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Understanding the one-to-one relationship in instrumental/vocal tuition in Higher Education: comparing student and teacher perceptions

  • Helena Gaunt (a1)

The power of one-to-one tuition in Higher Music Education is evidenced by its continuing place at the heart of conservatoire education. The need to examine this student–teacher relationship more closely has been emphasised in the last decades by increasing understanding of processes of student learning in Higher Education as a whole, and in particular the impact which student–teacher relations have on learning. Literature on PhD supervision, for example, has highlighted the depth of applied craft skills made possible in one-to-one interaction, and has also drawn attention to a range of potential difficulties encountered in the supervisory relationship. This paper draws on findings from a study at a conservatoire in the UK, which explored student and teacher perceptions of one-to-one tuition. It analyses student and teacher perspectives on the relationship and considers the match between their perceptions within student–teacher pairs. Findings demonstrate diverse characterisation of the relationship, and varied approaches to extending a social relationship beyond the confines of the lesson. Comparison of student–teacher pairs indicates that the students tended to mirror their teachers' opinions about appropriate social interaction. This was one example of the dynamics of power operating within the one-to-one relationship, although these were rarely discussed explicitly. Such dynamics of power made it difficult in some instances for students to articulate difficulties with learning and to change teacher. There was also evidence of a possible connection between dynamics of power in the relationship and students' reluctance to develop artistic and professional self-direction. The implications of these findings are considered in terms of conceptualising one-to-one tuition, and the need to review the professional framework of its delivery in Higher Music Education.

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British Journal of Music Education
  • ISSN: 0265-0517
  • EISSN: 1469-2104
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