Music-related learning processes

The research group focuses on music-related learning processes, their structures, contexts, influencing factors, and related didactical aspects.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The research group is a part of the research division Art, Drama and Music

The research group Music-related learning processes at Nord University currently has 13 members belonging to the Faculty of Education and Arts, and consists of four PhD projects and four research projects in collaboration with researchers in Norway, Finland and Germany.

The research group is a part of Music pedagogy in development (MiU), a music education research network of the institutions in Middle-Norway that offer music teacher education (for kindergarten, primary school, cultural school, high school and researchers): Nord University, Queen Maud University College (DMMH) and NTNU.

In terms of content, the projects cover a broad spectrum from student-oriented studies (e.g., musical competence development) to the music teachers' profession. The studies have in common that they focus on music-related learning processes, their structures, contexts, influencing factors, and related didactical aspects. Most projects include students either as a participant (eg interview partner) or co-researcher (eg master's theses).

The projects share the empirical approach as well; but here too, a large spectrum is covered from arts-based research and qualitative studies to quasi-experimental methodological designs.

Since 2019 the research group conducted several conferences and will contribute to the various anthologies published in MiU's direction from 2020. A joint conference with MiU is planned for the spring of 2022.

Research projects

Music related argumentative competence (MARKO) – test development and model validation

The project is led by Jens Knigge.

The reflection and the aesthetic judgment of music hasn’t been an object of the empirical research on musical competences in music education. Especially argumentation plays an integral part in music education and Rolle (2013) has developed a model for music-related argumentative competence. 

The aim of this project is to develop a competency test in order to validate Rolle's model. The project is conducted in cooperation between Cologne University (Julia Ehninger, Christian Rolle) and Nord University (Jens Knigge).


Ehninger, J.; Knigge, J.; Gottschalk, T. & Rolle, C. (2018). Music-related argumentative competence: Development of a competency test. Paper presentation, 26th EAS Conference, Jelgava, 16.3.2018.

Ehninger, J.; Gottschalk, T.; Knigge, J & Rolle, C. (2017). Musikbezogene Argumentationskompetenz – Pilotierung von Testaufgaben. Poster at the 39th AMPF conference, 6.-8.10.2017, Bad Wildbad. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.25558.70725

Project partners: 

Advisory board: 

AppKOM – Competency Development and Structures in Non-Formal Music Classes

The project is led by Jens Knigge.

The research project addresses the educational potential arising from the changes of musical practices in the context of the development of mobile digital media. 

AppKOM addresses the following research question: What are the particular forms of music learning and competence development that occur in informal and non-formal settings? Thus, the project investigates competency development and competency structures as a function of musical learning in informal and non-formal settings. AppKOM is located at the University of Music Lübeck and conducted in cooperation with Nord University, University of applied science Potsdam, and UDK Berlin. 

Project webpage:   


Hasselhorn, J. & Knigge, J (in press): Technology-Based Competency Assessment in Music Education: the KOPRA-M and KoMus Tests. In: Lehmann-Wermser, A, & Breiter, A. (Eds.): Testing and Feedback in Music Education – Symposium Hannover 2017. Hannover: ifmpf.

Godau, M.; Eusterbrock, L.; Haenisch, M.; Hasselhorn, J.; Knigge, J.; Krebs, M.; Rolle, C.; & Stenzel, M. & Weidner, V. (2019): MuBiTec – Musikalische Bildung mit mobilen Digitaltechnologien. In: Jörissen, B.; Kröner, S. & Unterberg, L. (Eds.): Forschung zur Digitalisierung in der Kulturellen Bildung. München: kopaed, pp. 63-83.

Hasselhorn, J. & Knigge, J. (2018): Kompetenz und Expertise. In: Dartsch, M.; Knigge, J.; Niessen, A.; Platz, F. & Stöger, C. (Ed.): Handbuch Musikpädagogik. Münster: Waxmann, pp. 197-207.

Project partners: 

Marc Godau, Fachbereich Musikpädagogik und Musikdidaktik, Fachhochschule Clara Hoffbauer Potsdam.

Matthias Krebs, Forschungsstelle Appmusik, Universität der Künste Berlin.

Johannes Hasselhorn, Musikhochschule Lübeck 

Daniel Fiedler, Musikhochschule Lübeck 

Advisory board: 

MuBiTec research network

Christian Rolle, Universität zu Köln 
Linus Eusterbrock, Universität zu Köln 
Verena Weidner, Universität Erfurt
Matthias Haenisch, Universität Erfurt 
Maurice Stencel, Universität Erfurt

Music pedagogy in development (MiU)

Musical skills and their relevance to reading / writing development

The project is led by Jens Knigge.

