Beating time: refining learned repertoire for percussion instruments in an Orff ensemble setting
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The purpose of this study was to examine the teaching practices of recognized Orff-Schulwerk instructors as they worked to refine learned repertoire for percussion instruments. Eight Orff-Schulwerk instructors and their upper elementary students were videotaped in four group rehearsals. Systematic analyses of rehearsal frames in which teachers were working to improve student performance revealed fast teacher pacing and a predominance of instructional directives that were procedural (e.g., where to begin playing) rather than musical (e.g., how to perform more accurately or expressively). Students performed successfully in only 29% of all performance trials, irrespective of the targets (proximal goals) identified by the teachers. The majority of students’ performance problems were related to precision, often caused by rushing the underlying pulse. In approximately half of the student performance trials, teachers identified targets prior to initiating student performance: targets were most often related to technique (e.g., how to hold mallets), rather than to the most salient problems of pulse and precision. Students successfully accomplished proximal goals in approximately 63% of the performance trials in which the targets were verbalized by the teacher prior to performance and in approximately 74% of the performance trials when the targets were verbalized by the teachers while the students were playing. Students were most successful when teachers utilized clear, explicit directives and positive modeling.