MiME. A movement-based approach to instrumental music teaching and learning

Start - End 
2015 - 2022 (ongoing)
Department of Art, music and theatre sciences
Research Focus 



Throughout the history of playing the so-called traditional instruments (e.g. violin, piano, trumpet, clarinet), different instructional approaches and methods have been developed to guide students towards expertise. Many of these approaches our tailored to the master-apprentice model, which has been criticized for being too teacher-centered, based upon a didactics of transmission and reproductive imitation and dominated by verbal instruction and feedback, and by aural modelling. In my view, this model easily fosters a disembodied understanding of the music and an instrumentalist conception of the musical instrument and the body.


In this project, I present a novel, movement-based approach to instrumental music education, based on the theory of embodied music cognition (Leman, 2007,2016) and a related view on the musician-instrument relationship (Nijs et al, 2013; Nijs, 2017). In this approach, the incorporation of the musical instrument, the subjectification of bodily involvement in performance and the integration of different types of performance gestures are essential aspects of developing of a relationship with the musical instrument that enables an embodied interaction with the music during performance. The deliberate use of movement while playing is proposed as viable way to shape these aspects.

The project involves:

1) theory development:

The aim is to refine a model of the musician-instrument relationship, based on a refinement of the concept of embodiment.

2) practice:

In this project, teaching children and adults is a vital part of developing the approach. I teach children and adults, in ensemble playing and in studio teaching. Teaching projects will lead to possible interventions for the empirical studies in this project

3) empirical studies:

Based on the developed practices, this project conducts several empirical studies that investigate the role of movement for the development of musicianship.