An ethnographic study of private music teaching and learning among Taiwanese Canadians in Vancouver, British Columbia




Hsieh, Hsin Chih Kim

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This ethnographic study describes the teaching and learning experiences of private music teachers, students, and students’ parents among the Taiwanese Canadian community in Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The following elements are examined in this study: the context of private music lessons of Taiwanese Canadians; the private music teaching and learning experience of Taiwanese Canadians; the cultural beliefs underpinning Taiwanese Canadian private music lessons; and the valuing of private music lessons by Taiwanese Canadians. Five Taiwanese Canadian private music teachers and five of their students and the students’ parents living in Greater Vancouver, British Columbia participated in this research. Data were collected through formal and informal interviews and observations of video-recorded lesson. The findings indicate that the context of Taiwanese Canadian private music lessons is similar to that of the Western private music lessons, a consequence of the emphasis on the talented and Western teaching styles in private and school music education in Taiwan. Cultural values nevertheless have a strong but unacknowledged influence in the private music lessons of Taiwanese Canadians. The Confucian value of obedience to authority and a desire for Western independence are the two seemingly conflicting values that surfaced in the study. Taiwanese Canadians private music teachers teach to remove students’ doubts about music. The students, on the other hand, learn to put the skills and knowledge they have acquired during their private music lessons into practice. In addition, parents were involved in the private music lessons through various interactions associated with “pei.” Engaging their children in private music teaching and learning represents a status symbol for Taiwanese Canadians. Lastly, teaching privately is often a fall back job which provides financial security for private music teachers.



Private music teaching and learning, Studio music instruction, Taiwanese Canadians, Private music lessons, Instrumental teaching and learning, Instrumental lessons, Private music education, Culture