Publication details [#9701]

Schippers, Huib. 2006. 'As if a little bird is sitting on your finger...': Metaphor as a key instrument in training professional musicians. 10 pp. URL
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language


Various researchers over the past decades have established that verbal behaviour constitutes a substantial portion of total instruction time in music. The use of metaphor in these educational practices and the supporting music literature is rich and frequent. Numerous scholars support the view that metaphor in learning and teaching music touches the essence of making music, and cannot be dismissed as ‘impressionistic twaddle’. However, in the formal training of musicians, teaching strategies revolving around metaphor are rarely made explicit. Taking examples from various practices across the world, this article explores the use of metaphor and its potential for communicating greater understanding of technique, structure and musical meaning. The conclusions from this exercise support the argument that there is great potential in fully acknowledging the role of this teaching tool towards competent, sensitive and creative musicianship, both at professional and amateur levels. (Huib Schippers)