Character creation and interpretation as a means of musical expression and technical improvement.

Research paper

During the first half of the 20th century, Brian Way and Peter Slade introduced informal drama into curriculum teaching, employing dramatic games and role-playing. In the seventies, Dorothy Heathcote’s methodology reshaped the relationship between Theatre and Drama, extending dramatic play from exclusive ties to the theater to a broader inclusion in education. This historical foundation influences the development of the techniques discussed in the research. It primarily focuses on two interrelated issues. Firstly, it delves into the development of mental capabilities for imagining and playing characters in an informal gaming context, aiming to address challenges related to anxiety, self-image, and self-judgment, ultimately contributing to improved overall performance. Secondly, it explores the potential of creating and embodying characters on stage, enhancing confidence, understanding, and communication of the musical message to the audience.

During the conference, a new methodology will be presented that aims to address the aforementioned problematics. This methodology involves the creation and interpretation of characters chosen by the students, based on imagery and specific keywords. The goal is to assess and reflect on the effectiveness of more traditional classroom approaches, develop mental strategies for confident presentations, and allow students to fully enjoy the already acquired violin technique in public performance contexts, with or without role-playing.

The interpretation of results from supervised pedagogical interventions, and based on qualitative referencing, revealed a significant technical improvement after the game. This suggests the efficacy of this approach beyond traditional teaching-learning processes, demonstrating immediate progress in the students.



Heathcote, D. (1984). Part two: the nature of Educational Drama. In Dorothy Heathcote: Collected writings on Education and Drama (pp. 41-110). London: Century Hutchinson.

Heathcote, D. & Bolton, G. (1995). Drama for learning: Dorothy Heathcote’s Mantle of the Expert approach to education (Dimensions of Drama). London: Pearson Education.

Kipper, D. (2002). Spontaneity: Does the experience match the theory? Action Methods, I, pp. 33-45.

McCaslin, N. (1968). Creative drama in the classroom. New York: Longman.

Way, B. (1967). Development through Drama. England: Longman House.

Wilhelm, J.D. & Edmiston, B. (1998). Imagining to learn: Ethics and Integration through Drama. Portsmouth: Heinemann.

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About the speaker

Mara Figueiredo, Violin

Mara Alina Figueiredo is a violinist and pedagogue who embarked on her musical journey at an early age, initially on the piano and later transitioning to the violin under the guidance of Suzanna Lidegran in Artave, Portugal. At eighteen, she pursued advanced studies at the Royal Brussels Conservatoire, graduating in violin performance. Mara studied with K. Sebestyen and Z. Kowalsky, former students and assistants of A. Grumiaux and A. Gertler. During her time there, she had the privilege of performing with notable artists such as Igor Oistrakh, Baiba Skride, Ning Kam, and H. Dutilleux, among others. In her formative years, Mara Alina Figueiredo attended masterclasses with Vadim Brodsky, Boris Kuniev, A. Michlin, and A. Swarzburg.

As a freelance musician, she collaborated with various Belgian and Portuguese orchestras, including Antwerpen Camerata, Brussels Conservatoire Orchestra, Kempisch Jeugdorkest, Sint-Paulus Orkest, Orquestra do Norte, and Orquestra das Beiras, to name a few. She is a member of Orquestra de Guimarães and regularly works with Sinfonietta de Braga. An enthusiastic chamber music player, she frequently performs with French pianist Stéphanie Elbaz in France and Portugal, exploring the romantic repertoire for violin and piano. Currently, she has a project with Portuguese pianist João Casimiro Almeida, focusing on minimalistic chamber music for violin and piano from the 20th and 21st century.

Ms. Figueiredo possesses extensive teaching experience at both beginner and advanced levels, holding a Masters degree in Music Education with a specialization in pedagogy from the University of Minho, where she studied with E. Lawson. In recent years, she has participated in workshops and conferences on teaching organized by ESTA (European String Teachers Association) and other institutions. During her master’s thesis research, Mara Alina Figueiredo developed a methodology inspired by drama and imaginary techniques, encouraging students to enhance their technical abilities in a game-inspired setting. Her primary research and artistic interests lie in integrating theater and dance elements in pedagogical and performing contexts.