Doctoral Studies in the field of Music - Current studies and latest developments. (123 Kb)
DOCTORAL STUDIES IN THE FIELD OF MUSIC – CURRENT STATUS AND LATEST DEVELOPMENTS
By Ester Tomasi (ERASMUS Network for Music ‘Polifonia’) and Joost Vanmaele (Orpheus Instituut Gent)
Due to these facts, 3rd cycle studies was chosen as a subject of further inquiry in the framework of the ERASMUS Network for Music ‘Polifonia’ . ‘Polifonia’ is the largest European project on professional music training to date, involving more than 60 organisations in professional music training and the music profession from 32 European countries. During the first cycle of the network, which lasted from 1 October 2004 until 1 October 2007 and which was coordinated jointly by the Malmö Academy of Music – Lund University and the Association Européenne des Conservatoires, Academies de Musique et Musikhochschulen (AEC) , ‘Polifonia’ aimed at studying issues connected to the Bologna Declaration Process, collecting information on levels in music education other than the 1st (Bachelor) and the 2nd (Master) study cycles, and exploring changes in the music profession and their implications for professional music training. In May 2007, ‘Polifonia’ was selected by the European Commission as an ‘ERASMUS Success Story’.
3rd cycle studies in the Bologna Declaration terminology are studies that follow the 2nd (Master) cycle study in higher education in the framework of a three-cycle system. They are also referred to as ‘doctoral’ or ‘PhD’ studies but to avoid confusion or exclusion of certain types of study, the term ‘3rd cycle’ is being used in the ‘Polifonia’ project. Until recently, these studies were typically offered exclusively at universities and associated with scientific research. It is a challenge for music institutions to offer musicians, in addition to instrumental training and practice, a reflective environment as well that nourishes innovation and creativity paired with the extension of knowledge and artistic understanding. It becomes equally interesting when attempts are made to bridge the gap between theoretical research and instrumental practice.
A special ‘3rd cycle working group’ was set up in the framework of ‘Polifonia’ to look into this issue. The main objectives of the ‘Polifonia’ 3rd cycle working group were:
The working group members were experts in the field of 3rd cycle courses in music from the Orpheus Instituut in Gent, the Royal College of Music in London, the Universitatea Nationala de Muzica in Bucharest, the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano, the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, the University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Graz and the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Karlsruhe.
II. THE NATURE OF DOCTORAL COURSES IN MUSIC
As a condensed version of the guidelines mentioned in that paragraph one could state that, after acquiring musical skills and knowledge during the first cycle (bachelor) and applying these skills and knowledge to a certain field of expertise in the second cycle (master), the main objective of a third cycle in music is to expand the musical knowledge and understanding in a certain area.
A standard tool for the production and creation of knowledge and understanding is traditionally covered by the term research. Research, as formulated by the Research Assessment Exercise in the UK is indeed ‘an original investigation undertaken in order to gain knowledge and understanding’. Introducing research into a musical setting, adapting it to the characteristics of the discipline and thus creating a practice-based research environment for music practitioners, are therefore the main motives in the development of a doctoral curriculum in musical arts.
The matter has already been addressed in 2004 in the brochure of docARTES, the doctoral programme in the creative and performing arts organised by the Orpheus Institute, in cooperation with Flemish and Dutch partners:
‘Artists may create or re-create art works using a researching mind. But the PhD in the creative and performing arts is based on research that is deeper or broader in scope. Candidates must already be able to create or perform at a high international level. Their artistic work has raised questions or problems that can be further articulated and analysed only through research. Hence, by posing and resolving such issues, the artists also alter their creative or performing processes.’ (p.5)
To formulate practice-based research this way, explicitly unifies praxis and reflection and leads to new opportunities in the field of musical and artistic development. This approach has important implications on the research questions, research methods and research outcomes that are part of such a type of investigation. The unique view of somebody engaged in the investigation, the blending of subject (the researcher/musician) and object of investigation, the use of aesthetic judgements in addition to critical ones, the introduction of artistic experiments as part of the research process and the fact that the results of the research will also rely on a demonstrable component in addition to a verbal one, all these elements have to be taken into consideration in defining this new (or renewed) concept of practice as research.
