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Slow listening and philosophical questioning in the museum

Slow listening and philosophical questioning in the museum with Cecilie Skøtt

How can we engage children with classical music in the museum environment?  Today, I’m talking to Cecilie Skøtt about how to engage students with the music of Carl Nielsen through a blend of philosophical questioning and the art of slow listening.

Cecilie Skøtt is a mediation designer at Hans Christian Andersen’s House and the Carl Nielsen Museum in Denmark. 

Cecilie plays a key role in crafting and delivering school programmes for both museums, as well as interacting with visitors of all ages on weekends and holidays. With a passion for literature and dialogical teaching in the arts, Cecilie focuses on easing classroom-related anxiety and uses her expertise to create memorable museum experiences for children and families

Today we’re chatting about how the Carl Nielsen museum engages students in classical music. At the museum, they’ve been teaching from an Open Questioning Mindset (OQM) and using Philosophical Dialogue for a few years now.

OQM is both a teaching method and a mindset developed by Peter Worley to engage students in different topics, concepts, and stories. The method offers different tools and techniques for asking open and engaging questions, and to quickly create an environment where children feel safe and comfortable speaking their minds.

Slow listening is a natural extension to the philosophical questioning environment and allows children to deeply connect with Nielsen’s music. In two new programmes developed for schools the Carl Nielsen Museum combines all three to engage students with classical music.

Listen to the episode or read the transcript below to discover more about the Carl Nielsen Museum, philosophical questioning techniques and slow listening. 


Claire Bown: Hello and welcome to The Art Engager podcast with me, Claire Bown. I’m here to share techniques and tools to help you engage with your audience and bring art, objects and ideas to life. So let’s dive into this week’s show.

Hello and welcome back to The Art Engager podcast. I’m your host, Claire Bown of Thinking Museum and this is episode 129. Today, I’m talking to Cecilia Skøtt about how to engage students with the music of Carl Nielsen through philosophical questioning and slow listening. How can we engage children with classical music in the museum environment?

But before our chat, don’t forget in last week’s episode, I was talking to Kylie Neagle about how the Art Gallery of South Australia supports self guided visits for teachers and students. If you haven’t listened to it yet, do go back and download episode one, two, eight. And don’t forget that The Art Engager has over 100 episodes to choose from.

You can take your pick from the back catalogue of different episodes to brush up on your skills, be inspired and learn new techniques. And if you’d like to shape future episodes, get in touch. If you’ve got a question for the show, maybe an idea for a theme or a subject we haven’t yet talked about, or if you want to suggest a guest, don’t hesitate to reach out.

I’m always eager to hear from you, especially if you’re doing innovative work with engagement with art objects and audiences in museums and heritage. And finally, please support The Art Engager and help it to thrive into the future. You can buy me a cup of tea on buymeacoffee. com forward slash Claire Bown.

All right, let’s get on with today’s episode. So my guest today, Cecilia Skøtt, is a mediation designer at the Hans Christian Andersen House and the Carl Nielsen Museum in Denmark. Cecilia plays a key role in crafting and delivering school programmes for both museums, as well as interacting with visitors of all ages on weekends and holidays.

With a passion for literature and dialogical teaching in the arts, Cecilia focuses on easing classroom related anxiety and uses her expertise to create memorable museum experiences for children. and families. So today we’re chatting about how the Carl Nielsen Museum engages students in classical music.

Now at the museum they’ve been teaching from an open questioning mindset and using philosophical dialogue for a few years now. OQM is both a teaching method as well as a mindset developed by Peter Worley to engage students in different topics and concepts and ideas. The method offers different tools and techniques for asking open and engaging questions and to quickly create an environment where children feel safe and comfortable speaking their minds.

The slow listening that we talk about in this episode is a natural extension to the philosophical questioning environment and it allows students to deeply connect with Nielsen’s music. So in two new programmes developed for schools, they combine all three of these to engage students with the music of Carl Nielsen.

So learn to discover more about the Carl Nielsen Museum and their work in music education, philosophical questioning techniques, and slow listening. Here’s our conversation. Enjoy.

Cecilie Skøtt: Hi, Cecilia, and welcome to The Art Engager podcast.

