Effecting change in the choral setting
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The acquisition and refinement of complex procedural skills require learners to make ongoing comparisons between what they intend to do and what actually happens, and to adjust their behavior according to those prediction-outcome comparisons. This feedback process is most effective when individuals experience a variety of outcomes because grappling with success and failure increases their ability to predict how their actions function toward goal achievement. The role of teachers in all domains is to effect change in the thinking and behavior of students in a way that engenders their eventual intellectual independence—students must learn how to learn as the things they grapple with become more complex. When students are still developing complex skills, the teacher’s role is often to provide accurate feedback regarding performance that focuses an individual’s attention towards creating advantageous prediction-outcome associations. In music teaching, conductors are working with groups of individuals in order to create cohesive ensemble outcomes—this adds additional complexity to the learning process because effecting change in the group requires conductors to shape the thinking and behavior of each ensemble member. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the fundamental principles of human learning in individual and group singing contexts. Literature that describes these principles is described in Chapter 1, with particular focus on the role of feedback in the prediction-outcome comparison process. The original research presented in Chapters 2, 3, and 4, were designed as separate inquiries to be published as three independent articles. Chapter 2 surveys choral music education research and summarizes what is currently known about the process of effecting change in choral ensemble performance. Chapter 3 describes how an expert choral conductor effected change throughout a concert rehearsal cycle. Chapter 4 examines the effects of teacher’s verbalizations on singers’ behavior and perceptions of their experiences using an experimental design. These studies are meant to inform our understanding of how change is effected in singing performance.