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Title:An investigation of the effectiveness of a piano course in playing by ear and aural skills development for college students
Author(s):Brown, Thomas Walker
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Peters, G. David
Department / Program:Music
Discipline:Music Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Music
Abstract:Despite the aural nature of music, many college music majors comprehend little of the music aurally which they study or perform. Theory instructors express frustration at music students' poor aural acuity, and students lament their inability to master aural skills.
Present modes of musical instruction continue to be visually dominated in an art that is fundamentally aural. The investigator contends that musicians are literate to the extent that they aurally comprehend musical notation and musical sound, and can respond in performance from both notated and imagined stimuli. Improvisation and playing by ear are natural constituents and reflections of musicality. Further, playing by ear is still considered by many to be purely endowed skill and unamenable to training.
This study reports the design and effectiveness of a course in aural skills development incorporating play-by-ear experiences. Undergraduate students voluntarily enrolled for a semester course taught three hours a week in a piano laboratory. Subproblems focused on the skills of melodic/harmonic dictation and melodic/harmonic playing by ear. Conceptual learning was included.
Students were immersed in one semester of aural instruction in which traditional approaches were enhanced by experimental instructional techniques. Traditional responses accompanied performance responses played by ear on the piano, and singing activities were included. Students also performed 25 popular and folk songs by ear.
Descriptive data were gathered regarding course definition, sequencing, and pacing. Unit tests, questionnaires, and an instructor's log were the basis for formative evaluation, assessment of student attitudes, and instructional revision. While many instructional activities proved effective, students found playing songs by ear to be the most meaningful course experience. Transcribing and playing isolated melodic patterns and chord progressions by ear were considered effective but less enjoyable by the class.
Posttest scores for each musical skill addressed were statistically significant beyond the.01 level. The mean probability level for all course skills was.0017, indicating dramatic improvement.
While small and homogeneous sampling precluded the application of rigorous statistical analysis, extensive descriptive data were generated in an area where little research has been done.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Brown, Thomas Walker
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9114185
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9114185

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