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Talking about composing in secondary school music lessons

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 2007

Angela E. Major*
Centre for International Research on Creativity and Learning in Education, Roehampton University, Southlands College, Roehampton Lane, London SW15 5SL,


This paper reports an action research study of teacher and pupil talk about composing. Data were collected through video and audio recordings of composition lessons in a secondary school. Qualitative analysis of the data led to the development of a ‘typology of pupil talk about composing’ which distinguishes between six main types: exploration, description, opinion, affective response, evaluation and problem solving. The results of the study suggest that as children engage and empathise affectively and acquire ownership of their work, they appear to be able to talk more confidently about it. As children make sense of their work, they may well be able to understand more than their talk reveals. The role of teachers in nurturing talk about composing work in the classroom is considered in relation to the findings. By designing appropriate composing tasks, they may be able to promote the development of more mature forms of evaluative talk in younger children, and of their critical listening and appraising skills. The development of more mature, ‘higher’ forms of evaluative talk in younger children might be promoted by teachers in designing composing tasks.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007

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