The Apprentice to Master Journey: Exploring Tertiary Music Instrument Teachers’ Reflections on Their Experiences as Learner.


  • Ryan Daniel College of Arts, Society and Education James Cook University
  • Kelly Parkes School of Education, Virginia Tech



Apprentice, instruments, lessons, master, music


Many students worldwide engage in lessons on a music instrument; the most common format for this type of learning isthe one-to-one or studio lesson where the master guides the apprentice. At the same time, the one-to-one or studio lesson is an isolated area of practice, given that it takes place behind closed doors. In addition, while the literature for classroom music teachers is substantial with regard to investigating how they describe their own previous teaching experiences or the general characteristics of effective teachers, in comparison there are few studies that explore what music instrument teachers believe are effective characteristics and attributes of their previous teachers and lessons. In order to address this problem, this exploratory article focuses on the reflections of current higher education performing arts teachers; specifically music instrument teachers and their experiences of teachers and lessons. Survey data were obtained from 171 practitioners from nine nations. The respondents were asked to reflect on their initial, pre-tertiary and tertiary lesson experiences and teachers, and to identify the most significant influences on their learning. The data reveal a number of findings, such as the dominance of the master-apprentice social and learning relationship, the characteristics and attributes of inspiring teachers and/or learning experiences, and the fact that some respondents do not have any positive reflections on some periods of their learning.  The data also point towards the cyclical nature of music instrument learning and teaching, with masters guiding apprentices who then become the masters.

Author Biographies

  • Ryan Daniel, College of Arts, Society and Education James Cook University
    Professor of Creative Arts and Industries at James Cook University in Australia.
  • Kelly Parkes, School of Education, Virginia Tech
    Associate Professor - Music Education


Abeles, H. (2011). Designing effective studio music instruction. In P. Ward-Steinman (Ed.), Advances in social-psychology and music education research (pp. 19-27). Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Bouij, C. (2004). Two theoretical perspectives on the socialization of music teachers. Action, Criticism and Theory for Music Education, 3(3), 2-14.

Burwell, K. (2005). A degree of independence: teachers' approaches to instrumental tuition in a university college. British Journal of Music Education, 22, 199-215 doi:10.1017/S0265051705006601.

Burwell, K. (2012). Apprenticeship in music: a contextual study for instrumental teaching and learning. International Journal of Music Education, 1-16. Retrieved from

Campbell, M. R. & Thompson, L. K. (2001). Preservice music educators’ images of teaching. Paper presented at the Desert Skies Symposium on Research in Music Education, Tuscon, AZ.

Campbell, M. R., Thompson, L. K., & Barrett, J. R. (2010). Constructing a personal orientation to music teaching. New York: Routledge.

Carey, G., Lebler, D., and Gall, S. (2012). Investigating the one to one conservatoire model. Scientia Paedagogica Experimentalis, 47(2), 175–198.

Collens, P. & Creech, A. (2013). Intersubjectivity in collaborative learning in one-to-one contexts.In Gaunt, H., and Westerlund, H. (Eds.) Collaborative Learning in Higher Music Education: Why, What and How? (pp. 151-161). Surrey, England: Ashgate.

Creech, A. & Hallam, S. (2010). Interpersonal interaction within the violin teaching studio: the influence of interpersonal dynamics on outcomes for teachers. Psychology of Music, 38(4), 403-421.doi: 10.1177/0305735609351913.

Creech, A. (2012). Interpersonal behaviour in one-to-one instrumental lessons: An observational analysis. British Journal of Music Education, 29(3), 387-407 doi: 10.1017/S026505171200006X.

Daniel, R. (2008). Group piano teaching. Saarbrucken, Germany: VDM Verlag.

Donald, E. (2012). Music performance students as future studio teachers: are they prepared to teach? In J. Weller (Ed). Educating professional musicians in a global context: draft proceedings of the 19th international seminar of the commission for the education of the professional musician (CEPROM). Retrieved from

Fredrickson, W. E. (2007). Music majors’ attitudes toward private lesson teaching after graduation: a replication and extension. Journal of Research in Music Education, 55, 326-343.

Gaunt, H. (2008). One-to-one tuition in a conservatoire: the perceptions of instrumental and vocal teachers. Psychology of Music, 36(2), 215-245.

Gaunt, H. (2011). Understanding the one to one relationship in instrumental/vocal tuition in Higher Education: comparing student and teacher perceptions. British Journal of Music Education, 28(2), 159-179.doi:10.1017/S0265051711000052.

Gaunt, H., Creech, A., Long M., & Hallam, S. (2012). Supporting conservatoire students towards professional integration: one-to-one tuition and the potential of mentoring. Music Education Research, 14(1), 25-43.

