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 division for arts and culture.

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.

Research projects

  • Project leader: Jens Knigge​.

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

    Project participants (Nord University): 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.​

  • 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.​

  • How can performing arts education, in formal and non-formal contexts, reimagine cultural literacy as a dialogical practice that enhances social cohesion and inclusion? This is what the innovation and research project d@rts wants to find out, as the first Horizon Europe project led by the Faculty of Education, Arts and Culture at Nord University.

    • The project is part of Horizon Europe’s Cluster 2 («Culture, Creativity and Inclusive society»).
    • Project start and duration: 01/2024, 42 months.
    • Grant: 3 mil. EUR
    • Consortium: Norway (Nord University), Belgium (AEC), Germany (Universities of Cologne, Hildesheim and Lüneburg), Italy (University of Verona and Puntozero), Finland (University of Jyväskylä), Serbia (Kulturanova), Uganda (Makerere University) and Aotearoa/New Zealand (University of Auckland)
    • Total number of partners (including associated partners): 27
    • Coordinating institution: Nord University, faggruppe for kunst- og kulturfag

    Project leader: prof. Jens Knigge (Nord University)
    Project manager and contact person: associate professor Runa Hestad Jenssen (Nord University)

  • With a grant of €1.5 million the European Union is funding the project TEAM – Teacher Education Academy for Music. Future-Making, Mobility and Networking in Europe in the program Erasmus+ Teacher Academies. As one of 16 new projects in this strand TEAM will strengthen the network for music education in schools, and initial as well as continuous music teacher education institutions, foster mobility and provide future-making material for music education. TEAM is a pan-European collaborative research and development network working closely with the European Association for Music in School (EAS). It aims to reshape music teacher education in Europe according to the current needs of music teacher professionalization, digitization, intercultural learning, future viability, sustainability and social coherence.

    TEAM takes a broad approach at various points in order to tackle the current problems of the subject of music in Europe and to create a dynamic of change. It will therefore foster a music education network in Europe in the long term. A close relationship with European music associations from the very beginning guaranties that TEAM can continue to have an effect even after the project has ended. The project will run from June 2023 to May 2026 and is coordinated by the University of Potsdam.

    Project Leader: Isolde Malmberg, University of Potsdam

    Work Package 4: Jens Knigge (PI), Runa Hestad Jenssen, Solveig Fretheim


Completed projects

  • 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

    Ehninger, J., Knigge, J. & Rolle, C. (2022). Why Are Certain Items More Difficult than Others in a Competency Test for Music-Related Argumentation? Frontiers in Education – Assessment, Testing and Applied Measurement.

    Ehninger, J., Knigge, J., Schurig, M. & Rolle, C. (2021): A New Measurement Instrument for Music-Related Argumentative Competence: The MARKO Competency Test and Competency Model. In: Frontiers in Education.​


    Project partners:
    Julia Ehninger (University of Cologne)
    Gottschalk, T. (University of Cologne)
    Christian Rolle (University of Cologne)

    Advisory board:
    Music pedagogy in development (MiU)​

  • 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)

  • 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.

    Knigge, J., Danbolt, I., Hagen, L. A., & Haukenes, S. (2021). The current status of singing in kindergartens in Norway: An exploratory study. Nordic Research in Music Education, 2(2), 74–99.

    Project website:

    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)


  • Research fellow:
    Rolf Martin Snustad

    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)

  • 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 Sæther (Queen Maud University College)

    Advisory research group:
    Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care, and Early Childhood Teacher Education (KiBB)

Finished PhD-projects

  • Research fellow: Runa Hestad Jenssen

    I am obsessed with voices. This obsession meant I sang before I could talk, it led me through higher music education as a classically trained singer, it shaped my experience in a western sociocultural context of singing as a soprano, teacher and now – as a researcher. So, ‘naturally’, voice is the topic of this thesis, you might think. But voice is such a huge topic. What kind of voices am I interested in? There are SO many voices. Starting my PhD study, I was particularly interested in female changing voices – the adolescent voice. Wonderful, you might think. A clear and narrow topic to research (just as a PhD study should be). But, instead of investigating voice as an object, something to study from the outside, I ended up studying voice from the inside, asking - What possibilities might lie within a performative autoethnographic study of a soprano-teacher- researcher’s embodied voice experienced in a western sociocultural context of singing? – as the main research question for my thesis.

