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Angela Yarnell MEMT 898 Daugherty October 1, 2009 Research Analysis

Angela Yarnell MEMT 898 Daugherty October 1, 2009 Research Analysis

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Angela YarnellMEMT 898DaughertyOctober 1, 2009Research Analysis 1Duke, R. (2009). It's not how much; it’s how - characteristics of practice behavior and retentionof performance skills.
 Journal of Research in Music Education,
Vol. 56 (4), p. 310-321.Purpose of the study: The purpose of this study was to discover if practice quality and strategiesemployed by advanced pianists could predict the quality of their performances of a challengingexcerpt 24 hours later. Researchers also describe the practice strategies of the top performers inthe sample.Research questions posed:
What are the practice behaviors of advanced pianists who learn new material efficiently?
Is the total amount of practice time, number of total practice trials, or number of completepractice trials predictive of performance success?Primary methodology of this study: qualitativeFor qualitative studies, list the specific qualitative approaches used: grounded theoryMethodology Summary:Advanced pianists at a university’s school of music were asked to practice a 3-measure excerptfor as little or as long as necessary prior to a performance of the excerpt at a prescribed tempothe next day. Participants were videotaped during the practice and performance sessions. MIDIdata from the keyboard on which they played was collected for analysis.Video recordings were viewed to collect the following numerical data: total practice time,number of performance trials, number of complete performance trials, number of correctperformance trials, number of near-correct performance trials, the sum of correct and near-correct performance trials, number of incorrect performance trials, the percentage of completetrials that were correct, the percentage of complete trials that were correct and near-correct, andthe percentage of all trials that were correct.Videos were viewed again and detailed accounts of practice behaviors were notated.Using the audio recording only, performances were put in rank order based on tone, character,and expressiveness. The top three pianists on 15 trials were identified and their practice videoswere then analyzed first. The behaviors of these top three performers were clearly different fromthe 14 lower-ranked performers. The strategies used by the performers were listed by apparenteffectiveness.Conclusions:For these performers under these conditions, practice strategies employed were moredeterminative of success in performance than the total time or number of performance trials. Thebest performing pianists took no less time to learn the excerpt. The top performers went aboutlearning the passage in a different way than the lower-ranked pianists. The high-ranked
performers shared specific behaviors in practice: errors were immediately isolated, corrected,and put back into context and tempi were varied systematically and logically. The topperformers had just as many errors at the beginning of practice as the others, but their handlingof the errors when they occurred was different.Recommendations for future research:Identify good models for effective practice and further investigate the practice behaviors of effective learners at all levels.Evaluation/assessment of this research study:The present study makes an important contribution to the knowledge of advanced pianistspractice strategies
and provides much insight into the learning process of this group of performers. The author makes great use of the learned information by communicating manygeneralization possibilities and uses of this research. The study had a unique design and foundan interesting set of information in a short amount of time.Generalization/transfer possibilities:Solo practice and performance is very different from group rehearsal and performance for manyvalid reasons, but in this area of discovery, the decisions made by effective soloists can provideinsight for ensemble directors and perhaps provide a model for teaching students to be moreindependent and thoughtful learners.Playing with both hands together and with inflection early in practice were two of the hallmarksof top performers in the present study. Perhaps it would be beneficial then for choral students topractice with the voice parts together early in the learning process as well. I have alwaysremembered Dr. Duke’s presentation at KCOMPTEP over a decade ago when he stressed to ourpre-service teacher group that we must find ways to ‘get to the good stuff’ early on in musicstudy, both in terms of beginners, and in each new piece in later studies. This study seems tosupport this opinion that inflection and expression in music needs to happen early on in therehearsal of new music if it is to be fully realized in the performance. This study does notaddress how rewarding it is to integrate expressiveness early in rehearsal, but it mightcorroborate Dr. Duke’s impassioned speech on its effectiveness in creating thoughtfulperformers.In this study, the best performers stopped before a possible error rather than play it incorrectly,and actual errors were immediately and systematically corrected. If choir online learningmodules are used as tools for practice outside of rehearsal, are they effective if students cannotcorrectly prevent errors or at least detect and correct errors in private practice? If students candetect and quickly correct errors, private practice may be useful. If students practice incorrectly,are they doing more harm than good as they repeat and memorize errors? For group practice it isobvious that we find and eliminate errors quickly, but even more important that we teach ourstudents how to anticipate errors and self-evaluate so they might become more efficient atpractice outside of rehearsal. Clearly we as directors cannot allow autopilot or run-throughs asthese poor repetitions may be retained in some way and be detected in the final product.Identification and targeted practice of short but difficult passages was shown effective in thisstudy, just as we are encouraged as directors to address some issues under intense magnificationbefore returning the passage to the surrounding musical context. One of the top pianist’sbehaviors with varying tempi could prove highly useful. When the target passage is put backinto context, it may be helpful to employ unmarked
; as a possible error point approaches,

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