Research Gallery Abstracts 2013

Overview of Poster Session



“The Times, They Aren’t A-Changin’”

 By Michael Albertson

Teachers College, Columbia University

[email protected]

Mike Albertson     

     At the Tanglewood Symposium of 1967 there was a call for music educators to develop curriculum for diverse student populations. This historic declaration signaled an awareness of a rapidly changing populace and sought to place music at the core of American education (Abeles, 2010).  And now, for the first time in the history, non-whites account for a majority of births in the United States (Tavernise, 2012).  At the same time, the look of the U.S. teaching force has remained relatively unchanged; with 90% being white, a majority of students will graduate without ever having a teacher of color (Picower, 2012).

     This research focuses on undergraduate music teacher education programs in the State of New York.  An examination of the required coursework and audition requirements for these schools (n=23) revealed that none are breaking with the Western classical tradition that has served as the cornerstone for American music education.  In a state as diverse as New York it would seem imperative that our college education programs start reflecting the needs of our citizens.  With every music education student being required to focus on classical forms, they may be left underprepared to teach non-traditional styles in their own classrooms.  Additionally, the perpetuation of such study will do little to change the unbalanced ethnic makeup of educators in our country.  The high level of proficiency most of these schools expect students to enter with requires years of study, owning an instrument, and often finding a private teacher.  Students from low-income families and students who have experience performing musics with an aural tradition will continue to be marginalized from our institutions of higher education.



The Effect of Baton Use on Perceptions

of Choral Conductor and Ensemble Performance

By Sandra Babb, Queens College, City University of New York


Karen Lee Willie and Jessica Napoles, University of Utah

Sandra Babb


      The purpose of this study was to examine whether baton use affected participants’ perceptions of conducting and choral performance. The following research questions guided this study:

(1)   Is there a significant difference in ratings of expressivity, clarity, and musicality between choral conductors with and without a baton?

(2)   Does tempo (fast/slow) affect participants’ perceptions of conductor and ensemble performance with and without a baton?

            Participants (N = 176) were members of collegiate choirs in two large universities, 42 freshmen, 32 sophomores, 50 juniors, 44 seniors, and 8 graduate students. There were 100 females and 76 males, majoring in vocal performance (n = 49), music education (n = 59), other music (n = 26), other nonmusic (n = 31), and minoring in music (n = 12). One student did not classify gender or year in school. There were 63 participants (35.59%) who had taken at least one conducting class.

            A professional video and sound engineer was secured to video record two choral conductors (Caucasian male doctoral students in choral conducting) and sync these videos with pre-existing audio recordings. The conductors were asked to conduct the first musical idea (9-12 opening measures) of two pieces each, one fast and one slow, with and without a baton. The first conductor prepared Barber’s Sure on this Shining Night and Schumann’s Zigeunerleben, while the second conductor prepared Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus and Handel’s Let Their Celestial Concerts Unite.     

In order to accurately and specifically implement the baton use variable, conductors were instructed to incorporate the same cues, gestures, beat pattern size, and general expressive elements regardless of whether the baton was used.

            There were eight tracks total, four with baton and four without baton. We created four purposeful orders alternating conductors and fast/slow tempo excerpts: the first order included the four excerpts conducted with a baton followed by the same four excerpts conducted without a baton. In the second order, the four excerpts conducted without a baton appeared first. To control for order effect, the third order was an exact reverse order of the first, and the fourth order was a reverse order of the second.

            After participants were given the following instructions: “Please rate the following elements by circling one number below.” The four elements were tone quality of the choir, musicality of the choir, clarity of the conductor’s gestures, and expressiveness of the conductor. Responses were based on a 7-point Likert-type scale, with the anchors “poor” and “excellent.”


            Ratings were combined (added) across conductors and selections to create four categories per musical element: combined fast tempi with baton, combined slow tempi with baton, combined fast tempi with no baton, and combined slow tempi with no baton. A MANOVA was conducted with one between subjects variable (order) and two within subjects variables (tempo and baton use). Musicality, clarity, and expressiveness were the three variants. There was a significant interaction between baton and order, F (12, 450) = 3.92, p < .001, and between tempo and order, F (12, 450) = 3.88, p < .001. These interactions indicate that participants differed in their responses to baton use and tempo based on the order in which excerpts were presented. However, the effect sizes for these interactions were very small (partial h2 = .08 for both).

