Master classes - What do they offer?
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Master classes are a common way to teach music performance, but how useful are they in helping young musicians in their musical development? Based on his experiences of master classes Lali (2003:24) states that “For better or for worse, master classes can be life-changing events.” Anecdotal evidence confirm that master classes can provide vital learning opportunities, but also that they can be of little use to the student, or worse, detrimental. Since master classes are a common component in the education of music students, it is important to develop a sound knowledge base in order to realize the potential of the master class as a teaching and learning arena. This was the motivation for inviting researchers who have studied master classes, musicians who give master classes, and heads of departments programming them, to an international symposium at The Norwegian Academy of Music 8–9 December 2011. The program and the list of participants can be found in appendices 1 and 2. During the symposium research studies were presented and discussed, video clips of master classes as well as three live master classes were observed and discussed. During the discussions of the live master classes, the “masters” themselves, the students who were being taught, and the accompanists participated. After the symposium, the participants have also shared some reflections and notes. The authors acknowledge the substantial input that the participants have given to this report. The aim of the report is to sum up some aspects that might be useful for musicians teaching master classes, for teachers preparing their students for master classes, and for heads of departments programming them. The focus is primarily on pedagogical issues; it is taken as a given that the musical quality of the teaching must be of a high standard if the master class is to be helpful for the students attending.