Star-like experience or gym aesthetics? A study of quality perceptions in school concert practices

Prosjektleiar: Associate Professor Kari Holdhus

The project is a finalised PhD-project and describes how artistic and didactic quality can be constructed in school concert practices, and how such opinions of quality can influence on the status of school concerts in schools.

The study was inspired by sociocultural theorists, in particular Bourdieu. His in-depth study of “The Rules of Art” (1996) and “The Field of Cultural Production” (1993) makes an important starting point in order to understand a circular production of faith that permits  a work-oriented paradigm to dominate  artistic  quality opinions in school concert practices as well as in other concert practices. The study is also based on former and present theories on education, learning and aesthetics. I look upon John Dewey’s aesthetic philosophy and learning philosophy in relation to other theories on learning (Gergen 2009 , Biesta 2004). In the study I discuss the relationship of these theories with present relational esthetic practices, such as relational aesthetics (Bournaud 2002) and “The Educational Turn in Art” (O’Neill & Wilson 2010).

The study is a case study of four productions randomly chosen from the school concert programme set up by Rikskonsertene in 2010/2011.

The analysis indicates that the work-oriented paradigm of quality triggers many opinions of what a school concert can be in terms of quality, possibilities and limits. I find that it is the art discourse in practice that has the power of definition; accordingly the practice is based primarily on artistic criteria. Some participating musicians are of the opinion that concerts should be looked upon as a purely artistic experience that cannot have/should not have anything to do with learning.

Thus, on this background the study identifies obvious needs of developing a paradigm of quality where the art discourse and the school discourse are equal in the eyes of the participants and their view on quality. Such a development should open up for constant negotiating and redefining the criteria of school concert practices.