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Claire Bown: So could you start by telling us a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Cecilie Skøtt: Yes, I’m a mediation designer at both the Carl Nielsen Museum and Hans Christian Andersen’s house. And I’m responsible for the school programmes and All students from kindergarten through upper secondary schools at both museums.

Claire Bown: And we’re going to focus today on the Carl Nielsen Museum and a programmeme that you’ve designed there. So can you perhaps give us an introduction for listeners who don’t know the museum and who are unaware of who Carl Nielsen is? Perhaps a little introduction to him and his work.

Cecilie Skøtt: Yeah, so Kal Nielsen is one of Denmark’s most famous composers.

He wrote six symphonies, a line of concerts and operas and also chamber music. So there’s a great variety in his works, but also within each work themselves. So he liked to experiment and he didn’t really follow traditional conventions of classical music of the time. He was born in 1865 in Funen, where he led a simple and humble life with his family.

And his father was working as a painter, but he played traditional dance music or folk music as well. So music has always been a great part of Nielsen’s life.

Claire Bown: And I think I found a quote. I was doing a little bit of research into Karl Nelson and his music.

I was listening to his music, reading a little bit about him. And there’s one of his quotes, music is life. And I felt that really reflected his kind of attitude towards life as well.

Cecilie Skøtt: Yeah, definitely.

So, he would see music as being absolute music, so this is also something that we teach the students here, that we differ between absolute music and programmemed music. And Nielsen said that music was absolute music. That. It didn’t reflect any other meaning but the sound itself. And so that was what he meant with music is life, because life and music the same and they have room for every emotion, the life and death and love and hate, it’s everything. Destruction as well as creation.

Claire Bown: Absolutely.

And can you tell me a little bit about the museum itself and how you are set up for education and learning at the museum?

Cecilie Skøtt: Yeah, so the museum, it was rebuilt or reconstructed. We opened again last summer and the museum conveys Nielsen’s life through the music, so you get a feeling that music and its complexity and duality is central part of the museum experience. So in this way, we can say that it’s a new approach to a composer’s museum.

So rather than having, The biography of Nielsen help us understand the music. We have the music itself as the key to get to know Nielsen and his universe. So this duality in the compositions, they show us a composer who has an understanding of both the complex and the simple. There’s the calm and the wild and he mixes traditional and modern and that’s what the museum shows here.

And as for our educational setup. We are working as a team in children and youth across all the different brands in Museum Odense. So we are four mediation designers working with Hans Christian Andersen. And after Carl Nielsen reopened last summer I sort of got Nielsen under my wing as well. So, we have different areas of responsibility and my responsibility is the school programmes.

So I both teach and develop and we all mediate in every aspect. So I teach, but I also mediate for school, for families and visitors on their own in weekends and holidays. And we all do that.

Claire Bown: And that gives you unique insights as well. I can imagine both designing and facilitating programmes for all types of audiences.

Cecilie Skøtt: Yes, exactly. So it’s a great way of keeping up to date. So we don’t really, we never really see our programmes as being finished. So now we have a finished, developed programme. We always adapt and we also always change if we feel like we learn something new we can add or take out.

Claire Bown: So, we’re here today to talk a little bit about two programmes that caught my eye.

I think I was maybe scrolling on LinkedIn and I came across a post by yourself. And you were talking about these programmes that engage students with the music of Carl Nielsen, but through philosophical questioning and slow listening. So can you talk a little bit about what inspired these programmes?

Cecilie Skøtt: Yeah, so we have been working with open questioning mindset and philosophical dialogue at the Hans Christian Andersen House since a few years now, and we brought that into Carl Nielsen as well, and I feel like slow listening in the way we use it is a natural extension of this open questioning mindset.

And open questioning mindset is both a teaching method as well as a mindset developed by Peter Worley to engage students in different topics and concepts and stories. So the method offers the teacher. different tools and techniques for asking open and engaging questions, and to quickly create an environment where the children feel safe and comfortable speaking their minds.

And I suppose we all know this feeling of having to guess what the teacher’s thinking, and we really want to move away from that. So we only ask questions when we need their answers, and when we don’t have the answers ourselves. And that could be when we’re interested in their experiences with the art and their opinions upon it and not any facts regarding the artworks.

