Informal Learning: The Introduction of Musical Futures into the Secondary Music Classroom

Marina R Y Gall, Verity Stoffell

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paperpeer-review


In the UK, for many years, there has been considerable debate about the place of ‘popular’ music in schools (Swanwick, 1968; Vulliamy & Lee, 1982; Gammon, 1999; Crow, 2006). Green (2003) acknowledged the positive effects of including popular music in the curriculum, but stressed the need for this to be accompanied by informal learning practices adopted by the majority of popular musicians. Some time later, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation supported the development of ‘Musical Futures’ – a new pedagogical approach to musical teaching and learning in schools; its primary aim of was to maximise the enjoyment and achievement of all pupils in their musical learning within the classroom (Green, 2008). Musical Futures was seen as “a new way of thinking about music-making...that brings non-formal teaching and informal learning approaches into the more formal context of schools” (D’Amore et al., 2009, p. 9). Recently, the approach has been adopted by many schools across the UK (Musical Futures/Paul Hamlyn Foundation, undated).

This paper reports on the introduction of ‘Musical Futures’ into one secondary music teacher’s classroom work. The research questions were:
1. Is Musical Futures successful at increasing the enjoyment and achievement of all students?
2. What are the benefits and barriers of delivering this ‘informal learning’ scheme of work?
Methods used to address research question 1 were a student questionnaire, issued at the end of the project, and analysis of attainment data. Research question 2 was informed by the teacher’s observation notes made during and after teaching the scheme of work.

Key findings include:
a) the fact that informal principles of this teaching approach appear to be particularly suited to higher attaining individuals;
b) the need for teacher support - in a number of ways - for lower-attaining students (which somewhat contradicts the core tenets of the Musical Futures initiative);
c) the importance of sufficient instruments and ‘separate’ spaces for group work, for the success of this type of teaching approach.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Event21st EAS/International Society of Music Education (ISME) / European Regional Conference - Leuven, Belgium
Duration: 13 Feb 201316 Feb 2013


Conference21st EAS/International Society of Music Education (ISME) / European Regional Conference


  • Informal Learning, School Music, Musical Futures


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