Researching experience-centred teaching and learning in Higher Education – Receptive-responsive dialogue in the Kokas pedagogy

Year: 2018

Author: Vass, Eva, Deszpot, Gabriella

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The paper is part of an expanding research collaboration with the Kodály Institute on experience-centred music education. The focus is on the Kokas pedagogy: an experiential extension of the world-renown Kodaly principle of music education combining music, movement and reflection. The paper discusses the HE strand of this research, which probes into the adaptability and the transformative potentials of this pedagogy in the context of music teacher education.
Our previous work (Vass & Deszpot, 2016) looked at the key tensions and challenges, as formulated by Master's students enrolled in an introductory elective unit on this pedagogy. Returning to the phenomenological roots of dialogicality (Merleu Ponty, Buber), and drawing on the key principles of Natural Inclusionality (Rayner, 2018, 2017), this paper shifts the focus to the exploration of musical co-creativity and learning.
The data include video recordings of all sessions of a focal student cohort (9 3-hour sessions in total, with 10 students), visual documentation of creative products (paintings, drawings), records of email-based dialogues between teachers and students, and students’ self-reflective compositions (the main assessment task).
The qualitative analysis involved the triangulation of the observational data (of both movement and collective reflection) and individual reflective compositions. The analysis looked into the development of musical co-creativity: the process of imaginative (re)-opening to self and world, as captured in the musically inspired movement and reflected on by participants. Three criteria were identified for the documentation of such openings of musical co-creativity: i) body-music connectivity, ii) receptive-responsive presence and iii) creative attunement. This paper focuses on the latter two.
The analysis has captured the infinitude of creative connectivity in the focal student cohort. It reveals the importance (and inseparability) of physical and inner opening to self and world. Importantly, such instances of deep cohesion do not build on language, and cannot as such be explained as arising from the strategic, intellectualised, negotiation of difference. The expansion of intersubjectivity is experience-generated, whereby the participants’ awareness is gradually brought back to natural continuity through a fluid, mutually receptive-responsive bodily dialogue. It is posited that the collective, embodied encounters with music signify deep learning and reach beyond the often superficial knowledge and praxis of intellectually constituted thought and language. These encounters prove to be the fountain of new, creative forms of perceiving, knowing and relating. Embodied dialogue becomes the catalyst of deep cohesion, creative connectivity and pedagogic metamorphosis.