So that’s what we tell them. Very clear about when we are telling them something that’s a fact and then when we are interested in their thoughts and their opinions. And whenever they do answer, we never give them any. positive or negative feedback. Often we want to encourage students to say more or to stay actively engaged in the conversation.

But if we say something like, yeah, good or interesting, that suggests that this was a correct answer. And if they’re right answers, they’re also wrong answers. So we never give any feedback to the answers. We simply just thank them for their contribution. And whenever we do this pure philosophical dialogue, we always place the students in a circle.

And we do that because we don’t want it to be a teacher student dialogue, but we want it to be them having this communal reasoning together around the questions. So, it’s not like their answers are set either. They can change their minds as they discuss the different topics we throw up for them. And when we have these philosophical dialogues, they always start with some kind of stimulus, which could be a piece of music, or it can be a story, or it can be an object and then we ask them these open questions, and the questions can be either, they can be grammatically closed and still conceptually open then, and that’s all right as well, so that we always want them to be conceptually open at least, even though they can be grammatically closed.

An example of that could be, we talk to them about whether or not they think you steal from another artist if you let yourself be inspired. So,  do we steal when we are inspired by others? An answer to that could be yes and no, so it’s a grammatically closed question, but It still requires some sort of explanation as to why.

So it can still be conceptually open. And whenever they answer the questions, they do it in pairs first because that’s less vulnerable than to having to speak your mind to the whole group in the beginning. So you can sort of test your thoughts with your partner first, and then you’ve tried to formulate yourself before speaking your mind.

Telling everybody what you think. And we think that slow listening in this sense seems like a quite natural extension to the open questioning mindset. So we use the music as a stimulus and talk to the students about their experience of the music, what they heard and what they noticed. And after that, we discuss it everybody and then we listen to the same part of the music again and see if they notice something new or if it’s the same they see again or maybe they are inspired by each other as well by the things that their peers have seen.

Claire Bown: So all of these elements that you describe from the opening questioning mindsets, the philosophical questioning, the slow listening, all of these come together in two programmes that you’ve developed for students. One’s called Music Dynamite, the other one’s called Labels. Can you tell us a little bit about these programmes?

Shall we start with for younger children. That’s Music Dynamite, isn’t it?

Cecilie Skøtt: Yes, this is our programme for kindergarten to third grade. It’s called Music Dynamite because after Nielsen’s first performance of his first symphony, many people loved it. But there was this one critic who wrote in the newspaper that it sounded like a child playing with dynamite.

And we’re quite sure that Nielsen might have liked that comment and he would have found it fun that it said so in the papers. And part of the programme is a game with music dynamite and I can explain that as we go through the whole programme if you like.

The programmes are about one and a half hours and of that one and a half hour, we have 20 minutes of listening to music. And the programme is divided into three main parts. And each part consists of either music and a sound experience, as well as a storytelling and a game that supports that, the music from that part.

And they always take place outside the museum’s opening hours. So the students aren’t disturbed by other guests and we’re also able to play certain music without it overlapping with the museum’s music. That’s one of the difficulties with having a museum exhibiting sound, because you have to be able to listen to it.

So we start with meeting the students outside and we bring them in. And now, as I said, It’s from kindergarten up to third grade, so that’s quite a wide age span, but we always adapt to the group that we’re with, so some parts might be a bit longer if the students are up for it, so we always sense that.

group and each individual child that we’re working with. And the first part is where they are introduced to Carl Nielsen and then to the museum. So we talk about why it’s called the Carl Nielsen Museum and what a composer is. So we talk about how Nielsen wrote all this music for others to play. And this is a quite fun part because the younger the students are, the more likely they are to think of art and artists as being paintings and painters. So we expand their concept of art here in the beginning, and then we introduce to the students to Nielsen’s view on art as well. So he wrote all these beautiful melodies, but he also liked to create music that others found ugly or that people didn’t understand. He didn’t like to follow the rules of the art.

So he saw himself as a child because children are able to do the same. Children know how to behave nicely, sit still and be quiet, follow the rules, but they also know how to be loud and crazy and fun and sometimes do things that they know they’re not supposed to do. And Nielsen said that when they do that, when you do things that you’re not supposed to do, that’s when you’re making art.

