Cox, Graham (2003) Communities of practice : learning in progressive ensembles. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This study examines the learning of ensemble skills by young musicians in
progressive ensembles. Data collection took place in three music centres which form
part of an LEA music service's ensemble provision. This study uniquely approaches
ensembles as'socio-musical' phenomena. It finds description and explanation in the
constantly changing and developing socio-musical interactions that form ensembles.
Using an ethnographic approach it examines the practice of ensembles that are part
of musical learning pyramids, through the eyes and actions of the ensemble
members. There is an examination of ensemble membership and the social
structures and interactions that form ensembles.

This study explores, and for the first time identifies, a set of ensemble specific skills.
These are the skills that a musician uses to negotiate, integrate and cooperate with
other participants in the production of ensemble performance. It goes on to examine
how ensemble specific skills are acquired and suggests that the learning process is
one of serial performative responsibility transfer created within stratified centripetal
progression. New, or novice, members of an ensemble start by participating at a
peripheral level leaving it to others to take performative responsibility for the
production of a negotiated collaborative realization of the musical intentions of the

This study has been influenced by the work of Lave and Wenger and social theories
of learning. However, it departs from these theories by suggesting that the learning
process within an ensemble is responsibility led and stratified.

274296.pdf - Accepted Version

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