Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Keyboard Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Ita Beausang


This study presents an account of practice-based educational research that was conducted during three half-year cycles between 2008 and 2010 in the CIT Cork School of Music (CSM) piano laboratories with Junior piano pupils and their teachers as participants. The study sought to explore teaching approaches in the PianoLab classes and to evaluate interlinking resources for young pianists in the context of their wider music education.

In line with action-oriented qualitative methods, the first cycle involved preliminary data gathering, through questionnaires and interviews, from musicianship and piano teachers on topics related to teaching materials. Subsequently, a Focus Group was set up to facilitate interaction on curriculum planning for the PianoLab.

During the second cycle, materials were evaluated by teachers and pupils. This data was included in a Course Portfolio, in which a course unit was designed, enacted and realised. A Teaching for Understanding (TfU) framework incorporating a constructivist theory of learning was used as a pedagogical approach.

In collaboration with PianoLab teachers, feedback from course evaluation was gathered from other CIT Cork School of Music teachers, students and parents. Findings from these qualitative data, interpreted thematically, suggested that the TfU instructional design developed qualitative aspects of student work in the early stages of the acquisition of new skills, and that participation in the ensemble music-making aspect of the PianoLab programme had provided an impetus for learning during this acquisition.

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