Teaching music musically: Song teaching strategies used by Hong Kong primary school music teachers

Man Tan CHOI

Research output: ThesisHonours Projects (HP)


Swanwick (2012), a music education expert, has been promoting the music education concept of “teaching music musically” which spotlights “understanding music as a philosophical focus” for years. It is believed that “teaching music musically” is an important theory to nurture students’ music understanding and ability. He uses a metaphor to conclude three principles for teaching music musically: 1) Care for music as a discourse 2) Care for the musical discourse of students 3) Fluency first and last. Base on his definition and other music educator references, this paper interprets “teaching music musically” as 1) Building musical understanding: understand music in context 2) Displaying musical understanding: Engaging in Composing, Performing & Audience-listening 3) Immersion in music: Sound before symbols. Swanwick (2012) has illustrated “teaching music musically” with four teaching examples from western countries. Many of them are for secondary school students and most of them required a lot of musical instruments and resources. Although the Curriculum Development Council (CDC) has provided many suggestions on creating, performing and listening activities for primary school song teaching, relatively little empirical evidence can be discovered regarding which and how the various song teaching strategies are employed in Hong Kong. Hence, this paper aims to understand the actual situation and the limitation of the Hong Kong primary school in-service music teachers in applying the “teaching music musically” principles and the music strategies recommended by the CDC. This article presents three case studies to collect the song teaching strategies under the music education principles of “teaching music musically”, and the factors affecting strategies adoption in Hong Kong primary schools. Qualitative data was collected through naturalistic six class observations and three semi-structured interviews. The study found a set of useful song teaching strategies to “teach music musically” and the factors affecting the adoption of particular strategies. The finding also revealed the ideal music education may strike a balance between “caring for students’ motivation” and “implementation of teaching-music-musically principles or music pedagogies” and include more composing activities.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationBachelor of Education (Honours)
  • WONG, Wai Ching, Zerlina 黃慧晶, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Honours Project (HP)
  • Bachelor of Education (Honours) (Music) (Five-year Full-time)
  • Programme code: A5B064
  • Course code: MUS4902


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