            There was a significant main effect for tempo, F (4, 170) = 32.29, p < 001, partial h2 = .43. All musical elements were rated higher in the fast tempo pieces (musicality M = 10.98, clarity M = 10.79, and expressiveness M = 9.55) than in the slow tempo pieces (musicality M = 10.18, clarity M = 9.42, and expressiveness M = 8.41), p < .001. There were no other significant main effects or interactions. Neither were there significant differences between responses of participants in the two universities.

            When combining orders and tempo, it can be seen that clarity and expressivity were rated slightly higher in excerpts with a baton (M clarity = 10.17, SD = 2.24, M expressivity = 9.11, SD = 2.19) compared to excerpts without a baton (M clarity = 10.03, SD = 2.30, M expressivity = 8.85, SD = 2.17). However, these differences were not statistically significant. Interestingly, mean ratings for musicality of the choir were exactly the same for excerpts conducted with and without a baton (M = 10.58, SD = 1.89).

Instrumental Music Educators’ Confidence in Teaching Improvisation

By H. Christian Bernhard II

State University of New York at Fredonia

[email protected]


         The purpose of this study was to survey instrumental music educators’ confidence in teaching improvisation, according to the NAfME K-12 Achievement Standards. Participants for the study were 204 instrumental music educators, selected randomly from the New York State School Music Association, who responded to the Survey of Confidence in Teaching Improvisation (SCTI).Descriptive data were computed for all SCTI responses, including means and standard deviations for combined K-4, 5-8, and 9-12 standards, by years of teaching experience, primary grade levels taught, and experience with jazz. Combined participants reported “moderate confidence” for teaching grade K-4 standards of improvisation, “slight” to “moderate confidence” for grade 5-8 standards, and “slight” to “moderate confidence” for teaching improvisation standards at the 9-12 grade levels. To determine differences among the three grade level standards, grade level means were submitted to analysis of variance with repeated measures. Statistically significant differences were found among the means for all three grade levels (p < .01). Thus, on average, participants’ confidence in teaching improvisation decreased as grade level of achievement standards increased. Participants reported “slight” to “moderate confidence” in their own ability to improvise, but “moderate” to “great interest” in learning more about how to teach improvisation.

Comparisons of confidence in teaching improvisation by years of teaching experience, primary grade levels taught, and experience with jazz were determined using a three-way multivariate analysis of variance, with teaching experience, grade levels, and jazz experience serving as independent variables, and achievement standard means for grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12 serving as dependent variables. Results of the MANOVA revealed statistically significant effects for primary grade levels taught, experience with jazz, and interactions (p < .05). Confidence increased by primary grade levels taught (elementary teachers least confident, high school teachers most confident) and by experience with jazz (participants with experience were more confident teaching improvisation than those without). No statistically significant differences were observed based on years of teaching experience (p > .05).

While combined participants reported some confidence in teaching improvisation, more support is needed for teaching upper-grade level achievement standards, for teaching non-jazz forms of improvisation, and for teachers whose primary responsibilities are at the elementary school level. However, participants reported interest in learning more, and further investigation, as well as curricular collaborations among P-16 instrumental, general, and choral music educators, will likely improve confidence in teaching improvisation, and thus the future of instrumental music education.


Music for Life: What Campfire Musicians Tell Us

By Caron Collins

State University of New York at Potsdam

Caron Collins


The purpose of this study was to improve music education in order to inspire life-long music making.  Narratives collected from eight adult amateur musicians uncovered reasons for continued music making after graduation from public schools. Interviews were conducted with random non-professional musician campers concerning their musical preferences, past experiences in their school music programs, and how these experiences influenced their current music making. From the information gathered in the interviews, an action plan was devised to improve music teacher preparation courses to include instruction for life-long music making.  Interview questions included:

  1. What type of music do you enjoy performing while camping?
  2. What other styles of music do you enjoy?
  3. What instruments do you play while camping?
  4. What additional instruments can you play?
  5. Do you like to sing?
  6. If yes, what songs and/or styles do you enjoy singing?
  7. Why do you perform music while camping?
  8. What is your musical background?
  9. Describe your music experiences in your Kindergarten to grade 12 schooling and how it contributed to your adult music making?

