Learning Instruments: Baroque Music Gets Game

  • Jennifer Jenson
  • Suzanne de Castell
  • Nicholas Taylor
  • Milena Droumeva
  • Stephanie Fisher


In the context of diminishing opportunities for music learning in formal education, our team of educational researchers was given the opportunity to create a learning game for the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Toronto, Canada. In this chapter, we document the design and play-testing of a Flash-based Baroque music game, Tafelkids: The Quest for Arundo Donax, focusing on the tensions that arose between the directive to include historical facts about Baroque music and culture on one hand and, on the other, the need to produce opportunities for pleasurable play for an audience aged 8–14. We begin by setting out the concept of “ludic epistemology” in order to situate our design efforts within an emerging pedagogical paradigm, and we review key instances in our design process where we encountered this tension between two very different notions about the relationship of play to learning. Similar tensions arose in our play-testing sessions with over 150 students. We conclude with a discussion of the particular challenges for this educational game in enacting a bridge from propositions to play, digitally remediating a traditional approach to Baroque music education to address the broader epistemological question of what and how we come to know through play.


Educational Game Digital Game Musical Piece Play Session Musical Score 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to acknowledge the patronage and generous expertise of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra Society and the work of student designers, programmers, and artists: Andrew, Ben, Catherine, Davoud, Peter, and Tahereh. The Tafelmusik game is free and can be accessed at (accessed 17 March 2011).



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Jenson
    • 1
  • Suzanne de Castell
    • 2
  • Nicholas Taylor
    • 1
  • Milena Droumeva
    • 2
  • Stephanie Fisher
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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