Research in music education explores musical learning of all ages, but also explores musical knowledge and expertise in musicianship. In addition, music education research includes broader socio-cultural and psychological processes – including how music affects and affects feelings, how it shapes world images, and how music plays a role in the creation of identities and of human co-existence.
Research in practical music education has long been the largest part of the research at KMH, in close connection with the teacher education programmes.
As a music college, KMH has an important social task of protecting cultural traditions. At the same time, KMH must, through music education, evaluate and reassess previous education models so that they remain relevant.
KMH intends, with future efforts in this area, to strengthen both the pedagogical research itself and to visualize, critically review and develop its artistic education and their societal relevance.
Knowledge formation in music
Research in music education covers a broad and interdisciplinary field as it focuses on higher music education and contributes knowledge concerning its relationship to the surrounding, rapidly changing society. This openness of music education has been highlighted, for example, by the concept of musical knowledge creation, which includes both conceptual mediated comprehension processes and more implicit processes of musical learning and socialization.
In Music Education research, even music itself may often be interpreted in a relatively wide sense – for instance, by using the concept of musicking that, besides playing and singing, encompasses other forms of musical engagement such as listening.
As the world changes – say, through the processes of digitalization and globalization – forms of musical engagement change as well, and all this is reflected in a vibrant, constantly transforming field of Music Education research.
Broad research field
Research in music education is inspired by the psychology, sociology, and philosophy of music, as well as by music therapy, cultural-historical psychology, discourse theory, and artistic research. Interdisciplinary approaches are frequently applied.
Current research topics include:
- the role of musical instruments in higher education,
- classroom research,
- digital learning,
- music reading,
- musical listening and experience,
- multimodal meaning making in music,
- music in the Swedish cultural schools, and
- music as a complementary treatment in pain management.
KMH's research environment in music education
Since 1998, KMH has produced 16 doctoral dissertations in music education. Between 2008–2011, the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and the Stockholm University jointly hosted the National School of Research in Music Education, founded by the Swedish Research Council. Since 2012, doctoral degrees are examined in collaboration with the Lund University’s Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts at Malmö.
Ongoing, active research collaborations are fostered with colleagues in the USA, Germany, Belgium, Finland, and South Africa.
Within research in music education, researchers regularly discuss their work at a Text Seminar, and doctoral students have their own Doctoral Seminar. An important addition to these activities has been provided by the gatherings with colleagues from other institutions that have taken place in the context of the “Stockholm Group” of research in Music Education.
The Royal College of Music in Stockholm is itself responsible for courses in Educational Science within its music teacher program, which implies that KMH needs to maintain a groundedness of its activities in up-to-date educational research.
Another central field of research at KMH is Music and Health – understood as a multifaceted endeavor that investigates the possibilities of musically promoting human health and wellbeing. Research results in this field are called for and applied within health care, rehabilitation, social work, disability treatment, and special education.
Closely connected to an excellent music environment
Apart from seminars at the departmental level, the College provides a Higher Seminar for Research as well as a Pedagogical Forum – platforms for interdisciplinary discussions with working artists and colleagues pursuing artistic research in music. It is also natural, then, that a part of the music-educational research at the College has found its basis in contexts of higher music education (e.g., in the ongoing research project on the role of instruments in the lives of music performance students).
As an institution of artistic higher education, The Royal College of Music in Stockholm has a good reputation: in QS World University Rankings, it figures as Nr. 11 among universities within “performing arts”. This implies that the research environment in Music Education is characterized by its closeness to high-quality musical performance.