Phonological awareness is an important cognitive basis and predictor of reading / writing development in children. However, musical perception and reproduction skills (such as the distinction of different rhythms, clapping of a rhythm, etc.) may be relevant for reading / writing development since language and music processing have some similarities. 

Various studies have found correlations between musical skills (for example, rhythm and melody perception) and phonological awareness or reading / writing development. Thus, it may be possible to use diagnostic procedures for pre-school music processing to assess a potential risk of reading and writing difficulties. However, existing music-related diagnostic instruments are largely useless, since they are mainly designed for older children, the psychometric quality is often not sufficient, or the tests cover only partly the relevant musical skills. Therefore, it is necessary to develop / adapt new test tasks for a diagnostic instrument regarding musical skills. Since reading / writing difficulties are associated with deficits according to temporal and spectral (frequency) processing, it is reasonable to develop test tasks primarily according to temporal (rhythm, meter, tempo, accent) and spectral processing of musical information. (harmony, timbre, pitch).


Knigge, J. (2011): Modellbasierte Entwicklung und Analyse von Testaufgaben zur Erfassung der Kompetenz „Musik wahrnehmen und kontextualisieren". Münster: LIT.

Knigge, J., Sallat, S., Mannhaupt, G., & Steinbrink, C. (in preparation). Assessment of music perception from pre-school to grade 3 – Adaption and psychometric evaluation of subtests from the "Montreal Battery of Evaluation of Musical Abilities" (MBEMA) and Jungbluth's "Music Screening for children I".

Sallat, S. & Jentschke, S. (2015): Music perception influences language acquisition – Melodic and rhythmic-melodic perception in children with and without specific language impairment. Behavioural Neurology. Volume 2015​​​​ (2015),

Steinbrink, C., Klatte, M. & Lachmann, T. (2014). Phonological, temporal and spectral processing in vowel length discrimination is impaired in German primary school children with developmental dyslexia. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 35, 3034-3045.

Steinbrink, C.; Knigge, J.; Mannhaupt, G.; Sallat, S. & Werkle, A. (2019): Are Temporal and Tonal Musical Skills Related to Phonological Awareness and Literacy Skills? – Evidence From Two Cross-Sectional Studies With Children From Different Age Groups. In: Frontiers in Psychology, 10:805. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00805

Project webpage

Project partners: 

Claudia Steinbrink (Universität Erfurt) 

Gerd Mannhaupt (Universität Erfurt) 

Stephan Sallat (Universität Halle) 

Advisory board: 

K2S Research Network 

Music pedagogy in development (MiU)

Singing in Kindergartens and Schools – a survey study

The project is led by Jens Knigge.

The project is part of the research-network SangBarSk (Singing in kindergartens and schools) which includes representatives from all higher teacher education institutions in Norway and constitutes an “umbrella” for research on singing in kindergarten and school. In this context – and with support from the Norwegian Arts Council – researchers from OsloMet and Nord University are conducting a national survey study. 

The aim of this study is to investigate the status quo of singing in Norwegian kindergartens and schools, in other words: what is sung where and when, by whom, in what ways, and for what purposes? Hence, the study has two main objectives: (a) At a descriptive level, the survey aims to map out the situation with regard to the use of singing in Norwegian kindergartens and schools; b) Simultaneously, the survey will  shed light on whether there is a systematic connection between context (for example city/country, size of kindergarten/school etc.), the teacher’s person (age, education, musical expertise, attitude to singing etc.) and the actual use of singing.

Balsnes, A. H., Hagen, L. A., Knigge, J. & Schei, T. B. (2020). SangBarSk – Singing in Kindergartens and Schools. Paper presentation, NNMPF Conference, Copenhagen, 4.3.2020.

Project webpage:

Project partners: 
Anne Haugland Balsnes (Universitetet i Agder) 
Liv Anna Hagen (OsloMet) 
Ingrid Danbolt (OsloMet) 
Siri Haukenes (OsloMet) 
Tiri Bergesen Schei​ (Høgskulen på Vestlandet) 

Advisory board: 
Music pedagogy in development (MiU)

Multimodal Mentoring in Music Teacher Training (MoVeM)

Project leader: Jens Knigge​

Work package leaders: Laila Grendahl, Ola Buan Øien, Tony Mathisen (Stokkan ungdomsskole)

Project participants (Nord University): Anders Dalane, Solveig Salthammer Kolaas, Ola Marius Ryan, Rolf Martin Snustad, Mattis Kleppen

Project participants (external): Maria Stattin (Inderøy vgs.), Rasmus Seloter (Levanger kulturskole), Klara Vik Aarmo (Mosvik grunnskole)

The main objective of the MoVeM project is to implement and evaluate a digital mentoring technology to develop and stimulate quality improvement of mentoring practices at music teacher training institutions in Norway.

