Development Work

“Theory in practice” by Itte Lundgren

Researcher: Itte Lundgren

Ämne: Opera

“Theory in practice – or practice in theory?” is a development work by Itte Lundgren, Assistant Professor of ear/music theory.

Itte Lundgren’s project “Theory in practice – or practice in theory?” examines whether specialised teaching material can simplify and improve opera students’ studies and advance their interpretations.

Goal & purpose

The aim of the project is to produce material that can function as a tool and bank of ideas with which the teaching process can be developed, with particular reference to artistic competence.

The purpose of the project is to find new ways of learning for opera students that are pleasurable, creative and effective. Music theory and pitch have not traditionally played a prominent role in opera education programmes in Sweden. One theory is that this is at least partly due to the material used in teaching students being perceived as remote and irrelevant, as dry and boring without any connection to their musical everyday lives.

In the twenty years during which the researcher has worked at the University College of Opera in Stockholm, she has always prepared teaching material collected from opera and romance literature, and her experience has been that this stimulated the students to work in ways that would otherwise not have been possible. The students experienced the work as pleasurable in a completely different way from working with just études, and the knowledge imparted was able to be absorbed much more effectively when it was based on material they had worked with in some other way, in a real-life situation. In this project the researcher wants to explore whether it is possible to go even further with educational material that has been worked through more thoroughly.

Research questions

Is it possible to simplify and improve opera students’ studies and advance their interpretations by means of specialised teaching material? Can this also strengthen the artistic process and give the students tools to achieve an even more individual performance

How the project will be carried out

The first phase involves the compilation of material based on existing (both older and newer) opera and romance repertoire. The idea is to create tasks of all kinds, which the students may then work on for a period of time. The next stage will involve the collection and compilation of the students’ comments and reflections. The material will then be presented (potentially after supplements and changes) in the form of a tool and bank of ideas that can be used to improve the teaching process, with particular reference to artistic competence.

The first phase – the compilation of the material – is intended to be completed in the spring of 2017. Once the material has been worked with in practice, an assessment will be made, both by students and teaching colleagues, and after that the material and a description of the process will be completed.

Final presentation of the project

The project will result on the one hand in some practical working material for opera singers and on the other in a written compilation of the study after the material has been in use over a period of time.

The description of the process and working material will be presented at a seminar after the second phase. The practical working material will then be distributed within a number of existing networks.