    Through exploring notions of voice by engaging in a methodology of performative autoethnography, and leaning into theories of performativity, gender, embodiment, and feminist new materialism, I also engage with voice at a sociopolitical level. Who is given a voice? Who is not? What does this tell me about what voices we listen to, who we include in vocal pedagogy and in music education? And broadly, what does this negotiation or understanding of voice mean for the way we learn, teach, and research voice?

    Basically, I deal with the idea of voice in an experienced way. Through this inside-out process of exploring voice, I discovered the voices of Others and I started to critically question the cultures and contexts I experienced. This lead me on a journey where I saw possibilities to expand on methodologies, breathe with theory and push boundaries of how knowledge might be created.

    My thesis is a ‘storied thesis’. I believe in stories as a way of knowing and see stories in ‘simple’ terms - as a series of events arranged in time. Through stories I can explore questions. To help answer the main research question in my thesis, I dived into four sub-research questions, each explored in four articles. The first article, Facing the Soprano (Jenssen, 2021), examines how a singer’s feminist performative “I” is created through autoethnography. Article two, A tale of grappling (Jenssen & Martin, 2021), explores how performative duoethnography can be understood as an expanded way of methodological thinking. In A different high soprano laughter (Jenssen, 2022a) I ponder how Nomadic theory might lend new entrances to think about voice, and how this re-thinking offers diversity in vocal pedagogy. The final article, The voice lessons (Jenssen, 2022b), acknowledges the value of (auto)ethnographies as a way of producing, analyzing, and representing voice.

    In the meta-text, the ‘kappe’ – which translates from Norwegian to ‘cape’ in English, I thread the stories and questions from the articles together, as a kaleidoscopic exploration of notions of voice, constantly changing and becoming. Sewing my ‘cape’, I take you through the process of sharing and listening to the stories told in my four articles. Reading and analysing my discoveries offered in my articles I see new entrances for engaging with voices. Embracing embodied knowledge as the foundation, for creating dialogues, seeing possibilities, and seeing Otherwise, I aim to find a space where a multiplicity of voices can voice, in vocal pedagogy, music education, and academia. I therefore offer my thesis as a contribution for those engaging in arts and pedagogical practices where voice (in its plethora of possibilities) is at the core. However, this study is also for those interested in epistemological and ontological ways of exploring notions of voice. If you are ready to dive in, I will dive with you – voicing dialogues, together.

  • Research fellow:
    Solveig Salthammer Kolaas

    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)

  • Research fellow:
    Ola Buan Øien

    This article-based thesis consists of an extended abstract and three articles. The thesis is divided into two parts with a total of four texts and focuses on developing knowledge of musical leadership. In Part I, a synthesis is presented in the form of an extended abstract, and in Part II, the three articles constituting the substance of the synthesis are presented. The author recommends reading the articles first as they constitute the background of the synthesis. The following is an overview of the two parts of the thesis.

    Part I - The extended abstract is a synthesis of CS1-3 that consists of an introduction, previous research, theoretical framework, methodology and method, findings, discussion, and conclusions. In this synthesis, a hermeneutic practice ecological perspective serves as a theoretical lens for the comprehensive investigation of CS1–3. The conclusions suggest the Perpetual Practice Dialogue Complex as an approach to
    combine performative, pedagogical and research practices in the means to reveal,
    develop and articulate understandings in and on musical leadership.

    Part II - The articles for each component study (CS) are attached as they were published or available in manuscript form at the time of this thesis submission. Through CS1-3, understandings of musical leadership were developed at the intersection of qualitative research and arts-based research (ABR). Nine concepts that served as aspects of musical leadership relevant to conducting were revealed by investigating a record producer’s practice (CS1). Through ABR, six of the nine concepts were transformed into sonic extractions (CS2), and live looping through loop station conducting (LSC) as an ensemble conducting approach offered several perspectives relevant to ensemble conducting in a pedagogical context (CS3).

    Keywords: musical leadership, record producer, hermeneutic practice ecological perspective, arts-based research, music teacher education

    Project partners:

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

    Advisory board:

    Music pedagogy in development (MiU)