Doctor of Philosophy
School of Education
Miller, Kristine Alexandra, Investigating student musicianship through conducting instruction, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, School of Education, University of Wollongong, 2013. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/3897
Conducting is regarded as a primary method of communication in a music ensemble. However, many ensemble conductors do not conduct with clarity, and many secondary school musicians do not understand conducting gestures. This, in turn, is causing a less musical and more mechanical performance from ensembles. To address this problem, this study designed a teaching resource aimed to develop student musicianship through conducting instruction.
First, a strong theoretical grounding was established using the Philosophy of Praxial music education. This philosophy provided the definition of musicianship used throughout this study and the strong practical basis of the teaching resource. After completion, the teaching resource was referred to a panel of experts and re-worked based on their evaluations, then implemented in a Year 8 classroom over two terms. Data was collected via pre- and post-test surveys and focus group interviews from the students, an interview from the teacher, and classroom and ensemble observations by the researcher.
Using the theoretical lens of the Philosophy of Praxial music education and supported by the New South Wales Board of Studies Year 7-10 Music syllabus, this study found that the conducting instruction did develop some aspects of students’ musicianship through their procedural knowledge. The concept of duration showed the greatest improvement, with expressive techniques also showing some development. The students demonstrated a modest increase in their knowledge of tone colour, texture and pitch, but this was generally illustrated through their classroom instruction and not conducting skills. While the Philosophy of Praxial music education advocates strongly that students learn better through ‘doing’, this study found that the participants were generally disinterested in conducting in front of the ensemble, but, rather, more interested in participating in classroom conducting that involved discussion and partner work.