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Formal and Informal Music Learning Contexts in School and Communities

David Eliott discussed why and how school and community music education can “put music making to work” for the welfare of democratic societies, and by extension, for the empowerment of school students and music makers in general.

Josephine Mokwunyei  presented research findings of the three chief characteristics of African music that differentiate it from any other type of music: rhythm and metric complexity, the use of improvisation and its form.  She questioned how far these can and have already been integrated in school music programmes.  Although some recommendations have already been made and some experiment on the tertiary level, the music curriculum in most of Africa is still being debated to include and reflect adequate local content in order to enhance and ensure relevance and validity of formal music education on the continent. 

Community music as an active intervention between music leaders and participants is an emergent field of scholarship and practical action. Philosophically aligned to notions of cultural democracy, international community music practices provide an important intersection between what is often described as formal and informal music education. Where are the examples of this practice, how can we describe them, and how might we consider the skill-sets within education and training? The presentation from Lee Higgins considered these questions using examples of projects from around the world.


Liane Hentschke's research project focused on teaching and learning music – especially on the different effects formal, informal and non-formal music education has. She spoke about the mostly negative outcome of music education in Brazilian schools, due to a lack of competence and resources in the schools and the traditional orientation of music education which does not meet the expectations and interests of the pupils. Another aspect mentioned was, that even though music is seen as a catalyst of social mobilisation and therefore very attractive to the youth, non- formal and informal music education are much more popular. This is influenced by the better equipment provided, the teacher's knowledge and a more innovative way of including the student's interests. Liane Hentschke gave the conclusion that it is neccessary to improve Brazil's music education in schools to increase the value of music in society and the students studying music at the same time.

Video of the Formal and informal music learning session

Photos by Vahur Lõhmus. All rights reserved.

Video by Marek Vilba. All rights reserved.


International Music Council

European Music Council

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Eesti Muusika-Ja Teatriakadeemia

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Namm - Belive in music