Methods Used by Band Directors to Develop Tonal and Rhythmic Audiation Skills

November 5, 2009 / By: Jennifer VanReese

The problem of this thesis was to determine if, and to what extent, band directors use supplemental methods to develop audiation skills in beginning band students.  The sub-problems of this thesis were to identify more specifically what methods, if any, teachers employ to develop audiation skills for understanding tonality and rhythm. 

The research occurred in various elementary and middle schools throughout Minnesota.  This research setting was diverse and included both public and private schools of various socio-economic and cultural backgrounds in rural, suburban, and urban settings.  The subjects of this study were teachers of beginning band students.  Subjects were contacted via e-mail and asked to access and complete an anonymous online survey through Survey Monkey.  Of the 132 teachers of beginning band students invited via e-mail to participate in this research, thirty-three responded.

The results of this study reveal that when it comes to developing students’ tonal audiation skills, many band directors use modeling strategies, listening activities, singing tasks, and activities that require students to play by ear and improvise.  Almost all of the teachers surveyed indicated that they use movement to teach a sense of pulse or beat, that their students tap their feet when they play and clap their rhythm patterns before they play them, and that they teach their students to conduct new meters as they learn them.  Band directors are also consistently using sound-before-sight strategies when introducing new rhythms and activities in rhythmic improvisation.