The purpose of this study was to explore teachers’ experiences of distance learning (from
here abbreviated DL) in music (from here abbreviated DLIM) classes with pupils in
grades 3 to 6. In March 2020, Finland moved to distance education due to the COVID-19
pandemic. Preparing for distance education started very quickly and distance learning
was a whole new way for teachers to implement teaching. DL presented challenges to
music teaching, as it relies on common playing and music making, and studying
traditionally takes place in contact with other pupils.
Two main questions were addressed in this research: In which ways did teachers
implement DLIM? and What experiences did teachers have with DL? The data was
collected by interviewing nine classroom teachers and music subject teachers. The
interviews followed the principles of the theme interview, and the material was analysed
using data-based content analysis.
The results show that teachers felt common playing, music making, and singing were
challenging, but other parts of music teaching were conducted in a diverse and
functional manner. Teachers intended DLIM to be an uplifting and lightweight subject to
help teachers and pupils cope with a challenging teaching situation. Teachers felt that
distance education required more work than the typical in-person education, and much
more time was spent on the job. Despite the challenges, teachers also felt that DL
brought them new perspectives and ideas about music education. The biggest difference
between Finland and other European countries seems to be the fact that in Finland much
more emphasis is put on making music together, band playing and choir singing. That is
seen as talk of the delay caused by ICT in DL.
Keywords: distance learning in music, COVID-19, Finnish music teaching