Constructions & applications of fun in Classic FM’s online music education resources


This project will examine free online music education resources curated by Classic FM, the most popular music broadcaster in the world. Identifying the explicit or implicit pedagogies and epistemological standpoints of these resources, it will analyse how ‘fun’ is constructed and utilised.


The value of formal and informal online music education opportunities has long been recognised (Salavuo, 2008), and examples of good practice identified (Crawford, 2017; King, Prior, & Waddington-Jones, 2019). Online music education resources have the potential to engage students in new ways of knowing and learning (ISKME, 2013). Yet the critical roles played by creative stakeholders and technology, as well as the factors influencing young people’s uptake and engagement with online music learning remain little known. One potential factor is the notion of ‘fun’ – which also remains largely unconceptualised in relation to learning in general (Ferguson et al., 2020.; Okada, 2019; Okada & Sheehy, 2020). This project seeks to analyse how ‘fun’ is constructed and utilised specifically within the pedagogies of online music education resources.

The number of young people in the UK receiving music education or studying music has reduced dramatically (Bath, Daubney, Mackrill, & Spruce, 2020), a cultural decline exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic (Daubney & Fautley, 2020). In England, where various non-state actors provide music education (Bath et al., 2020), the context of the pandemic has foregrounded ‘non-traditional’ providers, including resources promoted or curated by commercial media companies. These include classical music providers who, by their nature, have a deep commercial interest in and commitment to music and its future.

Classic FM is the most popular music broadcaster in the world, with approx. 5.7 million listeners (Dromey, Haferkorn, & Dromey, 2019). Listeners can also interact with the company through online forums, social media, and resources. Among the resources curated by the station are teaching and learning materials for those wishing to develop their musical knowledge and skills.

Research Questions

What are the explicit or implicit pedagogies and epistemological standpoints of these resources?

How is ‘fun’  constructed and utilised?


This project will examine these online free learning materials, grouping them thematically in relation to their audience and purpose, their implied or explicit pedagogies (their epistemological standpoints; Sheehy, 2017), and the construction of fun they apply (Okada, 2020; Okada& Sheehy 2020a; 2020b).

This research is an important first step in evaluating factors that are likely to impact on the uptake of, and successful engagement with, online music education resources and opportunities, with implications for teachers, student teachers and researchers at all levels.


This project is coordinated by

Emily Dowdeswell

Dr Mimi Tatlow-Golden

Prof Kieron Sheehy


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Crawford, R. (2013). “Evolving technologies require educational policy change: Music education for the 21st century”. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 29(5).

Crawford, R. (2017). Rethinking teaching and learning pedagogy for education in the twenty-first century: blended learning in music education. Music Education Research, 19(2), 195–213.

Daubney, A., & Fautley, M. (2020). Editorial Research. Music education in a time of pandemic: Introduction. British Journal of Music Education,.

Dromey, C., Haferkorn, J., & Dromey, C. (2019). Talking About Classical Music. The Classical Music Industry, 4777, 183–261.

Ferguson R, Childs M, Okada A, Sheehy S, Tatlow-Golden M, Childs A (2020). Creating a framework of fun and learning: using balloons to build consensus. Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Game-Based Learning ECGBL 2020 pp. 151-159.

King, A., Prior, H., & Waddington-Jones, C. (2019). Connect resound: Using online technology to deliver music education to remote communities. Journal of Music, Technology and Education, 12(2), 201–217.

Okada, A. (2020).  Distance education: Do students believe it should be fun? OpenLearn. URL []

Okada, A., & Sheehy, K. (2020, a). The value of fun in online learning: a study supported by responsible research and innovation and open data. Revista e-Curriculum, 18(2).

Okada, A., & Sheehy, K. (2020, b). Factors and Recommendations to Support Students’ Enjoyment of Online Learning With Fun: A Mixed-Method Study During COVID-19. In Frontiers in Education (Vol. 5, No. 1).

Salavuo, M. (2008). Social media as an opportunity for pedagogical change in music education. JMTE, 31(8), 121–136.

Sheehy, K. (2017). Ethics, epistemologies, and inclusive pedagogy. International Perspectives on Inclusive Education (Vol. 9).