10. What musical experiences would you like today’s schools to offer?

Responses included many shared musical experiences and preferences in common, even though the eight participants differed in age and location.  Musical tastes varied slightly, with the most popular choices being gospel or contemporary Christian music (n=5), followed by folk and rock music.  All participants enjoyed singing and played a least one instrument (guitar, flute, piano, harmonica, trumpet, organ, trumpet, trombone, piccolo, percussion, handbells) with five participants able to play multiple instruments.  The obvious primary reason stated for performing music while camping was for personal and family enjoyment. Their responses to items 8, 9, and 10 provided the most valuable information for improving current music education programs.  While all stated they participated in school music classes, choirs or instrumental ensembles, their experiences were not always positive.  Three participants described negative experiences with music teachers who refused private instruction, strongly criticized or prohibited student participation, and was ill prepared or ineffective.  Positive experiences included personal, meaningful connections with specific repertoire and joyful memories in rehearsals.  All eight participants highly recommended that today’s school music programs provide students with more opportunities for personalized musical exploration.  They would like to see more individualized instruction where students are free to immerse themselves in all musical styles and genres, without pressure to conform and commit to a rigorous ensemble performance schedule.

An action plan was designed to include instruction to promote life-long musical experiences.  Current and future music educators should provide alternative musical offerings that are congruent to personal adult music-making including:  (1) individualized instruction; (2) exploration of contemporary music repertoire; (3) comprehensive approaches to cultivate a deeper understanding and emotional connection to a variety of music genres; and (4) removing the pressure to commit full-time to a performing ensemble.  Further research will be conducted with additional interviews expanded to include a wider variety of casual adult musicians.

Music Making on the Outside: Lessons Learned

By Radio Cremata

Ithaca College

[email protected]



            This poster presents research on lessons learned from various flash study profile analyses on musicians and their learning experiences falling outside the traditional confines of institutional or compulsory schooling. Participation in school music education in the US is declining and engagement with traditional band, orchestral and choral music beyond high school is at an historic low (National Endowment for the Arts, 2011), with ‘professional’ music being left to an often-supposed mysterious elite group of romanticized ‘others’ who somehow ‘have it’ while the rest of us do not. This seems counterintuitive in a world where access to live and especially recorded music is at an all-time high; there has never been as much music available to as many people at so little cost.

            It is as though school music education exists in its own detached bubble, safe from the concerns of the real people whose lives and values it briefly engages or forever ignores in its blinkered pursuit of its own self-perpetuation. There is thus a tangible and increasing yearning in corners of the music education community for a reflexive refreshment and re-invigoration of the profession, to address and bring meaning through music to all young people through the powerful means of the education system – not ‘just’ so that people enjoy better musical lives, but so that overall life and happiness might improve (Wright, 2012).
            Our peers and colleagues in music and in music education (all too rarely, we find, do the fields coincide, except but fleetingly) lead exciting, dynamic lives in the art and craft of music. They excel at, live lives in, and profit (emotionally, socially, and financially) from experiences that are excluded from the mainstream discourse in music education.

            The goal then of lessons learned is to capture insights into the worlds and practices of music learning in diverse contexts. Many of these insights will resonate with educators, students and parents who enjoy and engage in musics outside the legitimated confines of music education; others may seem more novel to different groups of readers. We are determined that these and other examples of lived music and music learning experiences should not be ignored, but should be available for the benefit of our students and our children.