Eight major higher education institutions in three European countries are currently joining forces to address these challenges and to create a new blueprint for a Doctoral Curriculum in Musical Arts (DoCuMa) . The DoCuMa project is set up and coordinated by the Orpheus Institute (Gent) and brings together the Royal College of Music, Royal Holloway London, University of Oxford (United Kingdom), the Orpheus Institute, Leuven University Association (Belgium), the Conservatory of Amsterdam, the Royal Conservatoire and Leiden University (The Netherlands). This project receives funding as an ERASMUS Curriculum Development project from the European Commission. Subject-specific topics related to tutoring, content of the doctoral curriculum, admission & evaluation criteria, research questions, research methods, research outcomes, etc. are being elaborated on and are moving towards an integrated approach. Comprising some of Europe’s most highly qualified professors, tutors and teachers, the team will pool its diverse expertise, energies and educational and research experience to develop a framework for a practice-based music doctorate.
The development phase of DoCuMa will last two years. Expected outputs (2008) include:
III. THE POLIFONIA/DUBLIN DESCRIPTORS AND LEARNING OUTCOMES FOR 3rd CYCLE STUDIES – ‘TUNING’ IN THE 3RD CYCLE IN MUSIC
The ‘Polifonia’ 3rd cycle working group was responsible with the ‘Polifonia’ ‘Tuning’ working group for the development of the learning outcomes and descriptors for 3rd cycle studies in music. In the formulation of the learning outcomes, the ‘Tuning’ methodology was also used. The latest version of the descriptors and learning outcomes can be found in Annexes A and B. Although the work on the descriptors has used an overall approach to all cycles, ensuring that there would be consistency and progression between the 3 cycles, only the descriptors and learning outcomes of the 3rd cycle are included here .
IV. A EUROPEAN MAPPING EXERCISES OF 3rd CYCLE COURSES IN MUSIC
The topics of the questionnaire were:
The outcomes of the questionnaire show a fascinating overview of the current status of 3rd cycle courses in music in Europe. It is clear that 3rd cycle studies in music are a rather new phenomenon, although some institutions have already a long tradition in offering such studies. The main reason for this situation could be that institutions aiming at training musicians at the higher education level traditionally offer vocational training that leads to a career as a professional musician or in some cases also as a music teacher. Offering 3rd cycle or doctoral studies has always been the competence of universities. Moreover, institutions that offer professional music training have not uniformly been regarded as higher education institutions by the authorities and in some countries still lack this status or the full eligibility to develop a 3rd cycle structure as defined by the Bologna Process. Historically, universities have been the institutions that were in charge of theory and the sciences.
Conservatoires are dedicated to the artistic training of various musical instruments or the voice. But training in music is not devoid of inquiry, theory and reflection. The highly trained musician also seeks to achieve deep understanding and progress at the forefront of the art not only through playing or singing but also by investigating into the pieces of music, the composers’ intentions with the music, the art of playing by different interpreters or in different musical traditions. In some individuals this methodological search for more in- depth and structured information about music, a more rational and descriptive approach towards artistic reality is an inner vocation equally strong as performing itself. For those purposes, it would seem logical to be able to research and communicate about music in all circumstances and from all aspects within the institutions with the main body of knowledge and by those persons that are performers, not only by the institutions that offer musicology as a scientific study field. For this reason amongst others, professional music training institutions have started to develop doctoral studies of various kinds as well.
