Doctoral Candidates 


James Paradza (click here for a short biography) 


Title: "Beyoncé as an intersectional icon within the popular music genre: A collective case study exploring perceptions in South Africa"

Abstract: Intersectionality is receiving more attention than before in both popular culture and academia. Popular culture icons are increasingly using their platforms to address intersectional challenges resulting from elements of identity. Through her music, Beyoncé highlights how various social factors can affect one’s life, and provides listeners with methods to address and overcome these issues. This study explores perceptions in South Africa of Beyoncé as an intersectional icon within the popular music genre. To contextualise the burgeoning field of intersectionality and how it can be perceived in Beyoncé’s music, the development of intersectional thought and its portrayal within popular culture is probed through means of a traditional literature review to reveal how popular music can be a locus for social change within popular culture. A collective case study within a qualitative social constructivist paradigm was used to explore the perceptions of a diverse group of 38 participants (ages 20 to 54) across different races, genders, ethnicities and nationalities. The visual albums Lemonade (2016) and Black is King (2020) served as two instrumental case studies for this project, whereby data was collected through the combination of diary entries and individual semi-structured interviews with the participants. Intersectional theory and the cultural diamond framework were combined to form the theoretical framework of the study, and were used in combination with reflexive thematic analysis to analyse and interpret the data. The preliminary findings of the study reveal that many of the participants relate to the intersectional issues portrayed in Beyoncé’s music. Not all of the participants appreciated Beyoncé’s methods, as they perceived them as commercial and unrelatable. However, the most predominant perception was that Beyoncé plays a pivotal role in the portrayal of intersectionality in the popular music genre and, subsequently, popular culture

Supervisor: Dr. Hanli Stapela

E-mail: [email protected] 


Marna Hendriks (click here to view a short biography) 


Title: "Generalist Intermediate Phase teachers’ experiences of teaching mathematics through music integration (Gauteng, South Africa)"

Abstract: Traditional instructional methods used to teach mathematics in schools worldwide, such as lecturing from the textbook and neglecting conceptual understanding, have been attributed to factors that contribute to low mathematics achievement. Some teachers’ negative attitudes towards mathematics and lack of teaching experience contribute to the inadequate academic performance of learners in mathematics. In South Africa, the overall achievement level in Intermediate Phase mathematics is still lower than the long-term achievement goal of the Department of Education. Therefore, a more effective and creative teaching and learning approach is needed. 

In South Africa, Creative Arts form part of the subject Life Skills in the Intermediate phase. Four art forms, music, dance, drama, and visual arts, are included in Creative Arts. Generalist primary school teachers should be able to teach all subjects, including Creative Arts. Many of these teachers lack the required knowledge, skills, and confidence to teach music. If generalist teachers can be empowered to confidently integrate music in the classroom, these learning experiences might shape learners’ perspectives about learning and their enthusiasm to learn specific subjects. Mathematical concepts can successfully connect with a meaningful context through music activities. Therefore, a strong argument can be made to integrate music into effective mathematics teaching and learning. Music integrated learning activities can make the mathematics class come alive. 

This study proposes to assist generalist teachers (Gauteng, South Africa) in implementing music-mathematics integrated learning experiences. If generalist teachers can be empowered to integrate music in the classroom with more confidence, this can enhance their teaching skills and strengthen learning practices. An integrated curriculum should prepare learners for the opportunities, challenges, and skills needed in the world today

Supervisor: Dr. Sonja Cruywagen

E-mail: [email protected]


Nathalie Roué (click here to view a short biography) 


Title: "Exploring the feasibility of an El Sistema-inspired community music programme for a South African university"

Abstract: This study concerns community music outreach programmes internationally, as embodied in the El Sistema programmes of Venezuela that inspired many similar initiatives across the globe. The aim is to explore whether an El Sistema-inspired programme may be a feasible option to establish at the University of Pretoria. To ensure that I obtain a complete perspective of all the aspects related to the feasibility of a possible El Sistema-inspired music programme at a South African university, I will interview both international participants who have founded El Sistema-inspired programmes in other countries, and musicians or music educators who have established community music outreach programmes in South Africa. This research is worth doing as it would lead to a better understanding of how a community music outreach programme could be adapted to the unique context of the University of Pretoria, one of the largest residential universities in the country. 