Comparative Audiation Difficulty of Tonal, Rhythm, and Melodic Patterns

Among Grade 4 Students

Alan P. Danahy

Department of Defense Education Activity/University of South Carolina

[email protected]

alan d

            With the intent of improving music educators’ understanding of students’ audiation processes, the purpose of this research was to investigate the audiation difficulty of melodic patterns. The specific research problems were to: (a) examine the relationships between the audiation difficulty of melodic patterns compared to the audiation difficulty of their embedded tonal patterns and rhythm patterns, (b) determine if tonal pattern difficulty and/or rhythm pattern difficulty may be used to predict melodic pattern difficulty, (c) examine the mean differences between the audiation difficulty of melodic patterns compared to the audiation difficulty of their embedded tonal patterns and rhythm patterns, and (d) examine the mean differences between the audiation difficulty of 3:3, 4:4, and 5:5 proportioned melodic patterns.

Grade 4 students (N = 58) at a public elementary school in New York State participated in this study. Students were administered three versions of the Melodic Pattern Audiation Test (MPAT) (Danahy, 2013), a researcher-developed assessment similar to the Primary Measures of Music Audiation (Gordon, 1979); a developmental music aptitude test comprised of tonal patterns and rhythm patterns. Melodic patterns used in MPAT were composed by the researcher by combining tonal patterns and rhythm patterns used in previous research studies by Gordon (1974, 1976, 1978).

MPAT-A was administered to students (n = 57) and included 3:3 and 4:4 proportioned melodic patterns in major tonality, duple and triple meters. MPAT-B was administered to students (n = 54) and included 3:3 and 4:4 proportioned melodic patterns in minor tonality, duple and triple meters. MPAT-C was administered to all student participants (N = 58) and included 5:5 proportioned melodic patterns in various tonalities and meters. The researcher scored the student answer documents and quantitatively analyzed 6,790 item responses.

(a) The audiation difficulty of melodic patterns was weakly correlated to the audiation difficulty of their embedded tonal patterns [r = –.28, n = 60, p = .029] and rhythm patterns [r = .36, n = 60, p = .005].

(b) Therefore, tonal pattern difficulty and/or rhythm pattern difficulty cannot be used to accurately predict melodic pattern difficulty. With respect to music instructional contexts, music educators should not attempt to arrange or sequence melodic patterns based on the audition difficulty of their embedded tonal patterns and rhythm patterns.

(c) The researcher conducted a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and found a statistically significant difference with respect to the mean item difficulty coefficients among melodic, tonal, and rhythm patterns [F(2, 177) = 103.49, p < .001]. Grade 4 students were able to audiate proportioned melodic patterns (M = .81, [CI95 = .79, .84], SD = .11) more easily than tonal patterns (M = .73, [CI95 = .70, .75], SD = .08) and rhythm patterns (M = .55, [CI95 = .53, .58], SD = .11). Based on this information, it may be possible that grade 4 students and presumably other students in the stabilized music aptitude phase could learn to perform melodic patterns more easily than tonal and rhythm patterns.  

(d) With respect to the audiation difficulty of 3:3, 4:4, and 5:5 proportioned melodic patterns, the researcher conducted a one-way ANOVA and did not find a statistically significant difference among the mean item difficulty coefficients of melodic patterns [F(2, 57) = .475, p = .624]. The complexity of a proportioned melodic pattern, with respect to the number of pitches and rhythmic durations embedded within the pattern, did not affect its audiation difficulty.  

Children’s Aural and Kinesthetic Understanding of Rhythm:

Developing an Instructional Model

By Adam D. Foley 

Eastman School of Music

 [email protected]


unknown Guy 


        The purpose of this study was to develop a deeper understanding of aural and kinesthetic rhythm skill development in elementary school-age children. In this study, I examined my curriculum model for rhythm understanding, which included creating and implementing assessments of movement skills in meter and rhythm. The research questions were:

  1. What are the fundamental elements of instruction for development of aural and kinesthetic rhythm understanding in elementary school-age children?
  2. What are the assessment tools needed to measure the development of aural and kinesthetic rhythm understanding in elementary school-age children? and
  3. What relationships, if any, exist among meter-movement skills, rhythm-movement skills, rhythm aptitude, and reading accuracy?

