Birmingham Contemporary Music Group: Resolution project

Resolution involved a series of teacher–composer collaborations within a partnership project involving scientific researchers and Birmingham City Music Group (BCMG) working with secondary school–age pupils. Birmingham City University investigated the effects of partnership working in this collaborative project.

Resolution project large


Research background

BCMG is one of the world’s foremost new music ensembles with an international reputation in performance and learning and participation provision. BCU School of Education have worked alongside BCMG to help develop their provision for young composers across a number of projects.

The Resolution project brought together composers and biomedical scientists from the University of Birmingham's Rheumatology Research Group, part of the Centre for Translational Inflammation Research based in Queen Elizabeth Hospital to work with young people to create new music around the theme of auto-immune disease. The project ran in three secondary schools and was led by 6 composers, 3 scientists, and Education Officer at the British Society for Immunology. The project culminated in an evening of music and science in March 2013 which included the music composed by and for the young people.

The research was commissioned by BCMG and funded by The Wellcome Trust, Small Arts Award.

Research aims

Resolution involved a series of teacher–composer collaborations within a partnership project involving scientific researchers and BCMG working with secondary school–age pupils.

This research investigated partnership working between the scientific researchers and a contemporary music group working with secondary school–age pupils. It looked at how the professional learning of key participants was challenged by their participation in this work.

Research methods

The music organisation, school teachers, composers, scientists and young people had the opportunity to share and reflect on their experiences of the project through participation in the research. Data are collected through the use of semi-structured interviews, focus group interviews, and observations.


The research resulted in co-authoring a book chapter titled: Musician-Teacher Collaborations: Altering the Chord (Routledge, 2018) with BCMG’s learning and participation director Nancy Evans and Birmingham Music Education Research Group at BCU, as well as an internal research report.

Three domains of professional knowledge are identified and discussed: composerly thinking knowledge, which is mostly the property of composers; pedagogical content knowledge, which is by and large the property of the teachers; and, lying at the intersection of the two, what we call subject domain knowledge. These are found to be significant in the consideration of composer–teacher partnership projects.

Reports and links

Kinsella, V., Fautley, M. and Evans, N. (2017). Musician-Teacher collaborations in composing contemporary music in secondary schools. In Christophersen and Kenny (2017) Musician-Teacher collaborations in Educational Contexts.