So he said that every child is an artist, and the people who can still see the world in a different way, like children can do, they are the ones who get to call themselves artists when they grow up.

So when we introduce Carl Nielsen as a composer, they often think of someone fancy or something fine. And then we show them pictures of him, so for them to better relate to him. And whenever Nilsen had his pictures taken, he would make funny faces. And here they start laughing, and we talk about how he would do all these crazy things, even though he made this beautiful music.

And here we have a game where we, as the mediators, are playing a photographer from Nielsen’s time. So we have brought a camera which is just our hands and fingers formed like a square and we are there to take pictures of them. And in the first round they’re supposed to just sit still and nicely and second round they have to do like Nielsen did.

They have to make funny faces and sometimes It’s easier to make a funny face if you put some sound on it as well. So they might stick their tongues out or something like that. And this is really fun. And all the while we just, we tell them how artistic they are when they do these funny faces.

 During the session we work with the latest Danish research on play, on children’s playtime. And here they have divided play practices into four different categories and the practices are the things that we do when we play, and for each practice is also a play atmosphere, which is how, what we experience when we play.

And these four categories, we think, can fit quite nicely to Nielsen’s many different kinds of music. So, we have chosen games that specifically fit two different play atmospheres. So they get to learn the many different sides to Nielsen’s music, but also the different sides to themselves when they listen to the music.

So during this game, where they have to make faces and step out of line, is what we would call a euphoric play atmosphere. So they do something unpredictable and they make funny faces and it can be sort of manic and overdone. And That’s some of the characteristics of euphoric playtime.

When they play by themselves, a euphoric play atmosphere can’t really last that long. So often it will fade out by itself and they’ll come back to some of the other atmospheres again. So an example of that could also be if you’re at home with your family eating dinner, you have your kids playing about, doing stuff with their food or saying the weirdest noises or the loudest things .

If you just let it be, it will fade out and they’ll come back to sit normally, because this euphoric atmosphere comes over them and then that’s a way of them feeling their bodies and such. So that’s why we do this euphoric game first here.

Claire Bown: And I remember that from mealtimes when my kids were younger as well.

Yeah. A moment comes over them and then, yeah, as you say, it just goes afterwards.

Cecilie Skøtt: Yes, exactly. And for me personally, I think my understanding of play time now has developed quite a lot. When I started working in the museum, I thought that when I was giving a tour or teaching something, and the kids would do these things, I was like, oh okay, maybe we’re supposed to finish up now, maybe they’re getting tired, or they can’t focus anymore, but They will come back.

It’s just this is a way they learn as well. So it’s really important for them to have this and not to be made to feel wrong for doing it. So this is why we specifically encourage this game right here.

And especially in the museum as well. Yes,

Claire Bown: yeah,

Cecilie Skøtt: definitely. So they feel like this is a place where they will come with everything that they are and every facet of their play as well.

Claire Bown: And this kind of warms them up as well, doesn’t it? So it gets gets people participating, and would you say it kind of prepares them for the listening that is to happen next?

Cecilie Skøtt: Yes, exactly. So we have these different breaks. So we know that 20 minutes of listening to classical music, During this one and a half hour, it’s quite a long time.

It’s a long time for them to just listen and it’s difficult for them. So it has to be fun so we have these different breaks where they feel some high arousal during these wilder games and then we have low arousal again where they calm down And listen. And we help them go up and down through the whole session.

So this definitely prepares them for the next part.

 And for part two, we go upstairs to the first floor. And as we walk through the exhibition, we make a deal out of letting them know that they will have time to explore on their own later. Because Then it’s easier for them to focus on the next part if they know that they will have time to look at that thing they just walked past that they really want to touch and see what it is.

And then we sit them down and we tell them that we want to tell them a story about something that happened in the world when Nielsen was 47 years old.

But before we tell them the story, we want to play a piece of music for them. And now we get to some slow listening. So we play Nielsen’s paraphrase on Nearer My God To Thee. And we listen for about two to two and a half minutes, which is a long time for the youngest ones. If they’re four or five years old, it’s a long time to listen to classical music for two and a half minutes.

