Music theory pedagogy in Malta: implications for practice in higher education from the perspectives of teachers, lecturers and students

PhD Thesis

Moira Azzopardi Barbieri 2022. Music theory pedagogy in Malta: implications for practice in higher education from the perspectives of teachers, lecturers and students. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Creative Arts and Industries
AuthorsMoira Azzopardi Barbieri
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy

This study examines insights concerning teachers’ and students’ perspectives, strategies and experiences of music theory teaching and learning in Higher Education in Malta.
Inspired by a combination of approaches (case study, constructivist-interpretivist), the research aimed to provide an empirical exploration of music theory teaching at the Malta School of Music (MSM), whilst acting as a backbone, to the researcher’s design and structure of two study guides for the higher theory grades. Findings from the empirical part of the study suggest distinctive core skills for all music theory learners in Higher Education. These are aural and sight singing skills, analysis skills, part-writing and composing skills, keyboard harmony and impovisation skills. The theoretical framework has also identified approaches that music theory teachers could adopt for effective teaching such as student-centred and inquiry-based learning, using a variety of music repertoire, adopting creative digital technologies, connecting theory with practice and assessment through portfolios. In particular, responses from the participants in the study suggest that active listening, keyboard harmony and improvisation, analysis through a variety of repertoire, student-centred approach that encourage the students’ creative voice in composition, the connection of theory with practice, digital technologies and the organisation of the portfolio assessment were all underscored as being pivotal in the students’ musical development.

The thesis concludes with recommendations on the content and ways of teaching of music theory in Higher Education directed at helping students to connect actively with the subject in a pragmatic and enjoyable way. Besides the written submission, the separate portfolio submission also includes sample material from the final versions of the music theory guides for Grades VII and VIII that the researcher has created, which will form part of the forthcoming music theory workbooks, compiled by the researcher upon the request of the Maltese Government.

KeywordsMusic theory pedagogy; Malta; Higher education; Practice; Teacher perspective; Lecturer perspective; Student perspective
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Publication process dates
Deposited13 Dec 2022
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