Academic journal article European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences, The

Study of the Potential of Playback Orchestra Computer Assisted Teaching Method

Academic journal article European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences, The

Study of the Potential of Playback Orchestra Computer Assisted Teaching Method

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Learning orchestra-playing skills is an important part of a violin student's music education, because string instruments are essential to orchestras. In addition, to read music scores fluently, the player should follow the conductor, listen to others and, if he or she is the first violinist of a chamber music group, conduct others by playing. In other words, communication skills are needed as well.

According to research on Finnish orchestra students (Vartiainen 1995), their attitudes towards playing together, orchestra conductors and the orchestra music itself are positive. Students meet their orchestra peers willingly and they say that they do not find their public performances as stressful as their solo performances. The students denote that in orchestra rehearsals they learn to listen to each other and improve their social interactions. Furthermore, they improve in reading music scores, keeping the pulse, generating nuances, and perceiving the larger picture of a pie ce of music. But only half of the students practised their scores at home. Perhaps playing printed scores without knowing much about the larger picture of the music is not motivating. That is why Juntunen (2011) created a home practice method, Playback Orchestra, which resembles an orchestra rehearsal situation; she has found it to be successful in orchestra teaching.

Orchestra skills develop in orchestra rehearsals in a natural way. Unfortunately, the music schools cannot afford orchestra teaching more than once a week at most. The students are left unsupervised in their home practice, and may be unmotivated to practice with their paper scores of second or third violin scores. They do not have a "big picture" of the music.

To support orchestra students` home practice, Juntunen et al. (2011) have developed the Playback Orchestra (PO) teaching method: the students practise their orchestra parts along with the playback of the full score of the music. Thus, they hear the entire orchestra while playing their own parts. They can have orchestra rehearsals in their own rooms as often as they wish.

According to Juntunen et al. (2011), for the youngest students, especially, it is important that the music they practise is appropriate, not too easy or difficult, nice and imaginative. Therefore, Juntunen (2011) has arranged and composed "tailor-made" pieces for her orchestras. Some of the pieces are orchestra etudes aimed at developing bowing technique, dynamics, articulation, and communication. Because notation programmes write the scores, the playback can be listened to immediately and the score corrected if there is something wrong. The digital files can be shared via the Internet and sent by email to the students to be printed, listened to, and played along with the playback. That is, they practise by the Playback Orchestra method at home.

The PO method is free and easy to use at home. Playing along with the playback gives the student the feeling of playing in an orchestra with peers. The player corrects mistakes while playing, because the playback gives the reference standard, a model of the correct performance for comparison. The student does not feel this feedback as negative because it is self-generated and occurs immediately. It is important that the student feels good in the learning situation, because that feeling can generate success in future musical encounters (Graham & Weiner, 1996, 71-72). In a PO practice situation, a music student operates in open and emotionally safe conditions, without having to be afraid of the demolishing effects or criticism (see Sava, 1993, 29).

In the PO method, the student can practise the difficult sections repeatedly at a tempo that is suitable for his or her competencies. The main advantage of the notation programme playback over Play along CDs and other recorded media is that the tempo can be adjusted to the skills of the player, first slow, then faster. Additionally, the playback of a new composition is available immediately without any recording processes. …

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