The institutions having taken the lead in this development are not very numerous, but it is clear the interest is growing and those that have established such 3rd cycles have had to meet the highest standards in scientific and artistic work. According to data available from 225 members of the European Association of Conservatories (AEC) in December 2005, 44 institutions of higher music education state they offer a 3rd cycle study. Those institutions have been asked some additional questions about the nature and the practicalities of the 3rd cycle studies offered. The results are presented in the short overview below. Please note that additional information on individual 3rd cycle study programmes are available in institutional overviews, which have also been produced by the working group and which will be published on the ‘Polifonia’ website.
Title of the 3rd cycle study programme
However, with the title of studies and the degrees awarded it has to be kept in mind that there is a language issue involved. The institutions were asked to give the name in the original language as well as a translation into English. It is clear that, as is the case in other comparability issues, the description of content and learning outcomes are better tools to describe the nature of the study.
One third of the institutions offering a 3rd cycle do not have the legal right to award the doctoral qualification within their walls, but rely upon cooperation. Those institutions are situated in the UK, Sweden, Belgium and Belarus. For the institution in Belgium it has to be mentioned that the Orpheus Institute in Gent is a unique institution. As an institution concentrating solely on postgraduate studies in music it offers 3rd cycle studies in music in cooperation with surrounding Belgian and Dutch universities. The institution in Belarus is the only one that needs a state body to confirm the awarding of the degree by the Academy .
The cooperation in the frame of single courses or supervision shows that some institutions allow their 3rd cycles students to gather expertise wherever it is offered. Especially at this level of higher education, specialisation is required to be able to operate on the forefront of the field. This concerns students as well as institutions.
Cooperation in mobility seems to be a less important issue in 3rd cycle studies in music. Only one institution mentions it throughout the questionnaire although it has to be remarked that the issue has not been especially addressed in the questions.
Process of admission
Only some institutions additionally require one of the following:
4. Admission exam and/or audition
Generally it has to be remarked that the applicants for 3rd cycle studies are apparently very carefully selected in most of the institutions as they undergo a sometimes extensive admission procedure and in some cases even have to demonstrate proficiency in their field of study. On the other hand, nearly a third of the answering institutions do not even require a research proposal by the applicant.
Compulsory course elements
An overview of the compulsory elements of 3rd cycle studies in music shows the following result:
The ‘seminar’ category that scores highest according to the above displayed list has been set up as a common category for the specific 3rd cycle courses that have not been defined in more detail. It can comprise elements of the less frequently mentioned course topics or be related to the student’s inquiry topic and therefore individual to each doctoral candidate.
Duration of studies
The supervision consists of regular meetings with the supervisor(s). In one case this happens on a weekly basis, in others at least twice a term. Some institutions mention that in the initial phase of the studies the student is given more guidance than in a later stage. 6 institutions also mention that there is a regular possibility for students to discuss their work and progress with a team of peers and/or academic staff involved in research and 3rd cycle work.
In more than half of the institutions the student is involved in the process of, or solely responsible for, choosing the supervisor(s). In the other cases it is a committee or a 3rd cycle/research commission that chooses the supervisor(s) or the head/dean/chair of the faculty or research department.
The supervisor(s) are in most cases not appointed by the same body that chooses them. The appointment is in one single case a matter for the Ministry of Education and Research . In another case, all staff members with a 3rd cycle degree appoint supervisor(s). In some cases, this is a task of a special board but in most cases the supervisor(s) are appointed by senior administrative staff. Most supervisors have to be teaching staff members in the institutions where the student studies. Sometimes supervisors additionally need a PhD or 3rd cycle degree themselves or equivalent artistic experience. In some cases they are not required to be teachers but can also be researchers only, holding a 3rd cycle degree. Some institutions allow supervision only by staff members that already have supervising experience; this is usually connected to team supervision, where not every supervisor has to be qualified in the same way, but is usually a specialist in his own field. In some exceptional occasions an external consultant can be allowed to supervise and is chosen according to his/her outstanding expertise.