And again, we adapt to the group. So if we can see they won’t succeed sitting still for this long, we will shorten a little bit. If they can sit more, we will lengthen it. And after they’ve listened to the music, we ask them, what did you think of when we listened to this music?

And sometimes they say something very specific, other times it’s just an atmosphere and emotion that they try to explain. Some say that it’s sounds scary, sounds like something bad is going to happen. And some say that they don’t really, didn’t think of anything, they just listened to the music, or some say that they’ve never heard anything like this before, so that’s what they were thinking about.

And I had this one boy saying, I thought about Jack Sparrow, because they play violins and Jack Sparrow, okay, so they think of Pirates of the Caribbean, so it’s like they listen to the music and connected to things they experience elsewhere. And then there was also once this young girl who said it reminded her of her grandmother because she had just been to her grandmother’s funeral and they played something similar to this in church. And so they listened to each other and they come with all these different things. And after that, we listen, we tell them the story about Titanic, because when Nilsen was 47, Titanic sank.

this large ship that was supposed not to sink and then it hit an iceberg and sank and then Nielsen learned that the musicians who worked on Titanic, They didn’t have a spot in the lifeboats and actually not very many people could get a spot in a lifeboat. And the musicians decided that they didn’t want to fight to get a spot.

They just, decided to play music for everybody. And Nielsen thought that was very brave and he wanted to honor these musicians by giving them their own piece of music.

So Nielsen found out what they had been playing as Titanic sank and they were playing Nearer My God To Thee and so he wrote a paraphrase on that and that’s what they had just listened to. And then we play the music once again and then sometimes they hear something new. Some of them say they hear the same thing, maybe it’s still scary, they can still hear Jack Sparrow also had in this second round, another girl who started thinking about her grandmother because the girl in the first round had mentioned hers.

But others are like, oh, I can hear something threatening coming now, this must be the iceberg. And then they connect it to the story as well. So they hear new things based upon what their peers have heard, but also. based on what we have told them. So they connect the story and the information we have given them to the music, but it doesn’t necessarily affect them.

So if they still think about their own idea of the music they will continue to do that as well.

Claire Bown: And Do you find that they listen more intently the second time? Are there any differences that you notice between the way the students interact with the music the first time and the second time?

Cecilie Skøtt: Yes it varies among all the children, so some listen more or less the same way. Some find it hard now to listen still because it’s been a long time, but others are like listening for things.

So they listen for the iceberg. So they will also comment while the music is playing. So, oh, That might be the iceberg or they’re listening together as well. So, so yeah, there’s definitely a change in the way they listen.

Yeah, so for Music Dynamite, this is the only slow listening in pure form, I’d say, because in the last part we have the Music Dynamite game, and here it’s a more bodily experience of the music, so we’re playing this game.

Because we tell them the story about how this critic wrote the comment in the papers about how it sounded like children playing with dynamite. And we say that we think letting children play with dynamite sounds kind of fun. Of course, not real dynamite, but music dynamite. And that we have some music dynamite here.

And the music dynamite is a mix of three of Nielsen’s works. So it’s a mix of three of Nielsen’s works. They first listen to an example of each work, and then we talk about the atmosphere that comes with this music. And we have these square shaped cushions that they can build with, so they have these blocks where they build a town.

we have a music room where they build this town, and then we play parts of the music. And the first part is very calm. We talk about how, when this music plays, they’re supposed to be citizens walking around the town, just walking around. And then they help us, like, how would that look if you were to walk around?

And they take turns showing us how to move around. And then the second part of the music plays, and that’s the dynamite. That’s when they are to blow up the town. They can run into the cushions. They can Sometimes they just sort of, just lean on it and fall into the town and they are, now they’re the dynamite blowing up.

And the third music is the soldier music, we call it, where they come in and rebuild. So they have to listen carefully to know what to do when during this game. And they don’t play in that order either, so it’s not like we have the calm, the dynamite, the soldiers. We have. Calm, dynamite, calm, soldiers, and then dynamite right after that.

So they really have to listen carefully, and they do that together. And sometimes they help each other listen, because after the dynamite blows, they want to rebuild. But then, oh no, this is not the soldier music. We have to work. calmly amongst all the ruins, looking at the devastation in town.

