Haphazard pathways: Students’ perceptions of their routes to music study in higher education in the United Kingdom

Zack Moir and Bryden Stillie

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Abstract:

This article reports on a qualitative study, which explored perceptions of fourteen first-year undergraduate music students in the United Kingdom regarding their secondary school music education as preparation for undertaking degree-level music study. The authors (both lecturers in popular music at a UK university) were motivated to undertake this research to explore issues of alignment between school music and music degrees in the United Kingdom and the pathways students constructed through this transition. Data pertain to three key areas: students’ perceptions of the extent that school music courses prepared them for university application, students’ descriptions of their extracurricular music activities, and areas that students would like to change about their secondary music courses. Findings suggest that all interviewees felt underprepared for university study by their secondary music courses, yet differences in perception exist between students who were accepted to ‘classical’ music degrees, and those who went on to study popular music.

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