Music in primary schools and social inclusion of immigrant pupils in Norway

This PhD project is a critical investigation of participatory music making as an arena for inclusion and community building in primary schools with intensive language classes for newly arrived immigrant pupils, exploring dynamics of inclusion and exclusion.

Norway has recently experienced a relatively large influx of immigrants that has led to rapid changes in its formerly fairly homogeneous society and school system. The national curriculum states that music as a school subject plays a central role in adapted teaching in an inclusive school, and that in a multicultural society music education has the potential to contribute to pupils’ positive identity formation through encouraging a sense of belonging to their own cultures and cultural heritage, as well as tolerance and respect for other people’s cultures.

To collect data, an ethnographic case study of music lessons and music activities in an urban primary school with an intensive language class is carried out, including:

  • Non-participant observation
  • Interviews with pupils, teachers and head
  • Field notes and researcher reflexive log
  • Pilot project participatory music workshops

The theoretical starting points of the study are:

  • Intercultural education (Portera, 2010)
  • Socialisation into educational settings that allows ‘newcomers’ to be active subjects in their new surroundings (Biesta, 2015)
  • Potential communities of musical practice (Kenny, 2016) in schools with intensive language classes
  • Building community through musical participation (Turino, 2008)
  • Musical action as a performative, social phenomenon (Bowman, 2007)
  • Inclusion and exclusion processes for minority language students in Norwegian schools (Hilt, 2016; Jortveit, 2014)

PhD-project leader: Felicity Burbridge Rinde

Project period: 2017 – 2021

Silje Valde Onsrud

Silje Valde Onsrud is associate professor in music education in the Department of Arts Education at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, campus Bergen. She holds a Ph.D. in music education from the University of Bergen. She teaches and supervises in the music education program and in the Ph.D. program Studies in Bildung and Pedagogical Practices at the Faculty of Education, Arts and Sports, campus Bergen. Her research interests include gender issues and social justice in musical practices and musical content, like song repertoir. She is specialized in gender theory, qualitative research, ethnographic fieldwork, discourse analysis, and narrative inquiry.

Selected publications:

Onsrud, Silje Valde 2017. “And the melody still lingers on”: Om danningspotensiale i ein discolåt. Nordic Network for Music Education Research, Yearbook 18 Oslo: NMH-publication

Onsrud, Silje Valde 2015. Gender Performativity through Musicking: Examples from a Norwegian Classroom Study. Nordic Network for Music Education Research, Yearbook 16 Oslo: NMH-publication