So, so they really have to listen carefully and The whole game here is about three minutes, and we play that twice, so they get a hang of what they’re going to do. And this here is what in play theory, we would call a high tense play atmosphere. So there’s excitement, It shifts in speed and volume and altitude as well.

It’s like when they climb trees and jump down and or riding down slides, stuff like that. The whole body is often involved in this type of game. And here, as well as in the other types of games, play. Some might not feel comfortable the whole way through, and that’s okay, because this is also for them to feel their own boundaries.

And maybe they like this wild game, but then after six minutes they withdraw a little bit and just observe. And they are still actively engaged in the game when they’re observing. So that’s all right as well. And that doesn’t mean that it has been too wild. It’s okay for the others who are comfortable with this to feel this, and then some can withdraw.

It’s the same that happens afterwards, because now we have a different type of game. You have this high arousal music dynamite game. Now we’re going to calm down. And then we have this little nest with a lark in it. Nielsen has a very famous song that almost every child knows. they have heard it both at home or at school.

It’s called I Know a Lark’s Nest. And now they have the lark here and they have to put her to bed. And then they play another famous song of Nielsen’s called The Sun Is So Red, Mum, which is a lullaby and they have to sit in the circle and send the nest and put the little lark to bed. So this is a very calm game where they really calm down and it’s difficult for some of them as well.

So, As well as some might find the wild games difficult, it’s also difficult to do the calm games for some others. And that’s okay as well, so if they find it hard to sit still, we just help them the best we can so they can succeed. And then they put the little bird to bed, and after they have all done it we say that now the bird is sleeping, and now it’s their turn to go to bed.

But of course they don’t have to fall asleep, but they have to relax now. And We want the last thing they experience in the museum to be the music. So before we play the last music for them we say goodbye to them and talk to them about how we hope they have learned something new, both about Carl Nielsen and about themselves during their visit.

and we tell them that we have definitely learned something. We learned that Nielsen was right when he said that children are all artists because they have shown us that today in the way that they express themselves in the playtime with us. And so we play the last song and we tell them as the music starts fading they can just slowly stand up and go out put on their shoes and their coats wrap their backs and then This is goodbye and thank you for their visit.

And then they just lay down, some sit, some lay down on the ground. They have these cushions to play, to lay on and they listen to the music and then they slowly walk out. So they walk out with the music and that’s the last part of their experience.

Claire Bown: I love the sound of it. Just from beginning through to the middle part, and the way you kind of just so gently end the programmeme as well, it sounds wonderful.

How does then the programme for older students, how does that differ? So what new things are you bringing into the programme for the older students?

Cecilie Skøtt: Yeah, so, the Labels programme is for 7th to 10th grade, so they’re a bit older and it differs in the sense that we don’t really have playtime as such, but there’s still playful elements in the way that we warm up, and in the way that we tune in on their culture as well.

They have so many things going on and in understanding that we can meet them on their terms and we can create the best possible visit for them. So here we have extended philosophical dialogues with them and we listen for longer to the music. And Labels is about both how Nielsen was, impossible to label, really, and he would be annoyed with critics and people trying to label both his music and him as an artist because he didn’t, he mixed everything, he didn’t want to be put in a box.

And so the Labels programme explores how we as people tend to label both each other and everything around us and how the students feel about that.

So, As we introduce the older students to Carl Nielsen, we talk about how he didn’t like different labels and how we all label each other all the time. And when we start the slow listening session, we listen to a part of Symphony No. 5. And here, they don’t know the question beforehand, so they just listen to the music.

And afterwards, we ask them. What labels would you put on this music? So they discuss that with their partners. So what label would you put on this? And they always say different things It’s so far from everything they usually hear in pop culture. That’s what they usually engage with.

But also They say something like it’s dramatic or it’s extraordinary. There are many instruments, but it’s also dark And so we, we allow everything to come in. Sometimes they also say things like, ‘Oh, it sounds bad’ . And we accept everything. Cause that’s part of creating this safe environment.

And so we take every contribution equally serious. So like, ‘okay, you think it sounds bad . Which part was the worst part? Like, what makes you say that? Why could, how could it be better?’ And that makes them reflect upon, okay, why do I think the way I think? And also a great understanding of each other why do some people think differently than from what I do?

