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Arash Zanganeh, Candidate for Doctorate of Creative Arts-University of Southern Queensland

Profile Summary

Born in Tehran (1976), Arash is one of the founders of the Sufi Art Group. As a Persian percussionist, composer, writer and teacher, his work draws on Sufi traditions and Iranian regional folkloric music with the goal of preserving the art and culture of the east, while exploring Western musical traditions. His belief is that people’s needs for art are not classified through thought, class nor pleasure; rather, these needs are met through the sublime and through salvation from materialistic life.


Arash is a percussionist, arranger & composer for the culturally diverse World music Ensemble Diaspora whose repertoire includes pieces featuring the whole ensemble  using melodic and rhythmic motifs from diverse traditions as a departure point into an impromptu, improvised ‘music of the moment’. The set includes dynamic Tibetan, Celtic, European, Iraqi, and Iranian music as well as original compositions incorporating diverse modalities that also reflect the rich cultural diversity and fertile creative space in Australia.

An artist’s perspective on learning theory in professional development

My musical journey is an allegory of the journey from nothingness to existence.

A Case study Involved with Music

Theories offer significantly different perspectives and explain complex processes of human psychological development. To evaluate and interpret research, it is important to recognize one or more of the theoretical perspectives on which it is based.  This article will discuss Piaget’s (1936) Social Learning Theory and how it has impacted on my personal thinking and musical development (Diane E. Papalia, Ruth Duskin Feldman, & Gabriela Martorell, 2011, p. 30 Chapter 2).

Classic Social Learning Theory maintains that people learn appropriate social behavior chiefly by observing, heeding and imitating models; that is, by watching or listening to other people, such as teachers, or artists (Diane E. Papalia, Ruth Duskin Feldman, & Gabriela Martorell, 2011, p. 32). This process was exactly the way I learnt cultured music from childhood until I went to college[1].

It was astonishing to me when I realized how humans learn music through auditory processes. By breathing, moving, rhythmic chanting, singing, and playing instruments we develop auditory skills that allow us to give meaning to the combinations of rhythmic and tonal patterns that make music a unique form of human communication. This concept is the psychological theory of Jean Piaget (1936), who was the first psychologist to make a systematic study of cognitive development. Piaget (1936) is also know for his contributions to the theory of cognitive child development (Pavlou, 2014, p. 2).


The Perspective of a Human Development Learning Theory

My musical journey is an allegory of the journey from nothingness to existence.

I was born into an artistic family. My father, Maestro Ali Asghar khan Zanganeh[1] (Nasirifar, 1993, p. 365 Volume 2), was a famous Persian instrument makers who worked when music was forbidden under the theocratic regime in Iran (1984) (Lynch School of Education Boston College, 2014). The result was that our residence was often crowded with musicians who played covertly at that time. From the time I was eight years old I loved to play music. Regrettably, there were not any options to learn music formally at school or institutes. The only avenue to gaining a musical education was via listening and observing - which I did for a long time, until one day I suddenly started to play music with one of the instruments that my father had made. Fortunately, in my youth, the Art University was reopened, as a result of the persistent efforts of artists, and I was able to study Fine Arts for my bachelor’s degree.

It is interesting for me to discover now that the ‘method’ of my early musical education, shaped by circumstance, exemplifies a key theoretical perspective. According to the Edwin Gordon's Music Learning Theory[2] (1950's)


    "We are each born with music aptitude. As with other human learning potentials, there is a wide range of music aptitude levels distributed among the human population. Moreover, both music aptitude and music achievement are dependent on audition. That is, our music learning potentials and our music learning achievements are based on our music thinking." (Valerio, 2014, p. 01)


My musical journey is an allegory of the journey from nothingness to existence.

Both Gordon and Piaget argue that learning comes from one’s environment, and this has been my experience.

To summarize, my observational learning or modeling in music was an obvious result of the cognitive perspective which focuses on thought processes and the behavior that reflects those processes. It includes the cognitive-stage theory of Piaget and Edwin Gordon's sociocultural theory of cognitive development. It also includes the data conversion method and neo-Piagetian theories, which combine basics of information-processing theory and Piagetian theory. (Diane E. Papalia, Ruth Duskin Feldman, & Gabriela Martorell, 2011, p. 33)


My musical journey is an allegory of the journey from nothingness to existence.

Diane E. Papalia, Ruth Duskin Feldman, & Gabriela Martorell. (2011). Experience Human Development. Australia & New Zealand: McGraw-Hill.

Lynch School of Education Boston College. (2014). State-University Power Struggle at Times of Revolution and War in Iran. Retrieved from Center for International Higher Education:

Nasirifar, H. A. (1993). Traditional and modern Iranian music men " مردان موسیقی سنتی و نوین ایران ". Tehran: Rad. Retrieved from

Pavlou, K. (2014, 07 21). Piaget’s cognitive development.ppt 2. Confirm Client Developmental Status. Brisbane, Qld, Australia: Tafe Queensland.

Valerio, W. (2014, 07 28). The Alliance for Active Music Making. The Gordon Approach: Music Learning Theory, p. 01.

  1.   1998 – 2002 Bachelor Degree, Major in Fine Arts, Science and Culture University, Tehran, Iran

  2.   Ali Asghar Khan Zanganeh was an esteemed Iranian instrument maker and advocate of traditional Iranian music.(Born 1925 - Died 1997)

  3. Edwin E. Gordon, Research Professor at the University of South Carolina's Gordon Archive, is an influential researcher, teacher, author, editor, and lecturer in the field of music education. Through extensive research, Gordon has made major contributions to the study of music aptitudes, audiation, Music Learning Theory, rhythm in movement and music, and music development in infants and very young children.

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