Exploring young people's collaborative and creative processes using keyboard and computer based music technologies in formal and non-formal settings

Dillon, Mary Teresa (2007). Exploring young people's collaborative and creative processes using keyboard and computer based music technologies in formal and non-formal settings. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000fd47


In many UK music education settings, young people (11-17 years old) make music collectively. Despite this we currently lack understanding of the processes involved when collaboratively creating music, particularly when working around music technologies. To date, research has tended to focus on classroom-based collaborative interactions on well-defined tasks, where there is only one correct solution. As a result we know little about 1) the kinds of learning practices that emerge outside of school settings and 2) the processes young people engage in when working on open-ended, creative tasks.

Addressing these areas, this research specifically set out to explore the nature of the creative process when composing music collaboratively using keyboards and sampling software, in school, community centre and music camp settings. The contextual relations or features of these different settings, such as the task setting, instruction and technology used and their influence on the creative music-making processes were examined. This was achieved through analysis of the young people's verbal dialogues, which resulted in greater understanding of the relations between context and creativity.

The findings show that how the creative and musical content is organised, rather than the physical setting within which it takes place, plays a fundamental role in the types of talk and creative processes that emerge.

Drawing on the results of the studies carried out, creativity was conceptualised as a cyclic process, with interdependent phases of exploration, discovery, elaboration, critical listening, refining and editing, recording and saving; with problem finding and discovery being central underlying drivers.

Finally, the kinds of verbal dialogues that emerged across all the settings strongly indicated that traditional logical-deductive types of reasoning and talk are not necessary and may even be inappropriate for certain phases of the creative process. This finding is interesting and presents some challenges to our current understanding of collaborative learning. Consequently, it warrants further investigation.

In sum, given the contemporary educational emphasis on self-directed and creative learners, the questions addressed in this thesis and the findings on the context and nature of the creative processes, and informal and formal learning, are considered timely and relevant.

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