Signature pedagogies for musical practice: A case study of creativity development in an orchestral composers’ workshop

Karlin G. Love, Margaret S. Barrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The training of aspiring professional composers is a largely under-investigated area. Learning pathways into the profession tend to involve a university composition degree and participation in workshops with professional ensembles. These workshops constitute a form of industry experience undertaken in the transition from university to professional practice. Lee Shulman proposed the concept of signature pedagogies using a framework of cognitive, practical and moral apprenticeships to demonstrate distinctive qualities of professional preparation in the fields of medicine, law and the clergy. In order to understand what might be characteristic features of a signature pedagogy in the preparation of professional composers, this case study examines teaching and learning practices and structures evidenced through a one-week composers’ workshop hosted by a professional symphony orchestra and led by eminent composer-teachers. Observation of rehearsals, masterclasses and in-depth interviews with student-composers, composer-teachers and conductor generated data that were analysed initially to identify emergent themes and subsequently through lenses of creativity development and signature pedagogies. Findings demonstrate that this workshop provides risk-laden, authentic experience, and guided apprenticeships in cognitive, practical and moral aspects of professional practice. It provides a space in which composers, typically freelancers, acquire understandings of orchestral culture and practical skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-567
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology of Music
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • apprenticeship
  • artistic practice
  • creative practice
  • Emerging composer
  • eminent teacher
  • orchestra
  • signature pedagogy

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