IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Q&A with Dr David Baker

Dr David Baker is an Associate Professor based in the Department of Culture, Communication and Media. He is the Programme Leader for the Music Education MA.

What attracted you to take up your position at IOE?

IOE is well-known globally for cutting-edge research and scholarship across disciplines related to education, culture, social justice, psychology and the social sciences. Our research informs IOE’s courses and teaching too.

The faculty has a rich heritage in teacher training since its inception as the London Day Training College in 1901.

Over the years, it has produced some of the most notable figures in my field of Music Education. It was a privilege to become part of IOE, and to have the opportunity to work alongside colleagues and students involved in such a broad range of interesting research areas, methodologies, and teaching and learning approaches. Students and staff members all benefit greatly from the discussions, collaborations, support and sense of community that brings.

How long have you been at IOE?

I have been at IOE since 2011. I came to UCL following academic roles at Reading University and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. I also have a background as a performing musician and music teacher, having worked in primary and secondary schools. 

What do you most enjoy about your position and why?

The role is testament that we are all lifelong learners. IOE attracts students from many countries around the world. They have been music learners and educators in a wide array of educational systems. Some are pre-service, some aspiring teachers, with some also having established careers as school or instrumental teachers, working for charities, or having management roles in government education departments, etc. This leads to a fascinating sharing of knowledge and experience within our postgraduate taught sessions and during doctoral supervisions.

Both the students and myself are always learning something new. 

What is the focus of your research and what benefits do you hope your discoveries or insights will bring?

My research in Music Education is wide-ranging and in recent years, I have published on: informal music learning; classical soloists' life histories and music conservatoires; disability, including on blind and partially-sighted musicians; and the impact of instrumental learning in schools, among other things.

Research findings have fed into my teaching at IOE, informed practice in various educational settings, generated new assistive technologies, and also provided a “voice” to un- or under-researched groups through my publications.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

There have been so many highlights since joining IOE, so it is extremely hard to choose one. I was very fortunate to be involved in Lucy Green’s research on informal learning in Music Education.

My research on blind and partially-sighted musicians, which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, has been a highlight too.

This took me into a network of wonderful musicians globally to consider issues of e.g., assistive technology use, access and inclusion, identity, and social justice. I have also greatly enjoyed serving as Academic Head of Teaching and Learning at IOE, supporting students and our various programme teams.

What's the most important thing you've learned from your students about the subject you teach?

Reflecting on Music Education research and published scholarship in an academically-critical way is transformative for our students. They return to their education roles and home countries with fresh ideas that subsequently, enrich the lives of children and adult learners.

Feedback from former students shows how memorable and important their time with us has been both personally and professionally.

Do you think being in London and UCL benefits your work and why?

London has strong historical traditions in the arts that have attracted the finest musicians from around the world for centuries. That continues today. Near IOE is the site of the Foundling Hospital, linked to Handel’s charitable activities in the 18th century. 

Today, London has: iconic recording facilities like Abbey Road Studios, where The Beatles recorded; major concert halls such as the Royal Festival Hall and the Royal Albert Hall; world-class orchestras like the BBC Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, and the Philharmonic; a flourishing pop music industry; and, also, the Notting Hill Carnival, representing Britain’s extremely rich multicultural society. 

There are musicians and music educators spanning a huge variety of genres, backgrounds, and creative approaches.

There are creatives generating new forms of music, innovating globally-significant technologies, and pushing out fresh educational initiatives. London is, without doubt, an exciting place for a musician, music educator and researcher!

Reflecting on music education research and published scholarship in an academically-critical way is transformative for our students.

What other subject outside of your area of specialism interests you?

I am interested in creative processes using digital technologies, including the use of Digital Audio Workstations, sample libraries and software plugins.

What might it surprise people to know about you?

My initial career aspirations were to play the trumpet in an orchestra. Like many musicians, my career has been an ever-changing portfolio of activities, and I never expected to be working in Higher Education. I am both surprised and delighted that my journey has led me here.

Last updated 27 June 2023.