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Bridging the Gap: a study to enhance the learning of extra-curricular musicians within a mainstream year 9 music classroom

Elizabeth Walsh

Secondary PGCE (Music) 2010-11



This study, undertaken as a piece of action research, collaborated with 2 student researchers at a school in Suffolk. Based upon the assertion that students taking part in extra-curricular activities find these to be their most enriching musical experiences, it identifies a problem for teachers finding means by which to enhance the learning of these students within the classroom. Furthermore, this study seeks to identify pedagogic strategies that enhance the engagement and progress of extra-curricular students in a Year 9 (age 13-14) unit of work on Blues music. The study utilises flow theory that contends that optimal learning experiences are reached when an individual’s skill level matches the level of challenge that they face. This theory is used as a lens through which to interpret data. Participants worked alongside the author to devise, implement and evaluate pedagogic strategies. Data were collected through interviews, observations and questionnaire responses. The present findings identify instrumental teaching as a successful pedagogic strategy where the focus lay in improving the quality rather than quantity of musical responses. By comparison, extension worksheets and group work emerged as unsuccessful strategies. Results also suggest that extra-curricular students should not be treated as a homogeneous group. Research of this nature should encourage classroom music teachers to provide for extra-curricular musicians more effectively.

Copyright: © 2011. This paper is copyright of the author. (Please read the Journal's copyright information page by using the menu to the left of this page.)

The full paper is available for download as a pdf file:159-220-walshe.pdf

Citation: Walsh, E. (2011) Bridging the Gap: a study to enhance the learning of extra-curricular musicians within a mainstream year 9 music classroom.Journal of Trainee Teacher Educational Research, Volume 3, pp.159- 220. (Downloaded from, [date of access])