Exploring effective teaching methods for young instrumental music students enrolled in one-to-one synchronous online lessons
This study seeks to identify and analyse performance instruction such as technique and expression, as well as psychological learning processes such as physical absence of a teacher, communication or student’s autonomy levels while having piano lessons online. The study will also address whether any such development is mediated by socioeconomic status. The findings will have practical applications in online teaching attitudes and contribute to shaping future pedagogical and didactical approaches.
Few studies have focused on young online music students at beginner and intermediate levels (e.g., Daugvilaite 2021; Dumlavwalla 2017; Pike and Shoemaker 2013, 2015). Within the limited available literature, evidence has shown that complete beginners have considerable difficulty engaging in online lessons due to the absence of physical interaction and the teacher’s inability to develop a rapport with students (Dumlavwalla 2017; Duffy and Healey 2017). For example, as a study by Simones, Rodger, and Schroeder (2014, 728–729) demonstrated that younger students need more support than older students, and that ‘piano teachers guided and supported learners in a Pre-grade 1 and Grade 1 group through “touch”’. Moreover, Salvador et al. (2021, 206) concluded that ‘beginners’ lack of foundational knowledge [and] needs for nuanced sound reproduction prevented these participants from seeing the online experience as positively as others’. Therefore, further research is needed to understand how the young students learn online and make in-depth recommendations about the most effective teaching methods for younger music students.
An embedded exploratory multiple-case study design (Yin 2018, 60-61) will be used to investigate these questions, because the primary purpose of this project is to explore contemporary educational issues in depth (Biggam 2018, 157). A multiple-case study design also facilitates the examination and comparison of multiple teacher practices within a larger study (Yin 2018, 52). This study will consist of three sequential data collection phases: 1. Pilot interviews; 2. Existing document analysis; 3. Interviews and observations.
Prior to the first and second phases of data collection, this study will seek approval from the Royal College of Music (RCM) Ethics Committee. To collect data from social media, approval will additionally be sought from social media group moderators and those who contributed to the content creation (Thorgersen and Mars 2021, 230). For the third phase, as it involves participants under the age of 18, ethics approval from the Conservatoires UK (CUK) Ethics Committee as well as parental consent will be sought.
This research will make important contributions to the fields of music education, online music pedagogy and music performance science by developing and expanding on previous research on online music teaching and learning, as well as gaining a deeper understanding of how students’ socioeconomic status may impact online teaching and learning. The findings of the study will be published in peer-reviewed journals such as Music Education Research or the Journal of Music, Technology and Education. Moreover, this study will evaluate existing literature on teaching and learning and summarise the most effective teaching methods for online education.