E-Learning in Music: Learning Group Composing in a Blended Learning Environment – Finland

Title of the Good Practice

E-Learning in Music: Learning Group Composing in a Blended Learning Environment – Finland

Description of the Good Practice

In recent years new technology and online learning have become increasingly important components of teacher education in Finland. This best practice involves the integration of new educational technology in Finnish teacher education, particularly in the context of music instruction. In a first moment, 16 students were involved, with the aim to enhance traditional music education with technology-driven blended learning. The first group of students (for the pilot) was international because Erasmus students from France (1), Germany (2), Greece (2), Italy (1) and Romania (1) were participating with Finnish students (9) in this voluntary music course of 5 cp. One aim of the course was to compose a children’s song in groups. The musical backgrounds of these students varied. One student was almost on a professional level, but most of them had never played any instrument. The blended learning environment is a learning environment that combines face-to-face instruction with technology-mediated instruction. The learning group was set to composing in a blended learning setup, using the rotation method. At the beginning of the last semester of the teacher training, the Department of Teacher Education involved was able to cooperate with the Rockway company, which offered our students the use of its online learning environment at no cost.  The blended learning method used was the rotation method, in which students learn through a schedule of independent online study sessions in the “Rockway” music e-learning environment and face-to-face classroom time during a 5 cp. music course. The major advantage that blended learning offers is increased opportunity for independent and constructive learning. The experiences of the rotation model were positive. After testing this teaching and learning technique, the benefits of blended learning have shown themsleves with much evidence; among them, there is the creation of an independent and constructive learning, with teachers serving as crucial mentors. Students with prior musical experience benefited more from e-learning, improving their attitudes toward developing independent musical skills.

Phases of the blended-course:

In this music course plan, the Amabile’s componential model of small groups’ creative process is used. The first phase is task preparation for composing a children’s song in small groups. At the beginning the problem or aim of the creative composing work is determined. In the first phase students get to know each other in face-to face-contact by singing, dancing and playing together.

The second phase is preparation. In this phase all information connected to the task is gathered and studied to solve the problems or continue the creative work. Students are asked to combine the online environment to their instrumental studies on their current level, and find an instrument in which they are interested. The group follow together the first online lesson of creative music making and is asked to follow the next lessons and to think about some creative idea for a children’s song. Students research children’s songs, (melodies, ambitus, rhythms, words and musical forms), using the internet combined with song books and social media sites, such as Facebook

The third phase of the learning is idea generation; new ideas for children’s songs are created. When group composing begins, students have already studied in the rotational environment online and face-to-face. They usually work very openly bringing their musical ideas together. Composing in groups happens in a face-to-face environment, so that all teacher support as well as informal internet-based support is available. Each four group of student always ends up working in very different ways (they can began from words, and then compose music, or viceversa; they can start from a common theme and they begin by playing chords, as shown in one online session; etc.).

The fourth stage of the process is idea validation. This happens in groups during the composing process. Students plan some melodic formulas or poems, but then very quickly select the best ideas and continue to compose the song. When the song is ready they evaluate it and discuss the process of creation, according to the characteristic and composition of the group. The fifth phase is to practise and present each song to the others. In this phase they face the assessment of the other groups. The songs are sung together and audio-recorded with the Audiocity programme, and then shared within the groups.

As for the pilot and other lessons analysed, students‘ experiences of the role of the blended learning environment in every phase of the composing process was encouraging. All students mentioned the blended learning environment and the possibility to use the Rockway environment, the internet and social media in music learning as very engaging and motivating.

Many students used the online environment to learn new skills in music. Most students studied free accompaniment along with their face-to-face-piano lessons. Guitar, five-string kantele and some new instruments were also studied. The online environment was also used as a base for the creative planning in music and group composing. The learning experiences of the students were positive and according to students’ writings the blended learning environment helped students in studying music, especially in learning instrumental playing and supporting their group composing. According to students’ experiences, the online learning and face-to-face instruction were combined effectively. The most important experience reported was firstly the face-to-face introduction of the online learning possibilities; the freedom to study anything through individual lessons was also mentioned. Some students saw the usefulness of combining the online teaching with the resource of the face-to-face teacher; some others noted the flexibility of combining online learning with face-to-face classroom work.


  • Distance Education
  • Digitalization of Education
  • Real-time Teaching


English, Finnish

Number of participants

16; fit for medium sized groups.

Type of training

Blended learning (rotation method)

Number and type of exercises

Five phases + a pilot + other lessons as needed. Group work, face to face, practical sessions; online sessions, individual study/ work


One semester

Target Audience

Students (teacher training education), music teachers, educators, school principals, parents, university professors and students in the areas of interest, IT Learning and Education developers;

Competences/skills that you will require

Pedagogical/teaching competence, IT skills, music and composition teaching skills


Consideration as a GP

The integration of face-to-face and online learning in this particular case clearly help students to enhance the classroom experience and extend music learning through the innovative use of internet information and online lessons. The blended strategies enhance students‘ engagement and music learning through online activities to the music course, and improve effectiveness and efficiencies by reducing lecture time and allowing time for the group work to produce creative ideas.