Doctoral defence: Popular music and jazz vocal teachers focus on finding the students’ own voice

Popular music and jazz vocal teachers in Nordic higher music education often work in isolated environment and in their pedagogical practices emphasize finding the students’ own voice proposes Susanna Mesiä in her doctoral dissertation Developing expertise of popular music and jazz vocal pedagogy through professional conversations. Public examination of Mesiä’s doctoral dissertation will take place at the Sibelius Academy, Uniarts Helsinki on May 18th 2019.

Mesiä collected the research data in a collaborative project between popular music and jazz vocal teachers working in higher music education in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. According to Mesiä, many teachers have feelings of isolation in their work as they often work without colleagues of their own field. As vocal pedagogy is under a continuous development because of advancements in voice science, technology and musical styles, the teachers hope for adequate continuing professional development opportunities to develop their expertise.

The participants of the project found discussing daily working challenges and sharing pedagogical thinking and practices in a trustworthy and secure environment as a beneficiary way to develop their expertise at all stages of their careers.

The pedagogical thinking of the participants has moved away from the master-apprentice model in which the teacher knows the right way to sing and the student imitates. Instead, the teachers described learner-centered pedagogical practices in which teaching emerges as searching and trying out together and in which the student decides what vocal expression he or she prefers.

- The teachers emphasized the students’ responsibility in the learning process and in the outcomes. They wantedd to give the students adequate tools for lifelong learning in the future working environments, Mesiä describes.  

The Nordic countries are acknowledged for introducing jazz and popular music to higher education.

The field is appealing more and more young musicians and the attractivity rates are high in many institutions. Popular music and jazz departments are still small in size compared to western classical music in most institutions. Also, popular music and jazz vocal pedagogy has remained virtually understudied in academic research and Mesiä’s dissertation may be considered visionary also internationally. In addition to providing valuable insights into popular music and jazz vocal pedagogy it provides a model for continuing professional development that may be applied also in other disciplines.

The dissertation is available in the Uniarts library database

Requests for interviews:
Communications officer Karoliina Pirkkanen
Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki
karoliina.pirkkanen@uniarts.fi, +358 40 710 4319

Public examination of a doctoral dissertation of Susanna Mesiä

Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 12 a.m.
Music Centre, Black Box

Title of the dissertation: Developing Expertise of Popular Music and Jazz Vocal Pedagogy Through Professional Conversations: A collaborative project among teachers in higher music education in the Nordic countries

Opponent: Professor Don Lebler, Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, Australia

Examiners of the dissertation: Professor Don Lebler, Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, Australia, Professor Tiri Bergesen Schei, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

Custos: Professor Lauri Väkevä

The event will be held in English.