An action research study of effective and efficient rehearsals in a grade 8 band setting

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Ferley, Maureen L. P.
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The purpose of this action research study was to examine strategies that lead to effective and efficient band rehearsals at the junior high level. Participants in the study were 28 grade 8 band students, 11 males and 17 females, as well as one music teacher researcher. Of 35 grade 8 band students, 28 or 80% chose to participate in the study. The school is located in a relatively high social-economic suburban junior high school. The research questions addressed were: 1. What proportion of instructional time do I spend on: teaching musical concepts and skills; conducting active music making; classroom management; waiting or wasting time? 2. How can I change my rehearsal practice to spend more time engaging students in active musical learning, and less time on non-musical tasks, thus improving the effectiveness and efficiency of my middle years band rehearsals? 3. How do students perceive and respond to their band rehearsals? During a 10-week block, from January to March, 2006, specific teaching innovations, drawn from the research and pedagogical literatures, were implemented with an aim to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the band class. Music classes were video taped and later analyzed using rehearsal frames. Students responded to the instructional innovations by completing exit slips daily and attitudinal surveys at the beginning and completion of the research project. The teacher tracked her perceptions through daily journal entries and reflecting on the classes videotaped. Qualitative data were unitized and then sorted by thematic codes while quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Pre- and Post-survey mean scores were calculated and compared using T-tests. The following conclusions were drawn: 1) The majority of class time was spent in active music making followed by “waiting” and “instruction” time; 2) The innovations introduced were effective and improved the efficiency of the band classes; 3) Students strongly agreed that they were involved during band rehearsals conducted throughout the project; and 4) The overwhelming majority of students responded positively to all survey items related to band rehearsals.
band, action research, junior high, music, education