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 nine 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 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.

All projects described below have started and most are approx. midway. 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.

The research group conducted a conference in January 2019 (Campus Stjørdal) 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 2021.

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

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 

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: 

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: Elin Angelo (NTNU) 

Advisory board: 

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: 

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: 

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.

Advisory Board: 

 Leader research group