Required Practice Journals and Their Potential Influence on Sixth Grade Band Retention

June 3, 2014 / By: Matthew Glen Marsolek

The intent of this investigation was to research elements that improve continued participation in instrumental music during school years and apply that research to the classroom. The project includes a literature review that examines action research as it relates to practicing educators and outlines factors that may increase the likelihood of continued participation in instrumental in school music programs. One of those factors is the application of “Achievement Goal Theory” to the music classroom to improve motivation in learning music, which promotes the use of internal motivators and the removal of external motivators. The purpose of this action research study was to determine whether or not removing an external motivator—graded biweekly practice journals—may be a factor in sixth grade band students’ motivation to remain in band. To examine this, one class spent the 2012–2013 school year filling out required biweekly practice journals, and one class spent the 2013–2014 school year without a required practice journal. Data from the two classes of sixth grade band students was analyzed and examined to consider the students’ self-reported reasons for remaining in the band program. A higher percentage of students in the sixth grade class without required practice journals remained in the band program and indicated more positive comments toward being in band. This suggests that a possible connection between removing external motivators connected to playing an instrument and retention in instrumental music programs may exist.