Claire Bown: Absolutely. I’d love to move on to. thinking about the role of information in both the programmes, because you talk about storytelling and you also talk about I think earlier you mentioned that maybe you set the music within context before they listen to it and sometimes you don’t share any information, so can you talk me through your choices around what information you share and how you share it on the programme?

Cecilie Skøtt: so we we sometimes don’t really give any information before they listen to the music. And here we get this ‘clean’ experience for the students. They don’t have any idea what they’re about to listen to. they don’t listen for anything specific while listening.

Other times we tell them things beforehand. For example, we tell them a little bit about who Carl Nielsen was, how he felt about labeling before they listen to the music. But they don’t know exactly how we’re going to connect the two. So, I think Information plays a rather large role.

The more they know, of course, they’re going to connect that to the music they listen to. And that’s actually also something that we discuss with the older students. We talk about as I mentioned before, we differ between absolute music and programme music. So Nielsen would say that.

Music is absolute music, that the music always reflects music and not any other meaning. you can’t analyze anything out of this. This music is music. But at the same time, he would sort of help his audience by explaining his works.

he would use words to. explain his music. So we talked to them about, well, does that make a difference to you? Does it make a difference to you to know the story of an artwork and we do philosophy with the students on that as well.

Claire Bown: That’s super interesting.

And what sort of feedback do you get generally? Have you done any evaluation yet? I know it’s still early days, but can you share any feedback from teachers or students about the programme? Yeah,

Cecilie Skøtt: well, the teachers are usually very impressed with the dialogues, which often results in different students speaking their minds and that’s just I suppose something museums in general can do because we take the students out of their usual surroundings and the classroom setting where they have these very specific roles to play.

So here we can see every child the same way. We treat them equally as we don’t know them and then we will ask them the same questions and We get really good responses on that, and the same with the philosophical dialogue, because we’re so clear about Okay, now I’m telling you something that’s a fact.

Now I want to know what you think. So they’re not in doubt of whether or not they have to say something correct or not because they would be very clear about that and the teachers are really happy with that,

Claire Bown: and what are your plans for the future for the programmemes? You said the museum’s only been reopened, what is it, a year now?

So what have you got planned for the future?

Cecilie Skøtt: we are running the final tests of another programme for students in the middle from fourth until sixth grade, which is called The Sound of the Clarinet, which is a Carl Nelson Museum programme, but it takes place in one of the other museums in the city, in the Funen village, where we get a feeling of how it was like to be Carl Nielsen as a child, but the music is still the focus, so we bring the music into the village and hear stories of his childhood up there.

Claire Bown: So can you tell listeners about how they can find out more about the museum, about the Carl Nielsen Museum, and your work?

Cecilie Skøtt: Yes, definitely. I’d say that our museum website is the best place to go. You can see both our educational profile the methods that we engage with, read about the exhibition as well.

You can find the music of Nielsen’s on YouTube and you can also find me on LinkedIn where you can see what we’re working with currently.

Claire Bown: Brilliant. Thank you so much for being on The Art Engager. It’s been a pleasure talking to you. Thank you for having me.

Cecilie Skøtt: It was lovely.

Claire Bown: So a huge thank you to Cecilia for joining me on the podcast today.

Go to the show notes to find out more about her work at the Carl Nielsen Museum and to get in touch with her too. That just about wraps up this episode. Thank you for tuning in. I’ll see you next time. Bye.

Thank you for listening to the Art Engager podcast with me, Claire Bown. You can find more art engagement resources by visiting my website, thinking, and you can also find me on Instagram at Thinking Museum, where I regularly share tips and tools on how to bring art to life and engage your audience.

If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please share with others and subscribe to the show on your podcast player of choice. Thank you so much for listening, and I’ll see you next time.

Episode Links

Cecilie Horup Skøtt on LinkedIn:

Carl Nielsen Museum website:


Open Questioning Mindset and philosophy with children:

YouTube links for the music:

Symphony no. 5

Nielsen’s paraphrase on Nearer, My God, to Thee

Tågen Letter, played during Music Dynamite

Maskerade, Keraus, played during Music Dynamite