Mary Stakelum

Mary Stakelum


Personal statement

Mary Stakelum joined Bath Spa University in June 2015. She is Head of Postgraduate Programmes and Director of Research at the Institute for Education, providing academic and strategic leadership, support and co-ordination for all postgraduate activities except PGCE.

Her teaching commitment at this level extends to tutoring on the independent study module and research methods modules, and supervising MA and doctoral dissertations on a range of topics, including music education and professional practice in education.

Mary is leading on the development of a professional doctorate (EdD) at BSU and this will be launched in Autumn 2018.

She also acts as mentor to early career researchers, and is the school’s nominee on the University’s internal peer review college and internal assessor for BA/Leverhulme research funding applications.

As higher degrees tutor, Mary has responsibility for recruitment, retention and monitoring progress of doctoral research students, chairing interviews, progression assessment panels and vivas both within the school and across the university.

As Director of Research, Mary leads on all aspects of REF 2021 for the Institute for Education, and she is an elected member of BSU’s Academic Board (2017-2019).

Mary also chairs the Institute for Education Research, Ethics, Consultancy and Scholarship Committee and the Research Strategy Group, and she represents the Institute for Education at the University Research, Knowledge Exchange and Consultancy Committee, University Ethics Committee and University Higher Degrees Research Committee.

Academic qualifications

  • BEd - Carysfort College, Dublin, NUI
  • BMus - University College Cork
  • MA, Music Education - University of London
  • PhD - University of London

Professional memberships

  • Member, International Society for Music Education
  • Committee member, Society for Education and Music Psychology Research (SEMPRE)
  • Member, British Educational Research Association
  • Elected board member, European Association for Music in Schools (2013 - 2017)

External examiner roles

  • External examiner, MA Music Education, University of York (2016 - 2019)
  • External examiner, MA Music Education, Royal Conservatoire, The Hague (2015 - 2017)
  • External advisor for course revalidation, Trinity Laban Conservatory of Music and Dance (2016)
  • External examiner, PGCE Primary Music, University of Exeter (2011 - 2016)
  • External examiner for PhDs

Other external roles

  • Editor in Chief, Music Education Research
  • Joint Conference Secretary, Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research (SEMPRE)
  • Board member, European Association for Music in Schools (2010 – 2017)
  • Leader of the annual Doctoral Student Forum for EAS (Gdansk 2011, The Hague 2012, Leuven 2013, Nicosia 2014, Rostock 2015, Vilnius 2016, Salzburg 2017 and Jelgava 2018)
  • Member of Editorial Board for EAS publication series: European Perspectives in Music Education
  • Reviewer of abstracts for 1st International Conference: Music for and by children: Perspectives from children, composers, performers and educators (University of Aveiro, Portugal, October 2017)
  • Member of Programme and Review Committees for 9th Triennial Conference of European Society for the Cognitive Sciences in Music (Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, August 2015)

Conference organisation

  • Conference Director, 10th International Research in Music Education (RIME) Conference (Bath Spa University, April 2017)
  • Member of Organising Committee, International RIME Conferences (University of Exeter 2011, 2013, and 2015)
  • Chair of Organising Committee, SEMPRE Conference Children’s Musical Worlds (University of Reading, 2014)
  • Chair of Organising Committee, SEMPRE Conference Developing the Musician (University of Reading, 2011)

Research and expertise

Two discourse approaches can be identified in her research into music education. One is concerned with the transmission of a version of official knowledge in the institutional setting within which the selection and organisation of musical knowledge has customarily been top down, with its emphasis on performance and music literacy. The other is predicated on the transformative power which relates to teachers’ formative experiences and the value they ascribe to music in their own lives and in the lives of their pupils, and which is lived out in the idiosyncratic setting.

Her research in these areas is predominantly located in qualitative methodologies, with an emphasis on research into classroom practice and the lived experiences of learners and teachers. This theme runs through recent publications:

  • Stakelum, M. (2017). 'The business of music: creativity and innovation in the classroom' in R. Girdzijauskienė and M. Stakelum (eds) European perspectives on music education vol 7: creativity and innovation. Vienna: Helbling, pp.105-20
  • Stakelum, M. (2016). 'Harnessing the everyday use of technology to create inclusive musical interactions in the classroom' in N. Economidou and M. Stakelum (eds) European perspectives on music education Vol 4: democracy and inclusion in music education. Vienna: Helbling, pp.97-110.