Sixty-one subjects from four intact third-grade classes in a suburban school district participated in this study. All participants received 20-25 minutes of whole-body meter, expressive, and rhythm-movement instruction for a period of approximately 32 weeks. Students also received instruction in audiation and rhythm literacy through repertoire and audiation-based rhythm pattern activities. The research framework most closely resembled Creswell and Plano Clark’s (2007) concurrent embedded mixed method design. I gathered data from field notes and video recordings, and carefully constructed measurement tools to assess meter- and rhythm-movement skills in duple and triple along with rhythm reading accuracy in both duple and triple. I also administered the rhythm portion of a standardized test of developmental aptitude.

Based on analysis of data gathered in this study, I concluded that third-grade students can develop whole-body meter-movement, meter discrimination, fundamental rhythm movement, and rhythm reading skills in duple and triple. Analysis also revealed that assessment procedures and rating scales used in this study are appropriate tools for measuring student achievement and that meter- and rhythm-movement skills and rhythm reading skills are significantly related (p ≤ .05). I offer recommendations for rhythm movement, meter movement, rhythm reading, assessment procedures, and meter discrimination. The data I present in this study provide evidence to support my model for developing rhythm understanding, including instruction, embedded assessment, and student progress.

The Tuba: A Survey of College Tuba Teachers and High School Band Directors

By Jason S. Ladd

Marquette University

[email protected]

Jason Ladd

            This study is a collection of information gathered through surveys of college tuba teachers and high school band directors. The purpose of this study is to determine what are the weaknesses of high school tuba players, what method books and pieces are recommended by college tuba teachers for those interested in majoring in music in college as well as what tuba recordings are recommended. In the previous version of this study (2001) the tuba teachers (n=85) felt Suite for Tuba by Don Haddad was the most important piece for a prospective music major to know. The three most recommended etude books were by Arban, Blazevich, and Bordogni. Areas which were weaknesses for high school tuba players included rhythm and breathing.

            There are two reasons for the replication of this study. The first is to attain a higher number of respondents. The first study only looked at high school band directors from Onondaga County, NY. This survey will go out next month to a larger number of band directors from various states in order to get a larger pool of respondents. The second reason for the replication of the study is to see what changes have gone on in tuba teaching. As compared to other instruments, the tuba is much younger having been invented in 1835. The first serious pieces for tuba were composed in 1954 by Vaughan Williams and Hindemith and in 1960 Rex Conner became the first full-time university tuba professor. Since that time there has been a huge evolution in solo tuba repertoire and performance ability by tubists.

“We Like to Move It, Move It!”:

When kids ask for popular music in the elementary music classroom

By Judith Lewis

Teachers College, Columbia University

[email protected]

Judith Lewis

            The inclusion of popular music in the middle and high school music curriculum has been explored and discussed for more than forty years. Important issues such as the gap between in-school and out-of-school music engagement (Campbell, 2007; Boal-Palheiros and Hargreaves, 2001; Stalhammar, 2000) and the unique music-making processes inherent to the popular music genre (Westerlund, 2006; Green, 2006, 2001; Allsup 2003; Lilliestam, 1996; Campbell, 1995; Finnegan, 1989) have been central to these discussions. However, little research to date has been done addressing the inclusion of popular music in the elementary school music curriculum.

            This paper presents initial findings of a two month research study conducted with second grade general music students in an elementary school in New York City. The study was designed to investigate how young children create meaning through engagements with popular music and how such engagements might inform music educators in regard to popular music and the elementary music classroom. Rooted in ideals of a student-centered, democratic pedagogy, the study included active involvement on the part of the students in the planning and presentation of the learning modules. In addition to student presentations, each lesson included group discussions on issues generated by students in response to the song(s) heard. Initial findings suggest that young children are aware of and can articulate a variety of musical concepts present in popular songs. Findings also suggest that young children possess the critical thinking abilities to generate thoughtful opinions regarding the messages and meanings of popular songs.


