Teaching improvisation within the general music methods course: university teacher experiences, approaches, and perspectives

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the teaching of improvisation in general music methods courses for music education majors. Subjects (N = 45) were university general music methods course teachers who participated in the Mountain Lake Colloquium for Teachers of General Music Methods on May 15-18, 2011, in Mountain Lake, Virginia. A researcher-designed questionnaire was used to collect information on instructor experiences, approaches, and perspectives relating to the teaching of improvisation in general music methods courses. Results showed that instructors were diverse in age and in educational degrees held. Almost all (96%) of participants agreed that improvisation skills should be taught in the university general music methods course. The majority (93%) of instructors reported that they currently address improvisation in a general music classroom. Half of those that provided improvisation instruction spend 10% of a typical semester’s class time on ! it. The majority (69%) held specialized certifications, the most popular being Orff Schulwerk. The Orff approach, followed by Dalcroze and Kodály methods, respectively, were used frequently when teaching improvisation in university classrooms. Strategies favored included modeling (71%), group improvisation (67%), and the use of Orff instruments (62%). Emphasis was placed on performance-based assessment, with peer-teaching (81%) and class improvisation sessions (73%) the most popular. Almost all (96%) had experience teaching general music in K-12 grade school settings, and in elementary schools in particular. Elementary K-4 national standards for improvisation were also addressed consistently in university class meetings. While only 40% of the instructors had formally studied improvisation, over 88% were interested in learning more about teaching improvisation. Although 71% of participants believed that others who play their primary instrument improvised better, and th! at others had more talent for improvisation (56%), these indiv! iduals s till felt confident in their ability to teach teachers how to address improvisation (89%), to teach others improvisation (73%), and to become proficient in improvisation (73%). They also enjoyed the challenge of improvisation (59%). Those with higher teaching self-efficacy were also more likely to have formal training in improvisation, and use group improvisation and modeling as teaching strategies. Those with higher composite self-efficacy were more likely to use group improvisation as a teaching strategy.



improvisation, teaching improvisation, general music, general music methods, general music methods course, university music education teacher



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