Heterogeneity in practice phases for our music students is high. This includes practice in different schools (primary, lower/upper secondary), schools of music and performing arts (“kulturskole”) and project practice within music projects in society. A special need music students have, is the supervision of practical (i.e. artistic) preparation, observation and reflection. Traditional practice supervision (verbal/written) appears in this context as insufficient, and MoVeM therefore focuses on multimodal approaches, which can provide a richer approach to the non-verbal that occurs in music education. In the light of the MoVeM project, we see a need to introduce a similar multimodal mentoring technology and thus to raise the digital competence of university staff and partners from the practice field. 

Implementation of MoVeM is planned for students and teachers affiliated to three cohorts at the music teacher training at North University (campus Levanger), who follow the project for four semesters. The project follows the structure of the study programs related to different practice arenas (primary/secondary school, school of music and performing art, and project practice). MoVeM therefore consists of practitioners in the respective schools/institutions, students and university teachers. 

The research team is conducting a comprehensive formative and summative evaluation study to examine the use and implications of MoVeM_tek (mentoring technology and didactics). The evaluation is integrated in a “design based research” study and forms the basis for evidence-based formulations of the final mentoring model/technology.​

Outcomes of Instrumental Tuition and Playing in an Ensemble – Teaching Music in Cooperation Between Primary and Music Schools (OutMus)

Project leader: Jens Knigge

Work package leaders: Elin Angelo​ (NTNU & NORD), Jens Knigge, Anders Rønningen (Norsk Kulturskolerådet)

PhD candidate: Kirsti Nørstebø

Project participants (external): Mali Hauen (UiA), Anne Haugland Balsnes (UiA), Sjur Høgber (Kristiansand kulturskole), Vegar Snøfugl (Trondheim kulturskole), Tone Furunes Adde (Levanger Kulturskole)

OutMus seeks to understand how different forms of music education affects the student. On the basis of music curricula documents it is obvious that main goals of music education in primary schools are to enable children to experience, reflect on, understand, and participate in musical activities. To fulfil these goals, the development of musical knowledge and competencies are crucial dimensions in terms of learning outcomes. Hence, the project’s primary objective is the assessment of learning outcomes according to different concepts of music instruction.

At the student level, we understand quality as the fulfilment of learning outcomes defined by the curriculum, especially musical competencies. More generally, quality can be viewed as positive effects on music-related and non-music-related personal traits (e.g. self-concept, social skills) as well as group behaviour (e.g. improved classroom climate). Thus, we ask generally (1) what kind of learning outcomes are achieved by music instruction over one year; and more specifically (2) do different types of instruction cause differences in the learning outcomes? In addition, the project can contribute to evaluating the experiences and effects that arise through cooperation between music and art schools (“kulturskole”) and primary schools.

The study is based on a quasi-experimental design in which we follow two experimental groups (students learning violin and students learning dood) and one control group (“ordinary” music lessons) over a period of 12 months.​

PhD projects

Vocal narratives – about the experience of singing with the adolescent female voice

Research fellow: 
Runa Hestad Jenssen

The purpose of Runa Hestad Jenssen's research project "Vocal Narratives" is to develop knowledge about working with the adolescent female voice. The voice expresses our personality and our emotionality more clearly and more directly than perhaps any other bodily expression. The voice represents and reflects identity and social integration. It is an extension of our personality. What happens with the girls in their voice change? How is singing lessons experienced with a voice, body and life changing?

This is a qualitative study with a hermeneutic phenomenological narrative approach. The study has four parts and will be discussed in four articles. The project will be a knowledge contribution to everyone who works with singing lessons with girls in different contexts. In this way, it will be a contribution to the vocal-didactic field in particular, and to a music-pedagogical and arts-based research field in general.

Project partners:

Main supervisor​: Rosemary Martin​ (NTNU)​
Supervisor: Elin Angelo (NTNU) 
Supervisor: Regine Vesterlid Strøm​​ (Nord University)

Advisory board: 

Music pedagogy in development (MiU)

Artbased meaning-making in secondary school: 
mixed-method study on the crossdisciplinary school subject “Sal & scene” 

Research fellow:

Through the artsbased school subject “Sal & scene” (“Hall & scene”), which was introduced as an elective subject in the secondary school in 2012, pupils are given the opportunity to participate in various performing arts productions in school. The purpose of Solveig Salthammer Kolaas' PhD study is to contribute to develop insights and understandings into how the school subject “Sal & scene” in secondary school can contribute to meaning making. 

The main research question for the study is: "What understandings about meaning making can be developed through a mixed-method study of subject “Sal & scene” in secondary school?" The PhD is article-based and consists of the following three articles: 

1. "The big picture: a survey of the school subject “Sal og scene” in Norway 2019". The article is written in a quantitative, exploratory design. The data material is generated through a nationwide questionnaire survey of teachers teaching the subject, and the analysis is done as descriptive, statistical analysis. 