Preservice Teachers Experiences Using iPads

To Engage Students in Creating and Performing

By Jill Reese

State University of New York at Fredonia

[email protected]

Student Researchers from Fredonia

Fredonia students

The number of people using technology to create and perform music is rising (Gouzouasis & Bakan, 2013).  Similarly, standards for teacher preparation and student instruction have begun to emphasize technology use (International Society for Technology in Education, 2013), and the number of technology-based music classes is increasing (Abril & Gault, 2008; Dammers, 2009, 2012; Reese & Rimington, 2000).  Music teachers who integrate technology can shift focus onto creating, and improve students’ motivation and independence (Byrne & McDonald, 2002).  Teachers who do not integrate technology risk “failing to keep pace with the modes that musicking can take for many students and citizens and, thus…failing to meet their needs” (Regelski, 2013, p. 229-230).  Though music teachers use technology primarily for administrative purposes (Reese & Rimington, 2000), the number using technology for music notation and computer-assisted instruction is increasing (Dorfman, 2010).  It is less common for teachers to use technology to perform and create (Dorfman, 2010; Reese& Rimington, 2000).

When music teachers receive technology-focused professional development, they report increased knowledge of and comfort with technology, and include technology in their classrooms more often (Bauer, 2013; Bauer, Reese, & McCallister, 2003).  Most report receiving technology training during in-services, conferences, and through personal exploration; few report undergraduate coursework contributing to knowledge of technology integration (Bauer, 2013; Doorfman, 2010).  Some researchers suggest including technology pedagogy might be most appropriate at the preservice level (Russell Bebell, O’Dwyer, & O’Connor, 2003; Strickland, Salzman, & Harris, 2000).  Though considered technological natives (Prensky, 2001), current preservice teachers report having few experiences using iPad technology and struggle to make curricular connections when using technology in the classroom (Crichton, 2012).

The purpose of this in-progress study is to investigate perceptions of preservice music teachers participating in field-teaching experiences during which they will use iPads to facilitate performing and creating.  They will complete a survey (before and after field-teaching experiences) measuring perceptions of abilities to use technology to perform and create music, abilities to use technology to teach students to perform and create music, and beliefs about using technology to engage students in performing and creating music in general music classes.  During field-teaching, they will create and teach lessons for which they use iPads to engage elementary or secondary general music students in creating and performing.  After each lesson, they will record video blogs reflecting on their experiences.  Survey data will be quantitatively analyzed; video blog recordings will be qualitatively analyzed. 


Role of Cultural Context in Irish Children’s Original Music Composition

By Patricia Riley
University of Vermont

[email protected]

 Patti Riley

            The purpose of this research was to examine Irish children’s original music composition through the lens of cultural context with the intent of providing a new layer of understanding about teaching music composition. The role of cultural context was determined through post-composition conversations between the researcher and children, and through comparisons between the compositions and characteristics of traditional Irish music. Participants (N = 12) were ten-year-old to twelve-year-old children enrolled at the Loretta College Junior School in Dublin, Ireland. The research took place in April of 2012 during five 90-minute sessions.    Prior to composing, the children explored the instruments to be used, and the musical elements of pitch, duration, tempo, dynamics, articulation, and timbre. Musical instruments included researcher-provided Orff xylophones, glockenspiels, woodblocks, maracas, egg shakers, and tambourines; and a metallophone, hand drum, guiro, and African shaker. Data were videotaped interviews during which the children performed and discussed their compositions and cultural context, the children’s non-traditional notation papers, and their notated compositions transcribed from the performances.

            Interview questions included: What is your musical background? What kinds of things were you thinking about as you composed? What musics do you like to listen to? How is your music composition similar or different from these musics? Data were analyzed using a content analysis. Findings included similarities and differences between the children’s compositions and the music of their culture, as well as shared compositional tendencies.

Teaching Elementary General Music in Urban Schools: Challenges and Rewards

By Janice Smith

Queens College City University of New York

[email protected]

Janice Smith

            The purpose of this research is to look for common themes in the experiences of young urban general music teachers. The research questions are: 1) what challenges do general music teachers with less than five years of teaching experience face; and 2) what solutions to these problems have they found. While some research exists on the problems of urban educators, very little has been focused on the unique issues faces by urban general music teachers.