Both of these were in depth case studies carried out in secondary schools.

Her experience of quantitative methodologies can be evidenced in her investigation into the relationship between confidence and experience regarding music among primary teachers. A questionnaire was used and analysis of the data found a link between levels of teachers’ music experiences (high, some, none) and self-reports on their musicality, as well as their views on the teachability of music. This was published as Stakelum, M. and Baker, D. (2013). The MaPS project: mapping teachers’ conceptions of musical development (In M. Stakelum, (ed). Developing the musician: contemporary perspectives on teaching and learning. SEMPRE Studies in the Psychology of Music. Farnham: Ashgate).

Her initial experience as a researcher was centred on investigating children’s listening skills and she developed a grounding in experimental methods and the literature around developmental psychology in music and music education. Her interest in this has continued to the present day, though her focus has moved away from the experimental towards social psychology, with particular reference to theories of learning and teaching.

The work she is undertaking around her forthcoming book, Understanding music in childhood: children’s musical worlds (London: Sage, due 2019) is exploring musicality and its development, imagination and creativity in the young musician, music created by/with/for children, and new directions in research on teaching and learning in this field. This will directly address issues of psychology and sociology in music education.

Curriculum development and innovation underpin studies undertaken in the Irish context. Broadly speaking, these are concerned with values and meaning, and set within sociocultural conceptions of knowledge. An example here would be Stakelum, M. (2014). 'Boundaries and bridges: the influence of James ‘Cooksey’ Culwick on the development of the teaching and learning of music in nineteenth century Ireland', International Journal of Music Education 32 (4), 409-21.

Finally, with her more recent work in ethnographies of music, she has a growing interest in blurring the boundaries between musics, ways of knowing music, and spaces where musicking takes place. This is manifest in her work around:

  • An invited keynote at the IV Seminario Iberoamericano y Africano de Investigación en Patrimonio Cultural Compartido. Música, danza y ritual en el encuentro iberoamericano held at the University of Extremadura, Spain, in December 2014 which led to the development of research and teaching activities in music and in music education at Bath Spa, and in defining her interest in emerging fields such as musical shared heritage. This culminated in a special issue of Music Education Research (December 2016).
  • Ethnographies of musical heritage - a collaborative intercultural research project between BSU (Dr Mary Stakelum and Professor Amanda Bayley) and the Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Brazil which explores the landscape of music research and teaching across performance studies, ethnomusicology, popular music, composition and education.

Research interests

  • Music psychology
  • Socio-cultural perspectives on music education
  • Creativity and innovation

Areas of research supervision

Mary Stakelum is currently supervising ten projects across the Institute, and in collaboration with Bath School of Art and Design and the College of Liberal Arts.

She is Director of Studies for six of these:

  • Amateur, professional, and in between: music making in 21st century Truro, Cornwall
  • Re-creating: influencing Colombian adolescents’ identity formation in school through a creative writing intervention
  • Children as artists: the role of adults in supporting children’s identity as artists
  • Language learning strategies and strategy training in a Syrian ELT context: teachers’ knowledge, beliefs and practices
  • The pedagogic philosophies, values and practices of Art Schools: what effect have they had on the development of popular musicians?
  • Releasing the imagination: stories of becoming writing teachers in England’s state schools

And second supervisor for four of these:

  • Pupils as collaborative composers: experiences of multimodal learning in the music classroom
  • The power of the voices of the ancestors: the heritage of mbira music from Zimbabwe and its potential for connecting people across cultural boundaries
  • E-Dynamic space: a consideration of tension concerning institutional artefacts and personal design
  • Ice, offal: why teach a photographer to draw?

Academic outputs

Consultancy, business and enterprise work

  • Research consultant at St Augustine’s School, Trowbridge (since 2016)

Invited talks/Guest lectures

  • Guest lecturer, UCL Institute of Education, MA in Music Education programme (2017 and 2018)
  • Guest lecturer, Trinity Laban, MA in Music Education programme (2017)
  • Guest lecturer, international symposium, Singing in Music Education: UNESCO's Seoul Agenda and the UK Context (Liszt Academy, Budapest, April 2014)
  • Guest illustrative workshops: Composing in the classroom and Listening to music (Padagogische Hochschule, Freiburg, June 2008).

Research and academic outputs

Go to ResearchSPAce

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