Requirements for teaching staff on 3rd cycle level
Nearly all 3rd cycle studies in music for promotion require a thesis and a public defence. This is logical for theory/research based 3rd cycle studies. It is remarkable that for most 3rd cycle studies that have an artistic emphasis, the candidates are asked to give a concert or a similar event, and to write a thesis, which has to be defended in public. There are few variations of this concept to reach the artistic aim of the courses and it is combined in a sensitive way with research or inquiry that has to be explained to an examination board in a final presentation. In theory, the nature of a 3rd cycle qualification in music could be purely scientific (musicology), a combination between theory and artistic practice or purely artistic. However, the purely artistic doctorate is hard to imagine as it would not involve any of the classical elements of a doctoral thesis, which traditionally is the final outcome of research/inquiry related to one or more initial hypotheses based on some kind of revisable and traceable documentation. As the survey in the frame of the ‘Polifonia’ project showed, in none of the existing 3rd cycle studies in music the approach is purely artistic. Therefore, a written piece of work of one or the other kind is always part of a 3rd cycle in music as well.
An example of the range a 3rd cycle promotion can cover in higher music education institutions is stated in the regulations of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Dance:
"RSAMD will accept any one of three possible forms of submission for a research degree. The final proposal as to which form of submission is most appropriate to a student’s work will be agreed between the student and her/his supervisors and submitted to the Research Degrees Committee for approval in good time before the anticipated date of submission. Three forms of submission for the degrees of MPhil and PhD will be acceptable. In the following examples (which relate to PhD), the word “portfolio” is used to signify the presence of performance-centred and/or practice-based work in a submission, and therefore in a student’s research processes throughout her/his programme of study. Candidates will be examined on their submissions through a viva voce.
Composition of the final examination/evaluation committee
Most committees are composed of 3 people or more, up to 12 members. Only in 3 institutions there are only 2 people sitting in the final examination committee.
For the most part, the qualification of the members in the final exam is an academic one. They are professors or senior teaching staff members in higher education institutions. Sometimes experts can be invited to take part in the committee. Students do usually not take part in the committee. Only one institution declared that this is the case in their final evaluation commission. The supervisor of the student is sometimes part of the board, sometimes only allowed to be present without a voice in the final discussion.
Relation between research and artistic practice
13 of 30 respondents classified their studies as research-led. 17 stated that their studies are a combination of research and artistic practice. In the later category, one statement made under ‘other’ has been included, which read ‘practice-led research’. The majority of the 3rd cycle studies offered in professional music training institutions are therefore a combination of research and artistic practice, which indicates the importance of having a clear picture of what this means in terms of content, outcome and evaluation standards.
It is not a big surprise after having learned this fact that institutions give much attention to the student’s artistic development during 3rd cycle studies. More than two-thirds of the institutions declare that they do so, which means that this happens even in some studies that are research-based only.
In more than half the institutions, a completed 3rd cycle has also an effect on the salary of the teacher holding a 3rd cycle degree. Surprisingly enough, a 3rd cycle, and therefore a better education, in nearly half of the institutions does not lead to higher payment.
Competences – Learning outcomes
V. FUTHER WORK
In addition, a seminar on 3rd cycle studies in music also took place at the Staatliche Musikhochschule in Karlsruhe on 29-30 March 2007 , during which the work of the ‘Polifonia’ working group was presented to a wider audience and feedback from the participants was invited. The above-mentioned guide was also presented at this event.
Finally, the role of research in conservatoires in general will be discussed in the second cycle of the ERASMUS Network ‘Polifonia’ in the period 2007-2010 . In the framework of this project, research will be approached from the perspective of all cycles, not just related to the third cycle.
- What is Tuning?
- Tuning Academy
- Tuning Information Centres
- Tuning Methodology
- Subject Areas
- SQF Humanities and Arts
- Tuning SQF Social Sciences
- Tuning - 3rd Cycle
- Tuning Latin America (2011-2013)
- Tuning USA
- EU/US Research Project
- Tuning Russia
- Tuning Africa
- Tuning China
- Tuning Journal
- Tuning: A Tale of Adventures in Learning - from Lumina Foundation