            This study is excerpted from eleven exploratory case studies of young urban music teachers. All are currently teaching general music in a large urban metropolitan area. Data is collected via email reflections done as the occasion arises and through face to face interviews once each semester.  The interviews are transcribed and both the interviews and emails are coded for common themes. Only the views of the teachers themselves are included. The opinions of other stakeholders in urban education have not been sought. 

            The primary challenges these teachers have encountered are: 1) scheduling, including the scheduling of students in the program; suggested solutions are to become involved in the scheduling process and to work toward solutions over time; 2) procurement of materials; suggested solutions include grant writing;   3) administrative and community performance expectations; suggested solutions include attempting to schedule all performances before the start of the school year (in the preceding spring, if possible) and finding polite ways to decline to perform when it is educationally unsound to do so;   and 4) fund-raising; suggested solutions include grant writing,  charging for concert admission, and charging a repair/ participation fee; 5) Lack of professional respect for music teachers as part of the school community; takes time and building relationships; does not always evolve as one might wish.  

            This research is exploratory in nature and provides a basis for future studies. The findings should be approached with caution as they may not be applicable in other urban settings or for music classes other than those whose teachers are involved in this study. However, the emergence of common themes in the transcripts and emails is quite clear and suggests the necessity for further study. It is quite clear that some urban administrators seem unaware of the support systems needed to maintain a program in terms of equipment, scheduling and budget. It is also clear that the teachers involved in this study do not view the students, their parents, cultural diversity or native language among the most serious challenges they face.  On the contrary, they are quite insistent that it is precisely those qualities that help them stay in urban teaching.


            Teaching Anxiety in Preservice Music Teachers

By Martina Vasil

West Virginia University

[email protected]

Martina Vasil

            The purpose of this study was to review the literature on teaching anxiety in pre-service music teachers. Little has been written about anxiety in music teaching, but commonalities appear in the literature on anxiety across four fields—education, music performance, sports performance, and dance performance. I drew upon the literature in these fields to offer ideas and implications for music teaching anxiety.

Anxiety is a complex condition with genetic, cultural, emotional, mental, and physical dimensions (Garza & Ford, 2009; Lorentzen, 1980). The two main types of anxiety are state and trait. State anxiety occurs in the moment and is dependent upon the context (Lorentzen, 1980; Martens, 1977; Wilson, 2012). It is a transitory, emotional state of apprehension and tension (Spielberger, Gorusch, & Lushene, 1970). Trait anxiety is tied to genetics and personality traits. Some people have a predisposition to anxiety and are unable (or find it difficult) to disengage from stimuli that appear threatening (Lehmann, Sloboda, & Woody, 2007; Lorentzen, 1980; Spielberger, Gorusch, & Lushene, 1970; Wilson, 2012).

Both internal (physiological, cognitive, and behavioral) and external (situational and task-related) factors impact the intensity of state and trait anxiety. There are many coping strategies that pre-service music teachers can adopt to handle these factors in order to reduce anxiety. Relaxation techniques, biofeedback training, and beta-blockers can help relieve physical symptoms. Cognitive restructuring and goal setting can help alleviate mental symptoms. Teaching more often with improved techniques can correct problematic behavioral patterns (e.g., nervous pacing or talking too fast). Situational factors may be handled through mental rehearsal or practice in the space. Finding the balance between the challenge of the teaching task and one’s own music teaching skills can reduce task-related anxiety. Finally, striking a balance between work and play while enrolled in the music education program can reduce anxious feelings (Lehmann, Sloboda, & Woody, 2007).

In sum, cognitive factors may have the greatest affect on teaching anxiety in preservice music teachers. The most effective cognitive coping strategies are (1) accept that a small level of anxiety is normal in music teaching, (2) focus on the process of teaching music (not just the final performance), and (3) engage in self-talk and task-oriented thoughts (Lehmann, Sloboda, & Woody, 2007). Understanding how anxiety affects pre-service music teachers and how symptoms can be alleviated may help music teacher educators improve course instruction and better prepare students for successful music teaching careers.