Academic journal article Contributions to Music Education

A Case Study of Adult Beginning Instrumental Practice

Academic journal article Contributions to Music Education

A Case Study of Adult Beginning Instrumental Practice

Article excerpt

The purpose of the current study was to describe the authentic practice behaviors of 3 adult beginning musicians. The 3 participants in this study were all male alto saxophonists in an adult beginning band. The saxophonists were provided with audiotape equipment for at-home practice over a 3-week period. Results of the study showed that the musicians demonstrated a high degree of dedication and cognitive skill in their practice. All 3 musicians spent a large amount of time on purposeful repetition as a rehearsal strategy. The greatest practice challenge for the participants appeared to be their less refined musical error feedback loop. Possible explanations and implications for teachers are addressed.

Research on practice behaviors has provided teachers with an initial insight into how, and how much, learners practice. There have been many interview-based studies (Gruson, 1988; Hallam, 1995a, 1995b, 2001b; McPherson, 2000/2001; Sloboda, Davidson, Howe, & Moore, 1996) and questionnaire-based studies (Barry & McArthur, 1994; Da Costa, 1999; Hamann & Frost, 2000; Kostka, 2002; Madsen, 2004; McCormick & McPherson, 2003; McPherson & McCormick, 1999; Rohwer, 2002) that have given baseline descriptive data on practicers. The concern with these studies has been that respondents may not be accurate or honest in their descriptions and estimates of practice, and hence, a call for authentic and contextual modes of research has been made; for, as was found in Hallam (2001a) subjects tended to self-report strategies that they did not execute in their taped practice session.

In light of this self-report concern, researchers have documented practice behaviors through audio and/or audiovisual means in order to more systematically describe practice time activities (Chaffin & Imreh, 1997; Hallam, 2001a; McPherson & Renwick, 2001; Miklaszewski, 1989; Nielsen 1999a, 1999b, 2001; Pitts, Davidson, & McPherson, 2000; Renwick & McPherson, 2002; Williamon & Valentine, 2000). Some of these studies have been able to document the musicians' practice in an authentic context and over an extended period of time (Chaffin & Imreh, 1997; Gruson, 1988; McPherson & Renwick, 2001; Nielsen, 1999a, 1999b, 2001; Pitts, Davidson, & McPherson, 2000; Renwick & McPherson, 2002).

Studies by McPherson and Renwick (2001), and Pitts, Davidson, and McPherson (2000), have provided in-depth qualitative descriptions of the activities of young novice musicians' practice behaviors. In both of these studies, young practicers commonly played straight through pieces with little self-correction, and with few practice strategies at their disposal. In contrast, in-depth qualitative descriptions of adult expert musicians' practice have documented high levels of organization, planning, and reflection in practice (Chaffin & Imreh, 1997; Nielsen, 1999a, 2001). Indeed, it is unclear whether expertise or age accounts for the different results in these studies.

Hence, age may be an important variable to investigate in relation to practice studies. The age of subjects in published practice studies has commonly been school age students (Barry, 1992; Da Costa, 1999; Hamann & Frost, 2000; Johnson, 1962; McPherson, 2000/2001; McPherson & McCormick, 1999; McPherson & Renwick, 2001; O'Neill, 1997; Pacey, 1993; Pitts, Davidson, & McPherson, 2000; Puopolo, 1971; Renwick & McPherson, 2002; Rohwer, 2002; Wagner, 1975; Welch, 1985; Zurcher, 1975), with some studies measuring college age music majors (Cassidy, Betts, & Hanberry; 2001; Geringer & Kostka, 1984; Jorgensen, 2002; Madsen & Geringer, 1981; Miklaszewski, 1989; Nielsen, 1999a, 1999b, 2001; Tollefson, 2000), or professional musicians (Chaffin & Imreh, 1997; Hallam, 1995a, 1995b). Those studies specifically targeting beginners have consistently measured young students (McPherson, 2000/2001; McPherson & Renwick, 2001; O'Neill, 1997; Pacey, 1993; Pitts, Davidson, & McPherson, 2000; Puopolo, 1971; Renwick & McPherson, 2002; Wagner, 1975; Zurcher, 1975). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.