France - A pedagogy of autonomy and responsibility in learning music

22 November 2016

(ANS - Roanne) - How do you develop a pedagogy of autonomy and responsibility in the context of learning music? Edouard Halbout, university professor of the "Saint Paul" college of Roanne which is associated with the network of the Salesian schools of France, reveals his method.

Fourteen young people sit quietly in a large room with only a few whispers here and there. It is not usual for young people of their age. Some guitar or piano chords resonate in this quiet welcoming atmosphere, where everyone is working very hard.

Pierre, with another student, is practising reading the notes on the staff. A little further on, Emmanuel and Kilian are doing the same and playing the piano. Justine is trying the chords on the guitar. In front of a computer, Marion and Vincent are preparing the work of another student.

This experiment in autonomy and responsibility for young people who are studying piano and guitar has been going on in Edouard Halbout’s music workshop for a few years. It is inspired in large part by the pedagogy of Pierre Faure and has been developed by the students themselves. Eduard explains: “without them I could not do what I am doing today."

The students organize the workshop. Some are secretaries, others prepare the programmes, others teach beginners the knowledge they have already acquired. Each student receives a registration form that explains what he or she has to do. When they think they have acquired what was asked, they will meet a student-teacher to check what they have learnt. Then they will pass to the next module. Everyone can progress at their own pace. Some can acquire expertise in three weeks, others in three months. The important thing is to move forward and this motivates the students to have responsibility, to be teachers of others.

Students have free access to the workshop between 12.00 noon and 2.00 p.m. and they can practise as they wish. The silence is part of the method: they speak only with their teacher, without disturbing others. It is a difficult but also essential requirement and students gradually learn to respect it serenely.

Fr Pierre Faure created an original teaching method based on a personalized pedagogy. The AIRAP Association spreads his approach in schools and universities that offer training for teachers.

The video interview with Edouard Halbout is available on Don Bosco Aujourd'hui website.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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