Gaunt, H., & Westerlund, H. (Eds.), (2013). Collaborative Learning in Higher Music Education: Why, What and How? Surrey, England: Ashgate.

Georgii-Hemming, E., & Westvall, M. (2010). Teaching music in our time: student music teachers' reflections on music education, teacher education and becoming a teacher. Music Education Research, 12(4), 353-367.

Haddon, E. (2009). Instrumental and vocal teaching: how do music students learn to teach? British Journal of Music Education, 26, 57-70. Retrieved from

Hanken, I. (2008). Using student evaluation of teaching as a means of improving individual instrumental teaching. In D. Bennett and M. Hannan (Eds.), Inside, Outside, Downside Up: Conservatoire Training and Musicians’ Work (pp. 194-204). Perth: Black Swan Press.

Johansson, K. (2012). Experts, entrepreneurs and competence nomads: the skills paradox in higher music education. Music Education Research, 14(1), 45-62.

Lebler, D. (2008). Perspectives on assessment in the learning of music. In D. Bennett and M. Hannan (Eds.), Inside, Outside, Downside Up: Conservatoire Training and Musicians’ Work (pp. 181-193). Perth: Black Swan Press.

Lennon, M. & Reed, G. (2012). Instrumental and vocal teacher education: competences, roles and curricula. Music Education Research, 14(3), 285-308.

Long, M., Creech, A., Gaunt, H., Hallam, S. & Robertson, L. (2012). Blast from the past: Conservatoire students' experiences and perceptions of public master classes. Musicae Scientiae, 16, 286-306.

Madsen, C. K., & Duke, R. A. (1985a). Perception of approval/disapproval in music education. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 85, 119-130.

Madsen, C. K, & Duke, R. A. (1985b). Observation of approval/disapproval feedback in music: perception versus actual classroom events. Journal of Research in Music Education, 33, 205-214.

Madsen, C. K, & Madsen, C. H. (1998). Teaching/Discipline: behavioral principles toward a positive approach. Raleigh, NC: Contemporary Publishing Co.

Parkes, K. A. and Daniel, R. (2013). Motivations impacting upon music instrument teachers’ decisions to teach and perform in higher education. British Journal of Music Education, 30(3), 397-414.

Parkes, K. A., Daniel, R., West, T., and Gaunt, H. (in press).Applied music studio teachers in higher education: exploring the impact of identification and talent on career satisfaction. International Journal of Music Education.

Parkes, K. A.and Wexler, M. (2012). The nature of applied music teaching experience: Common elements observed in the lessons of three applied teachers. Bulletin for the Council of Research in Music Education, 193, 45-62.

Presland, C. (2005). Conservatoire student and instrumental professor: the student perspective on a complex relationship. British Journal of Music Education, 22(3), 237-248.

Purser, D. (2005). Performers as teachers: exploring the teaching approaches of instrumental teachers in conservatoires. British Journal of Music Education, 22(3), 287-298.

Rowher, D. & Henry, W. (2004). University teachers’ perceptions of requisite skills and characteristics of effective music teachers. Journal of Music Teacher Education, 13(2), 18-27.

Saldana, J. (2009). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. London: Sage.

Schmidt, M. (1998). Defining ‘good’ music teaching: four student teachers’ beliefs and practices. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 138, 19-46.

Scott, O. A. (2015). Whiplash Review, New York Times. Retrieved from

Serra-Dawa, A. (2010). The teacher-student relationship in one-to-one singing lessons: a longitudinal investigation of personality and adult attachment. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

Slawsky, M. (2011). Transitioning from Student to Teacher in the Master-Apprentice Model of Piano Pedagogy: An Exploratory Study of Challenges, Solutions, Resources, Reflections, and Suggestions for the Future. PhD thesis, University of South Florida. Retrieved from

Taebel, D. K. (1980). Public school music teachers’ perceptions of the effect of certain competencies on pupil learning. Journal of Research in Music Education, 28, 185-197.

Teachout, D. J. (1997). Pre-service and experienced teachers’ opinions of skills and behaviors important to successful music teaching. Journal of Research in Music Education, 45, 41-50.

Triantafyllaki, A. (2005). A call for more instrumental music teaching research.Music Education Research, 7(3), 383-387.

Watson, A. (2010). Musicians as instrumental music teachers: issues from an Australian perspective. International Journal of Music Education, 28(2), 193-203.

Wexler, M. (2009). Investigating the secret world of the studio: a performer discovers research. Musical Perspectives, Spring.Retrieved from

Wöllner, C. & Ginsborg, J. (2011). Team teaching in the conservatoire: The views of musicperformance staff and students. British Journal of Music Education, 28(3), 301–323.

Zhukov, K. (2012). Teaching strategies and gender in instrumental studios. International Journal of Music Education, 30(1), 32-45.







Similar Articles

1-10 of 97

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.