null ArtsEqual researcher's profile - Guadalupe López-Íñiguez

Photo: Erica Nyholm

Dr. Guadalupe López-Íñiguez is a Spanish scholar-musician living in Helsinki. Her PhD in Psychology examined the psychological processes involved in acquiring musical knowledge among string instrument players, teachers and students from constructivist perspectives. Her current artistic and scientific research project at the Sibelius Academy, funded by the Kone Foundation, is on Beethoven’s and Mendelssohn’s cello works. She has published in international peer-reviewed journals and works as a cello performer and recording artist.

Contact:, tel. +358 (0) 449719422

What is your ArtsEqual research about?

My research focuses on analyzing which psychological processes, learning conditions, and types of academic and artistic results are related to holistic music learning in the area of classical music when approaching musical performance. In that respect, I am carrying out an artistic and scientific work for the study of Beethoven’s and Mendelssohn’s complete cello works by following a research triangulation, embracing different mechanisms that might relate to many of the faces of equality.

These mechanisms include: 1) a constructivist system for learning instrumental music, 2) a self-regulating learning approach linked to 17 types of academic emotions and deliberate practice, 3) an empirical musicology approach linked to historically informed performance practice, and 4) an autoethnographic perspective. I intend to achieve such depth in my own beliefs and practices towards this music, which can then inspire the scientific and educational communities by offering people a world of learning possibilities (and not only in the music field).

What are the (current) problems which your research will solve?

Music students at all levels are facing a challenge: they do not feel autonomous when learning because teaching has traditionally focused on transferring knowledge in a unidirectional way, from teachers (who seem to know everything) to students (who are believed to know nothing). My research explores the mechanisms that are involved in autonomous learning from early stages of instruction until one becomes a professional musician, but also how collaborative learning (such as teacher-student relationships or chamber music) can be built upon constructivists methods. By identifying those mechanisms, I can affect the future pedagogical practices in music schools, conservatoires, and universities, nationally and internationally, leading to happier, more motivated, more regulated, more personal, and more autonomous musicians with long-lasting careers.

How does your research relate to the main purpose of ArtsEqual?

Socially, my research aims primarily at empowering and inspiring different educational agents at different levels. I want to reach sensibility towards students’ learning in the students themselves, first of all, but also in their teachers, their parents, their friends and colleagues, and in the persons behind the power in educational and political institutions. I strive to involve every music learner in institutions equally, because I believe everybody can learn. But I do not want every student to learn and play in the same way, therefore becoming standards (as it often happens). I want to help and support developing environments that offer a world of possibilities in which learners truly feel represented, so that they can find their own voices and interests.

For me, equality in basic arts education has a direct relationship to high quality teaching and learning, and that has always been at the core of my research. Students should have opportunities to receive instruction that builds on those interests and differences, and on their strengths, developing a sense of belonging and specifically centered on their intrinsic motivation. In my experience as a musician and researcher, I have found that constructivism is the most powerful approach to help individuals raise their voices according to the universality and necessity of their fields—in our case, music. Personally, I try to explore it all in my own learning of classical-romantic cello music as an artist-academic expert in educational psychology and historically informed performance practice. After my strong training, I owe it to society to become a real active agent of my own musical development; this is the only way I can later guide and inspire others to find their own paths.

Who will benefit from your research and how?

The whole academic community in arts education, but also in other sciences, will benefit, as the methods involved in my research help build bridges between different learning theories and related practices that are, although domain-specific, partly universal to human cognition. In that regard, my research previously had an influence on different fields of knowledge, from both practical and theoretical standpoints.

I want to keep working along that line because general knowledge cannot be understood by narrowing it to simply fields such as music or math. Researchers should work collaboratively across domains, and that is actually the core at ArtsEqual project. In that respect, I am thrilled to be part of the exciting ArtsEqual adventure, where multiple perspectives and expertise are connected continuously. In many ways, that is another face of equality too: I would have access to everybody’s work and ideas, and they could access mine. Is that not wonderful?

What is your vision about Finland in the future from the perspective of arts, equality and well-being?

When I first came here in 2009, I dreamt of learning everything about instrumental music education in Finland, the dream country for constructivists. Soon I noticed that although the tools, resources, and teaching-learning beliefs were far superior to what I was used to in my home country of Spain, the approaches to learning and professional practices were not that different.

I believe that if the Finnish education system continues to be supported financially, this country has an excellent chance to truly continue as a great egalitarian and constructivist country, with the privilege of reinventing itself according to the future demands of learners. I want people to appreciate that Finland is a student-friendly place that produces extensive and deep knowledge, not only in the arts. However, I want Finland to be aware of the situations and strengths of other countries too. ArtsEqual has plenty to say in that respect and I have some “outsider” perspectives to share with my colleagues. My other dream in relation to my personal well-being is to get more sunlight during the winter, but so far it seems difficult.

Do you have any advice or wish for all of us as a society or as individuals?

This is a big question. In connection to my comments above, my main goal in the arts, research, and in life has always been to develop empathy, which is the key to respect in personhood and an awareness of the self and others. When you develop empathy, you listen attentively to what others say, therefore learning from them. As a human being, I do not have the key to total happiness nor to fulfilling a perfect egalitarian life, but I believe empathy and motivation play the biggest roles.

Educationally speaking, I wish teachers and parents would treat students as equals regarding knowledge possession and transmission. Students know much more than we assume and, in most cases (because of generational reasons), even more than us. All of this is found in constructivism, and that is why I have embraced such a perspective to learning and living. We are all needed; we are all important. Just reflect deeply and find your motivation—that thing you feel passionate about—and commit your life to it. And do not be afraid of change or mistakes, as they are the drivers of holistic learning.


Research group: Basic Arts Education for All

Guadalupe López-Íñiguez’s homepage



Connections between constructivism and equality in instrumental music learning