The musical competence of generalist teachers, in both early childhood (EC) and primary education, is a crucial prerequisite to ensure musical provision for children. This has become a concern for many scholars because research representing countries from all over the world indicates a general tendency wherein generalist teachers encounter significant difficulties when providing music in their teachings, either as a specific subject or integrated interdisciplinary with other subject areas (Holden & Button, 2006). The problem is evidently linked to their lack, or perceived lack, of musical competence, which can further be linked to other influential factors like confidence, motivation, attitude, values, previous experiences, and the significance of others (e.g., colleagues and peers). A teacher without musical competence will typically avoid teaching music if they can, but also, in some cases, be unwillingly forced to teach music without sufficient subject and music pedagogical competence. In this case, children are denied the opportunity to experience, express, learn, and enjoy music during their early and crucial years of development. Exposure to engaging music activities is crucial for children’s musical development. Music is also a powerful benefactor for children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development (Hallam, 2010).
This PhD project aims to shed further light on the situation of generalist EC teachers and their musical competence By applying a broader understanding of 'competence,' this research includes the cognitive domain, comprising teachers’ technical, pedagogical, and musical skills and knowledge, along with the affective-motivational domain, comprising teachers’ beliefs, attitudes, and motivation (König, 2022). This framework can potentially be more efficient to understand generalists’ complex musical profile. As a teacher trainer at QMUC, I am personally committed in the effort to provide preservice EC teachers sufficient musical competence, and I will utilize this PhD project to explore factors that enable and disable their potential to convey music in their profession. My PhD involves cooperation with affiliated EC institutions through LUBA.
The PhD project outlines three studies intended for three journal publications. (1) The first study is a systematic meta-narrative review (Wong et al., 2013) that investigates approximately 240 peer-reviewed research sources (mainly journal articles, but also some doctoral theses) empirically exploring the musical competency of generalist EC and/or primary teachers. The review aims to discover and discuss overarching similarities and discrepancies found in the included papers. (2) The second study invites EC pre-service, EC in-service teachers, and EC teacher trainers to discuss the needs of EC practitioners to be successful in their musical teachings. Qualitative data (group discussions, presentations, and written reflections) have been collected to identify conditions crucial for stimulating EC practitioners’ musical competence. (3) The third study is intended to incorporate an intervention generated from studies 1 and 2, seeking to improve the musical competency of EC pre-service students within the limited time frame of EC higher institutions providing students’ musical education. The PhD project is in affiliation with LUBA (lærerutdanningsbarnehager) at DMMH.