2. "For Life itself: Teachers' stories of the school subject “Sal & scene”. The article is written in a hermeneutic, narrative design. The data material is generated through qualitative questions in a nationwide questionnaire survey of teachers teaching the subject, and the analysis is done as narrative narrative analysis. 

3. "We don't play theater! Meaning-making in the subject “Sal & scene” - a professional knowledge landscape ». The article is based on a case study and is written in a hermeneutic, narrative design. The data material is generated through interviews and observation of teachers and pupils in teaching and meeting activities.

Kolaas, S. S. (under revision): Lærerfellesskapet i faget Sal og scene som profesjonelt kunnskapslandskap. 

Project partners:
Main supervisor: Elin Angelo (NTNU) 
Supervisor: Jens Knigge (Nord University)

Advisory board: 

Music pedagogy in development (MiU)

Ensemble conducting in light of recording practices

Research fellow:

The main research question of Ola Buan Øien’s PhD project is: “How can recording practices inform and contribute to develop insights and understandings into ensemble conducting?”
The project is divided into three sub-studies: 

(1) The Philosophical Fiber – a study of ensemble conducting in light of the record producer’s practice by applying the theory of practice architectures.
The purpose of this study is to develop insights into ensemble conducting. This project is based on a single case study that uses the theory of practice architectures to read record producer Daniel Lanois’s practice. Data generation is performed mainly through transcripts and reflection logs based on YouTube interviews and observations.

(2) Sonic extractions – an arts-based study on internalizing music philosophical concepts in a performative practice
The purpose of this study is to investigate how understandings about the recording producer's practice can be internalized into a performative practice through arts-based research. The research is epistemologically rooted in constructionism and is further theoretically based on a framework of philosophical aesthetic hermeneutics at the intersection between the performative and the qualitative paradigm. Furthermore, the project is informed by arts-based methodology. Data material is based on main findings from a YouTube-study, where music philosophical concepts are extracted in light of the record producer Daniel Lanois’ practice by applying the theory of practice architectures.

(3) Visual sonics – music interplay as ensemble conducting 
Studies 1 and 2 constitute a relevant basis for further investigating the concept of ensemble conducting in a music interplay perspective, where the next step may be to put these understandings and insights into play. In light of cross-disciplinary research paradigms, where different traditions can offer nuanced and multi-faceted perspectives, ensemble conducting can be further investigated from the following research question: "How can arts-based research contribute to developing understandings into music interplay as ensemble conducting in a record production context?"

Project partners:

Main supervisor: Elin Angelo (NTNU) 
Jessica Aspfors (Nord universitet/Åbo Akademi)

Advisory board: 

Music pedagogy in development (MiU)

Musical negotiation and agency in music improvisation – experiences children can achieve through acting musically

Research fellow:

The project challenges music education practices in the Norwegian “kulturskole” with regard to diversity, and looks at how children and young people can be given experiences through music when the basic experiences of participation, citizenship and democracy are in focus. The main goal of the «kulturskole» is failing, because “kulturskole” is not for everyone! (Berge, Angelo, Heian, & Emstad, 2019). The “kulturskole” curriculum struggles with its attempt to deal with diversity and immersion (Berge et al., 2019). There is a great gap between administrative desires for diversity (in terms of access for the majority of the population) and how music education of “kulturskole” actually takes place (Ellefsen, 2017; Ellefsen & Karlsen, 2019). 

Against this background, the project seeks to provide inclusive musical practice with content. The project is planned as an article-based dissertation with three to four articles.

Main supervisor: Jens Knigge

Supervisor: Guro Gravem Johansen (NMH)

Advisory Board: 
Music pedagogy in development (MiU)

Musical instruments in the ECEC: an exploration of possibilities for creative musical praxis with instruments in Norwegian ECEC

Doctoral Research Fellow: Ørjan Breivik Kines

The project studies music praxis in Norwegian Early Childhood Education and Care with an emphasis on access to and the use of musical instruments. The research is directed towards pracitioners in the research field and looks at how different understandings of music and musicality influences choices in facilitation of musical environments and activities in the ECEC. Earlier research has shown that there is few musical instruments accessible for children in Norwegian ECECs (Vist & Os, 2019). The aim of the project is to explore how the physical environment can be understood through the practitioners and how it may be possible to facilitate for children’s access to musical instruments for play and learning in the ECEC. 

The project is article-based and uses different methodological approaches in different parts of the study.

Main Supervisor: Professor (II), Elisabeth Bjørnestad (OsloMet / Nord University) (OsloMet / Nord University

Supervisor: Dosent, Morten Sæter (Queen Maud University College)

Advisory research group:

 Leader research group