Work package 1: Mapping the current situation within music teacher education

Research objectives and findings

The aim of work package 1 has been to map the prevailing status quo of Norwegian teacher education. The research in work package 1 has been aimed at presenting a comprehensive picture of the status quo in Norwegian generalist music teacher education by investigating educational ideologies and structures embedded in current curriculum, as well as the personal backgrounds, motivations and attitudes of preservice music teachers attending the education programs. The research effort has been based on the understanding that music teacher education largely functions as a silo, reproducing and sustaining musical values, beliefs, and practices, implying that teacher education programs have largely failed to prepare music teachers for the cultural diversity they will meet in their future teaching careers. 

One of the sub-studies was a national survey targeting all active generalist pre-service music teachers (PMTs) in Norway 2017-2020. The findings show that the PMTs are a uniform group with similar socioeconomic backgrounds. Up to 80% of the respondents had close family who were teachers or worked with children and young people, 76% had parents with higher education and over 80% had received organized music training in their upbringing. Only 6% stated that they identified as a minority. The PMTs were pupil-centered and motivated to work with children and young people on their terms and participation. They were oriented towards practice and performance and believed that music in schools should focus on playing together in groups and bands with the aim of producing concerts and performances. Popular music seemed to be the preferred genre in the work with pupils in schools. There were clear gender differences, largely matching prevailing gender stereotypes: men play band instruments and use music technology while women sing and play the piano. The PMTs called for more music didactics and methodological training in their education programs. The study indicates that there are strong reproductive patterns in music teacher education. It asserts that the dominating uniformity in values and basic beliefs in the music teacher education field can stand in the way for change (Nysæther, Christophersen & Sætre, 2021)

Another sub-study investigated ideologies and values in the national guidelines for teacher education in Norway as well as local curricular plans and job advertisements from ten institutions offering music in generalist music teacher education. The researchers found that the national guidelines relate to both historical and current discourses of music preferences, values, and ideologies in schools. Research results point to a deeply embedded historical and national ideology that promotes musical heritage as a builder of nationhood, while at the same time, more cosmopolitical ideological tendencies can be identified in the promotion of cultural diversity and international orientations. The study also points to unambiguous labels of scholarly traditions that represent the contrasting ideologies that have influenced western philosophy of music education. Additionally, it is shown that the guidelines mainly view music as an activity – pre-service teachers are seen as active agents with a potential to fill the music subject with their own content based on personal music preferences (Knudsen & Onsrud, in press).

When examining local plans and job advertisements the researchers identified several ideological processes that are at play and may cause tensions within the field. Such tensions can be formulated as continua between certain value-laden priorities: 1) musical skills versus pedagogical skills, 2) activity orientation versus reflection orientation, 3) academic orientation versus artistic orientation, 4) research focus versus teaching focus, and 5) future orientation versus tradition orientation. The researchers found that while the National guidelines for music teacher education apparently seem quite open and flexible in view of adjusting to contemporary and future needs, local curricula rarely exploit the potential for local adjustment and innovation. Job advertisements, on the other hand, tend to show an ideological mismatch between the institutional level, mostly leaning towards innovation for the future, and the level of recruitment of music staff, mostly leaning towards traditions (Onsrud & Kvinge, submitted).

See all FUTURED publications here


Jan Sverre Knudsen
Oslo Metropolitan University
WP1 leader and researcher
Catharina Christophersen
Western Norway University of Applied Sciences
WP1 co-leader and researcher
Silje Valde Onsrud
Western Norway University of Applied Sciences
WP1 researcher
Eyolf Nysæther
Western Norway University of Applied Sciences
WP1 PhD-fellow
Jon Helge Sætre
Norwegian Academy of Music
WP1 guest researcher
Øystein Røsseland Kvinge
Western Norway University of Applied Sciences
WP1 researcher