The influence of teachers’ backgrounds on their perceptions of musical creativity : a qualitative study with secondary school music teachers.
This paper examines the relationship between six secondary school teachers’ backgrounds and their perceptions of musical creativity. A unit of work involving composition and improvisation activities with pupils aged 11-14 was videotaped for each teacher. Participants were invited to comment on the videotapes during interviews, which were subsequently analysed using content analysis with the assistance of the computer programme NVivo. Teachers were also asked to reflect on specific instances that had shaped the direction of their musical outlook by completing a Musical Career Path questionnaire. It was observed that their experiences fell into three strands, namely musical, teacher-education, and professional teaching. The influence of these strands on the teachers’ thinking is discussed in four sections that refer to a four-fold framework outlined from the literature review: their perceptions of (a) creative pupils, (b) an environment that fosters creativity, (c) the creative process, and (d) creative musical products. Data analyses indicate that the most influential strand is ‘musical’. Participants with composing experience and practical knowledge of different music styles were more articulate at describing the environment for creativity and how this might be assessed in pupils’ work. Educational implications based on these findings are considered in the conclusion.