Supervisor: Dr. Dorette Vermeulen, Practical: Abri Jordaan

E-mail: [email protected]


Oluwakayode Ibiayo (click here to view a short biography)


Title: "A style discussion of Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph’s Pendulum for Piano and Orchestra and a comprehensive catalogue of her orchestral, chamber and piano compositions"

Abstract: Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph is a South African composer and pianist with a proven track record. Her numerous achievements and most importantly her contributions to South African classical and indigenous music are worthy of mention. Over the years, she has been recognised both locally and internationally for her contributions by receiving numerous awards, honorary positions, as well as commissions; most notably an award given to her by former South African President - Thabo Mbeki. Her works have been performed both locally and internationally and her compositional style mostly features diverse musical elements and devices from the post-tonal era; some of which uniquely sets her apart from her contemporaries and establishing her as a renowned composer in South Africa. This study includes a brief biography on Zaidel-Rudolph, as well as a catalogue of the composer’s orchestral, chamber and piano compositions. This research explores the background to the chosen work and the inspiration behind the creation of selected works. Furthermore, the compositional techniques employed by the composer, as well as the distinguishing features of her compositional style are also discussed. This study additionally aims to analyse the selected piece regarding mostly harmonic devices and techniques, melody, rhythm, form structure, and texture. The piece under discussion is comprehensively discussed with emphasis on the above parameters. Further research could focus on a style discussion of Zaidel-Rudolph’s more recent compositions in other genres and in different instrumental ensembles.

Supervisor: Prof. Alexander Johnson

E-mail: [email protected]


Roelien Holland-Müter (click here to view a short biography) 


Title: "The perceived value of orchestra participation in government funded high schools in Tshwane South"

Abstract: There are an abundant number of studies that focus on the importance of active musicmaking, but an extensive literature search reveals that little research has been done that specifically focuses on participants in high schools in the Tshwane South district. In this study, the aim is to explore and understand the perceived value of orchestra participation in government funded high schools in Tshwane South. Using a mixed method approach in order to find data, this ethnographic study will investigate the pivotal reasons for high school students initially joining the orchestras at government funded high schools in the Tshwane South district. Finally, the study intent to explore the aspects experienced by orchestra members leads to increased retention within high school orchestras.

Supervisor: Dr. Michael Barrett-Berg

E-mail: [email protected]


Shirley Marang Kekana (click here to view a short biography) 


Title: "Exploring early childhood music experts’ practices to guide generalist pre-service teacher education in Southern Africa"

Abstract: The aim of this study was to explore expert music educators’ instructional methodologies in order to guide the tertiary education of early childhood generalist pre-service teachers in Southern Africa. A multiple case study research design was conducted within a qualitative paradigm. Participants included eight expert music educators from Southern Africa with specialised tertiary qualifications in music education and at least eight years of experience teaching young children in ECE settings, as well as having presented workshops in music education to other teachers. Data collection included: in-depth semi-structured interviews via zoom and skype; lesson observation (videos) and document analysis of their lesson plans, scheme of work and curriculum frameworks. In order to validate the findings, a methods triangulation was used. The theoretical lenses employed for this study, the sociocultural learning which positions in a cultural context and endorse social interaction confirm the findings of the study. Key findings of the study reveals a challenge in the music teacher training programmes The results indicate the need for specialised tertiary music programmes that include professional guidance through internship and mentoring to equip pre-service ECE educators with hands-on proficiencies and experiential knowledge.

Supervisor: Dr. Dorette Vermeulen

E-mail: [email protected]


Tamlyn Harker (click here to view a short biography) 


Title: "Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder in Professional Instrumental Musicians" 

Abstract: The study aims to explore the lived experiences of professional instrumental musicians living and working with Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (HSD). In this project, a select group of professional musicians from around the world, who play a variety of instruments, will be interviewed, and their experiences will be analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. This analysis will be used to gain a rich understanding of the experiences of these musicians, leading to the gathering of data which can be used in later studies to assess the effects of HSD on the community of professional instrumental musicians on a larger scale. The project comes as a continuation of a previous masters study by the same researcher which investigated the Performance-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders and experience of HSD in amateur violinists. This masters study found that understanding of HSD and its effects were greatly underdeveloped among the participants of the study. Additionally, the field of HSD research is relatively unexplored, especially within the musicology lens. The proposed doctoral study will address the general experiences of musicians with HSD, and will attempt to create a greater awareness of the risk factors and effects of the spectrum of disorders.

Supervisor: Prof. Clorinda Panebianco 

E-mail: [email protected]


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