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a group of graduate and undergraduate piano majors and how they structured their practice time.5


Tey conclud-


ed, “Te results show that the strategies employed during practice were more determinative of performance quality at retention than was how much or how long the pianists practiced, a finding consistent with the results of related research.” Te top three performers in this study all shared three characteristics, while none of the others showed all three. Tey were: 1. Te precise location and source of each error was identified accurately, rehearsed, and corrected.


2. Tempo of individual performance trials was varied systematically; logically understandable changers in tempo occurred between trials.


3. Target passages were repeated until the error was correct and the passage was stabilized, as evidenced by the error’s absence in subsequent trials.


Miksza arrives at a similar conclusion in his 2006 study.6 He


writes, “Furthermore, the duration of time spent playing was not found to be significantly related to performance scores, suggesting that perhaps the type of activities the subjects participated in during the experimental session was more important than how much they actually played during the practice session.” Many teachers use time-based practice records in assessment, but perhaps students can be better assessed on their activity rather than clock minutes, similar to the way an algebra teacher assigns a number of problems for homework, not a number of minutes.


Finally, deliberate practice is structured. Students must learn to self-regulate in order to practice deliberately. According to Zimmerman, self-regulation is present when students are “meta-cognitively, motivationally, and behav- iorally active participants in their own learning process.”7 Students must learn to set goals for their practice session, plan appropriate strategies to achieve those goals, carry out the plan, and evaluate the results. Students also need the ability to be flexible within the plan and apply various strategies to musical problems until they are solved. Miksza writes “Subjects in the low impulsive group made signifi- cantly greater gains in performance achievement than those in the high impulsive group.”8


A portion of self-regulation is planning and executing strat- egies to solve musical problems. Tese are the tools that every musician must have to learn to perform their music. Tis can include tempo, rhythm, or articulation alterations, wind patterns, singing, or any number of activities that allow the passage to be mastered. Teachers should take op- portunities in rehearsal to model effective practice strategies and make sure that students know how to use the strategy correctly. Once a strategy is learned, the teacher can help the students to see other passages where that tool might be


effective. Te more differentiated ways that a student learns to practice, the more independent they can become, and if creating independent musicians is one of the goals, then the teaching of effective practice skills must be addressed in an organized, systematic way.


Students are confronted by musical problems every day in rehearsal and during practice sessions. Teaching them how to solve those problems on their own will create the type of independent musician that will hopefully be engaged in life- long music making. To be effective in the practice room, students must be deliberate about their practice. Tey must effectively use models, understand how to structure their time, and be able to self-regulate during their practice ses- sion. Of course, a healthy amount of grit helps out as well. As psychologist Angela Duckworth said in a TED Talk, “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”


1Kostka, Marilyn J. “Practice Expectations and Attitudes: A Survey of College-Level Music Teachers and Students.” Journal of Re-


search in Music Education 50, no. 2 (2002): 145-155. 2


Ericsonn, K. Anders and Andreas C. Lehmann. “Expertise.” In Encyclopedia of Creativity, 695-707. Edited by Mark Runco and


Steven Pitzker. New York, NY: Academic Press, 1999. 3


Education Research 3, no. 2 (2001): 169-186. 4


tion 49, no. 4 (2001): 307-323. 5


no. 4 (2009): 310-321. 6


McPherson, Gary E. and James M. Renwick. “A Longitudinal Study of Self-Regulation in Children’s Musical Practice.” Music


Hewitt, Michael P. “Te Effects of Modeling, Self-Evaluation, and


Self-Listening on Junior High Instrumentalists’ Music Perfor- mance and Practice Attitude.” Journal of Research in Music Educa-


Duke, Robert A., Amy L. Simmons, and Carla Davis. “It’s Not How Much; It’s How.” Journal of Research in Music Education 56,


Miksza, Peter. “Relationships Among Impulsiveness, Locus of Control, Sex, and Music Practice.” Journal of Research in Music


Education 54, no. 4 (2006): 308-323. 7


Psychology 11 (1986): 307-313. 8


Zimmerman, Barry J.. “Becoming a Self-regulated Learner: Which are the Key Subprocesses?” Contemporary Educational


Miksza, “Relationships Among Impulsiveness, Locus of Control, Sex, and Music Practice.”


Dr. Norman Wika currently serves as the Director of Bands at Saginaw Valley State University, where he directs the Cardi- nal Marching Band and conducts the Wind Ensemble and Concert Band. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Con- ducting and a Master of Music in Music Education from the University of Connecticut, and a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Miami.


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