Getting closer to history: using heritage learning in music history pedagogy


This article addresses the subject of heritage learning and the use of physical and digitised sources in higher education, specifically in relation to musicology and the teaching of music history at university level. ‘Heritage learning’ refers to the use of cultural heritage in a pedagogical setting. Its use is increasingly common in archives, libraries and museums. Our aim is to investigate its relevance to musicology and music history teaching. What are the benefits, which are the challenges? How can it be applied to physical objects and digital resources? What are the student’s experiences?

The observations and conclusions are based on interviews with students as well as on previous research. We use a workshop held at Uppsala university library as an illustration of adaptation of heritage learning in a real teaching situation.

We show that there are several benefits of heritage learning in music history teaching for students, teachers and cultural heritage institutions. For students it promotes different learning styles through active and multi-sensory engagement. It also arguably encourages intellectual flexibility and improves practical, analytical, observational and critical thinking skills. For teachers it offers the possibility to train the students in digital literacy by using physical objects and digital copies as pedagogical tools, etcetera. Furthermore, it strengthens the connection between research and teaching, and promotes interaction between culture heritage and educational institutions. But there are also challenges. We show that it is important to integrate heritage learning into the course curriculum, and to communicate the purpose and intended learning outcomes to the students. If the teacher is aware of both the benefits and the challenges, heritage learning could prove to be a highly successful way of bringing the students closer to history.



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