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Research Briefing

Plain English Summary

Research Summary

Intentions Poster

Outcomes Poster

Full Report


Project Website



Phase III Research Network:


Learning to perform: Instrumentalists and instrumental teachers (2004 - 2008)

This project has now completed. Major outputs include:


Dr. Janet Mills (Royal College of Music, London)
Rosie Burt (Royal College of Music, London)


Project Summary
This project examined learning in western classical musical performance. Specifically, it brought together rich, detailed information from the training of adult musicians at the Royal College of Music, London (RCM). The project developed basic theory and practice for expertise development in music performance, with the aim of translating this into basic theory and practice for expertise development in other fields.

The main objectives of the project were:

  • to clarify (through observation, interview, questionnaire and the results of routine institutional assessments) how students studying western classical music learn to be performers, as a result of personal qualities, instruction, practice and engagement in a learning culture;
  • to establish whether students’ learning may be enhanced through interventions that are derived from recent research projects at the Royal College of Music (RCM), devised specially, or derived from  provision in other institutions, and
  • to address the application of the research findings to expertise in fields other than music performance (e.g. mathematics, football, song-writing) through the provision of specially designed interventions and by considering the conditions under which expertise develops.

This four-year initiative consisted of a longitudinal investigation of learning at the RCM. An overarching longitudinal survey employs measures that are generic and music-specific, and houses data at the level of students, teachers and institutions. Student interviews allowed for the collection of rich and detailed longitudinal data.  

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