This work derives from a doctoral research study which looked at the differences in students' attitudes towards learning music in a Brazilian music higher education institution, while taking into account their different music learning backgrounds. The students' backgrounds (which consist of their set of musical experiences and music-learning processes that had been acquired and developed in their lives before entering the university course) are divided into three types: (i) those who have acquired their skills and knowledge mostly through informal learning experiences, particularly in the world of popular music; (ii) those who have only experienced classical training either within institutions such as music schools, or privately; and (iii) those whose backgrounds consist of both informal learning and classical training. These different backgrounds are termed here formal, informal and mixed. The research also discusses the gap between the way music is conceived and taught within the university and the reality students will have to face outside university. It further suggests that the traditional teaching approaches for music in higher education are possibly inadequate for educating university students from varied music learning backgrounds, especially those with informal music learning backgrounds. After examining some findings of the research, the paper proposes pedagogical strategies in which informal music learning practices might help the integration of students from different backgrounds, encouraging students' diversity and their inclusion in the university music school environment. The suggested strategies exemplify approaches that enable the students to bridge the gap between their own musical practices and those they are expected to learn in their institution. In this case, the students have more autonomy and the teacher becomes a facilitator of the process.
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