University of Cambridge > > Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars > Virtual Webinar! series 7: Garden or desert: the contradictions of policy and practice in school music education

Virtual Webinar! series 7: Garden or desert: the contradictions of policy and practice in school music education

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Lucian Stephenson.

The Series of Webinars for Professional Development in the Arts aims to provide opportunities for college students, professors, practitioners and researchers to participate in webinars with internationally recognized leaders and experts in music and arts education. This program has strengthened international collaboration among educational and research institutions in Argentina, Canada, Cyprus, Brazil, England, Mexico and the United States. Initiated in February 2010 at the Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua, the Seventh Series is also simultaneously transmitted at the University of Cambridge, Ball State University, Benedictine University, Simon Fraser Unviersity, University of London, Universidad Veracruzana, Gettysburg College, Conservatorio de Música de Chihuahua, Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina, Instituto Universitario Nacional del Arte, University of Cyprus, SEEECH , and IIIECH . You are cordially invited to participate in this collaborative effort to bring the latest advances in music and arts education research, and their implications for practice in the arts.

Using my knowledge and experience in England and my involvement in international project work, I reflect upon the relationship between general education policy towards schools, the music curriculum, and music teacher training; and discuss what I see as a retreat from the principle of ‘music for all’ and from the central importance of creativity in music education. Whilst governments claim to embrace arts and cultural education; and make statements about the importance of creativity, the reality for teachers and students is inconsistent. The preoccupation with advocacy can distract us from the more important work to be done in developing the quality of research and practice in the field.

In preparation: students might consider the relationship between central or regional education policies in their own country; and their impact on the practice of music education in and out of school.


Sarah Hennessy is Senior Lecturer in Music Education at the Graduate School of Education, University of Exeter, UK. She teaches on initial teacher training programmes for primary teaching (both generalist and specialist), leads the Full time Masters programme and supervises a number of doctoral students. Her research and teaching focus on creativity in music education. She has undertaken several government funded professional development projects for student teachers and experience primary class teachers in music and in cross curricular approaches involving the arts. She was a partner in the meNet Project (a Comenius 3 EU project), 2006-9 which aimed to build a European network for knowledge exchange in music education. Tasks included collating and dissemination of information with commentaries on music education in schools and music teacher education provision in 20 countries in Europe. The project also produced Learning Outcomes for music teacher training. Her involvement in this project and extensive involvement in the European Association for Music in Schools (EAS) has given her a wide knowledge and experience of international collaboration. She has acted as a consultant to government and is currently chairing the Expert Panel for primary music teacher training.

She has completed funded evaluations for many organisations including Youth Music, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Royal Opera House, and the Association of British Orchestras. She is author of several books, book chapters and journal articles and is founding editor of the journal Music Education Research. She is director of the International Conference for Research in Music Education. She was EAS President 2009-2011 and is currently an elected board member of the International Society of Music Education.

This talk is part of the Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars series.

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