Beyond the music

Éadaoin Copeland (Master Classical Music - Instrumental Répétiteurship) has written a thesis called Beyond the Music. Her research studies an under discussed area of collaborative music making: the interpersonal aspects and ‘extramusical’ support functions of the piano accompanist.

Éadaoin: 'My research investigated, in a preliminary manner, these elements of musical collaboration with the aim of optimizing the collaborative music making experience and informing educational training in this area. To comprehensively research this subject and identify of pianists can collaborate more effectively, the perceived role of the accompanist in musical education, the interpersonal/social aspect of musical collaboration, the value of certain personality traits in collaborative musicians and the complimentary of personalities were examined.

This project connects with the outside world in terms of dealing with interpersonal relationships and dynamics beyond the purely music focused bubble musicians commonly find themselves in. It also demonstrates an approach to combining the disciplines of science and music. Having completed my bachelor degree in neuroscience before pursuing piano performance, there are many aspects of the musical world which I find fascinating and that I often question with a scientific, analytical mind. This research project served as my first endeavour to answer some of these questions. The study yielded some very interesting, thought-provoking findings that, although centred on musicians, are relevant to any team work dynamic and emphasise the importance of considering all elements of working relationships. Of course, as so commonly happens with research, I ended the project with more questions and ideas than I started with – which I think is good thing! This is an important and exciting area of research that warrants further attention. It raises interesting ideas and concepts that could be applied to improve music making experience and to inform educational and training programmes for collaborative musicians.'


Marc Pauwels, docent Conservatorium van Amsterdam: ‘The Master’s degree programme Répétiteurship offered Éadaoin an ideal starting point for her research into the non-musical sides of répétiteurship. She succeeded in mapping out a still partially uncharted territory, namely the psychological and interpersonal aspects of the profession. Her research led directly to practical recommendations, both as répétiteur, as well as for professional education, and the relevance of her work was therefore extremely clear.'

Beorn Nijenhuis, RUG: 'Éadaoin displayed resilience and grit in the face of a very difficult challenge. The natural world has an infuriating way of remaining uncooperative in the face of our ideas of how it works. It makes science a meticulous and arduous task. Éadaoin showed she has the patience and dedication to push through in spite of these challenges. Combining her sharp analytical mind with a creative and musically astute subject, this graduation project became an exceptional example of the marriage of science with classical music.  It's something I was proud to be a part of and is worthy of praise.'

From the jury report of the Graduation Prize: 'With Beyond the music, Éadaoin Copeland has written an impressive and interesting thesis about a group of musicians who are too often undervalued: the répétiteur or piano accompanist. Their profession is barely even recognised, even though they are indispensable to the artistic process. ‘Beyond the Music’ changes all that and raises awareness about the important role that they play in musical projects. The thesis contributes to the emancipation of this field of expertise and should therefore be compulsory reading for anyone who collaborates with piano accompanists.'

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