Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Effect of a Systematic Vocalization Method on Jazz Performance Achievement and Self-Efficacy
by Calhoun, Iantheia, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2020, 196; 28026116
Abstract (Summary)

The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a singing-aural imitation treatment on collegiate instrumentalists’ jazz performance achievement. I specifically looked at the effects of a systematic vocalization method versus a strictly traditional teaching approach (e.g., verbal/notation/instrument-only) on participants’ abilities to perform jazz music stylistically correct and to improvise. The method used was an adaptation of Ron Carter’s description of Clark Terry’s Doodle Tonguing approach to jazz articulation. A secondary purpose of the study was to investigate (a) the effect of the experimental instruction on participants’ self-efficacy to play and teach jazz and improvisation, and (b) to what extent various background variables may affect jazz improvisation achievement.

Dunscomb and Hill (2002), in their book Jazz Pedagogy: The Jazz Educator’s Handbook and Resource Guide, emphasize the importance of singing. They state: "Proper jazz articulation is essential to all successful jazz ensembles, and without it, jazz never gains its character. Being able to sing using jazz syllables and teach your ensemble to sing is a key to your group’s successful performance of the jazz style." (p. 67) Incorporating scat-singing with instrumental jazz playing has been a concept used since the inception of jazz. When asked to describe jazz in an interview, Ron Carter, saxophonist and jazz educator stated, “jazz is a vocally derived art form based on the African American dance tradition… I believe the human voice was our first instrument” (personal communication, November 2, 2016). Several researchers (Ciorba, 2009; Madura, 1996; May, 2003; Palmer, 2016) have found that aural skills ability and imitative/aural ability are predictors for jazz improvisation ability. In addition, some researchers (Fay, 2013; Schneller, 2014; Watson, 2010) found that aural instruction, listening to recordings, and scat-singing were potentially effective pedagogical approaches for teaching jazz and improvisation. Thus, this research was aimed at improving students’ jazz and improvisation performance ability and increasing their self-efficacy for playing and teaching jazz and improvisation.

Participants in the current study received a jazz lesson that lasted approximately 60-minutes. The lesson focused on developing participants’ stylistic performance of a blues melody and improvisation ability over a 12-bar blues progression. I, along with another expert jazz musician evaluated participants’ pre- and post-test performances. The Calhoun Jazz Improvisation Performance Achievement Measure (CJIPAM) (Appendix S) was used to evaluate participants’ jazz improvisations and the Calhoun Jazz Melody Performance Achievement Measure (CJMPAM) (Appendix R) was used to evaluate participants’ performances of two original researcher-constructed blues melodies.

Results showed there were no significant differences between post-test improvisation and melody played mean scores as a function of instructional group. Comparing both groups combined pre- and post-test means, the melody played performance mean scores increased, but differences were non-significant. However, significant differences were found for both groups’ pre- and post-test improvisation played performance scores. Additionally, significant differences were found between pre- and post-test for the improvisation and melody sung scores. The latter post-test scores, however, were significantly lower than the pre-test mean scores. Meaning, the treatment groups’ melody sung mean score decreased at post-test. Findings also revealed non-significant differences between the instructional groups’ mean performance and teaching self-efficacy scores. However, when combining both groups together, significant increases were found from pre- to post-test for performance and teaching self-efficacy scores.

Correlational analyses revealed significant positive correlations among several post-test performance measures. Significant positive correlations were also found between post-test improvisation scores and post-test performance self-efficacy. Analyses of the selected background questionnaire items showed significant positive correlations between participants’ post-test improvisation played scores and those who played in jazz ensemble (rpb = .29), improvised in jazz ensemble (rpb = .35), played their instrument for fun by ear (rs = .27), the extent of jazz improvisation instruction received (rs = .41), how often they listened to jazz music (rs = .27), their level of jazz theory knowledge (rs = .48), and how often they attended live jazz performances (rs = .25). The latter also positively correlated with post-test melody sung scores (rs = .51). Post-test melody played scores had a positive correlation between participants who listened to jazz music more often (rs = .30). Post-test improvisation sung scores had positive significant correlations with the following background experiences: participants who played in jazz ensemble (rpb = .43), participants who improvised in genres of music other than jazz (rpb = .38), the extent to which they played their instrument for fun by ear (rs = .48), and those who rated their jazz theory knowledge higher (rs = .54).

Lastly, categories that emerged through the process of coding the open-ended responses to the question “What did you find most beneficial about the lesson?” were: (a) Singing-Playing Concept/Articulation, (b) Lesson, (c) Self-Efficacy, (d) Environment, (e) Jazz Theory, (f) Listening, Hearing, Thinking Before Playing, and (g) More Time Needed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Miksza, Peter
Commitee: Madura Ward-Steinman, Patrice, Diaz, Frank, Harbison, Patrick
School: Indiana University
Department: Music Education
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 82/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Music education, Musical performances, Music
Keywords: Doodle-Tongue, Improvisation, Instrumental, Jazz, Self-efficacy, Sing
Publication Number: 28026116
ISBN: 9798662583030
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