceptions on curriculum reform and on how to educate students for their future professional practice.

Better preparation for professional practice

Collaborative learning in conservatoire education assists students in the development of collaborative, teamwork, social and interpersonal skills. Also, metacognitive skills, self-regulated learning and self-efficacy were reinforced by collaborative learning. Learning activities and content of lessons appeared to be very suitable for collaborative learning. Thus, collaborative learning approaches prepare students better for their future professional practice. 

Paradigm shift in conservatoire education

Yet, aspects of culture and tradition generally sustaining a teacher-centered approach, were found to hinder the process of implementing a larger variety of learning approaches in conservatoire education, including collaborative learning. Along with the process of implementing collaborative learning, teacher professional development is necessary. Leaders too, need to increase their insights into evidence-based pedagogies and reflect on their perceptions of teaching and learning. A better connection to professional practice and society requires a paradigm shift in thinking about conservatoire education and in the education itself.

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