Explicit Versus Performative Assessments in Music Pedagogical Interactions

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Research on teachers’ assessments of students’ playing within music lessons has mainly focused on verbal (spoken) evaluations of their learning. However, closer exploration of these interactions shows that embodied assessments, that is, those that also include non-verbal, multi-modal features as part of the interaction, are found to be particularly relevant when making assessments in performing domains such as music. The study's aim was to examine the different types of assessments made by teachers of their students’ playing, how they were responded to by the student, and the function they served in opening up the learning dialogue. 18 video recordings from one-to-one conservatoire music lessons were analysed and two types of assessments were identified: (1) Explicit, definite assessments that provided a clear statement of the students’ playing (e.g., ‘excellent’, ‘very good’) that resulted in closing down the learning dialogue; and (2) Performative, instructive assessments that were more complex evaluations of the students’ playing (e.g., ‘that's closer’, ‘it's too top heavy’) that necessitated further work, thus leading to a more detailed pedagogic interaction. Findings highlight the importance of looking at embodied assessments as essential components to the learning dialogue in music, as well as discussing the implications that the different types of assessments have for opening up and closing learning interaction
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-86
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Music Education
Issue number1
Early online date07 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2019


  • Assessments
  • embodied
  • music lesson
  • conservatoire
  • teacher


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