Processes of instrumental learning: The development of musical expertise

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters


This article explores the processes underlying learning to play an instrument. The processes underpinning the learning of a musical instrument require time, effort, and commitment, although the extent to which these are needed depends on the nature of the music itself and the particular cultural traditions that pertain in relation to its creation and performance. Widening participation in instrumental learning means that most learners will engage with music-making in the longer term as a recreational activity either through amateur music-making or as listeners. What they need to develop as a result of their learning is a love of music and the meta-cognitive skills that will support them throughout their lifetimes in whatever musical activities they choose to pursue. To reflect these changes, music educators need to consider what their curricular priorities should be. Learning is most enjoyable when what is to be learned is challenging (not too easy or too difficult) and there is a sense of achievement when it has been mastered. Copyright © 2012 Oxford University Press.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford handbook of music education
EditorsGary E. MCPHERSON, Graham F. WELCH
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199730810, 0199730814
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


Hallam, S., & Bautista, A. (2012). Processes of instrumental learning: The development of musical expertise. In G. E. McPherson & G. F. Welch (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of music education (Vol. 1, pp. 658-676). New York: Oxford University Press.


  • Musical instruments
  • Music learning
  • Music education
  • Music-making


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