The Performers’ Salon – Carmel Liertz’s Performance Confidence social media news blog – highlights a variety of topics to interest all aspirational music performers. On special occasions (as in this special end-of-year issue) outside performer-educator researchers from Australia and other countries are also invited to report on their new projects.
Cross-fertilization of knowledge is vital for music professionals, though not always tangible in our everyday professional lives. Assisting us to feel informed, connected and inspired, the cross-fertilizing of knowledge deserves multiple platforms to push forward new ways of ‘thinking’ and ‘doing’. Here is one place we can witness insightful performer educators reaching out for the expansion of creative, collaborative, and holistic approaches to enhance Learning, Teaching and Performance.
Holistic approaches to Learning, Teaching and Performance are now regarded as essential for all levels of music education in the 21st century. For the tradition-based field of music education this has been a slow shift. However, the significance of an eclectic and integrative approach to music performance became clear to me as an apprentice teen pianist working alongside experienced music theatre performers, theatre actors as well as classical and jazz performers – all outside of my instrumental studies with renowned holistic-minded music educator, pianist, composer, musicologist, Larry Sitsky. Observing elite athletes gave me added performance insights at that age too. Later, I would hear my piano professor at the Munich Music Academy recommend observing elite gymnasts’ focus and co-ordinated mind-body rhythmic movements.
‘Cross-Training’ and crossing domains enhance specialized skills. Music performers during student days well understand the need to have a portfolio of skills to survive in a fiercely competitive world. For peak sport performance, elite athletes have long incorporated ‘cross-training’ – additional sport skills along with their specialised skills – as integrated weekly training. Back in the 1970s elite sport performers adopted ‘mind-body’ training programs to enhance their technical skills, and these continue successfully today. The renowned behavioural psychologists stepped across fields assisting with the establishment of sport psychology at that time. Albert Bandura established his (1977) Self-Efficacy Theory, which was immediately applied to Sport Performance, then to other domains – Education and finally, Music Education and Music Performance. Self-Efficacy Theory became the foundational basis for my (2002) research: Developing Performance Confidence: A Holistic Training Strategies Program for Managing Practice and Performance in Music. (The resultant ‘training program’ as book/ ebook is featured at the end of this issue).
Here now for your enjoyment are brief reports from three inspirational performer educators about their new ways of ‘thinking’ and ‘doing’.
NEW CLASSROOM MUSIC EDUCATION BOOK – A PREVIEW
In 2015, Dr Sylvana Augustyniak, Australian music educator of over thirty two years, academic researcher, national/international academic writer, composer and author will release her new textbook, Product-based Learning in the Music Classroom.
Geared to students improvising and composing in the classroom at stages 4-5 music, it encapsulates a 21st century holistic learning approach through Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Communication and Creativity. Whilst maintaining the integrity and content of traditional learning areas, this book supports the new Australian National Music Curriculum.
The book evolved from Augustniak’s empirical doctoral study as well as her classroom strategies developed since 2007. It is suited to all levels and differences in musical ability – from the novice to the expert. With a clear procedural process from the initial stage of knowledge gained from the teacher, then through the collaborative exploration of the processes involved in improvising and composing, students become actively engaged in a fun way. Along with the additional novel features to assist and develop students’ critical thinking and confidence in their ability, this book promises to be of enormous benefit to high school/college level music teachers and their students.
Product-based Learning in the Music Classroom will be available as soon as possible in 2015. See Linkedin:au.linkedin.com/pub/dr-sylvana-augustyniak/50/357/467, Sylvana Augustyniak or book title.
NEW THESIS – ‘PRACTICE STRATEGIES OF AN ELITE INSTRUMENTAL PERFORMER’
Deborah de Graaff, renowned Australian concert clarinettist, competition prize-winner, educationalist and researcher recently completed her PhD at the University of New South Wales entitled, Practice strategies of an elite instrumental performer: A case study under test conditions, comparing quantitative data to coded Think Aloud and interview.
The aim of this research was to determine how elite instrumental musicians set about learning unfamiliar and difficult repertoire. By focusing on one distinguished oboist in particular, this study discovered how he organized, strategized and motivated his practice. Two challenging test pieces were selected, each to be learnt in a demanding context, allowing the researcher to capture a variety of practice strategies and skills. Three important outcomes are presented: (A) The development of new techniques for measuring music performance, including a ‘Note-time Playing Path’ for pitch and tempo visualisation, and protocols for assessing pitch and rhythmic accuracy. Application of these tools found that the musician’s pitch errors occurred within 3 notes distance – before or after the location of the target note on the score; (B) The Model of Elite Practice was proposed; (C) The performer’s passion emerged as a powerful strategy for efficient practice. The model divides general practice strategies into four sequential levels:
(1) The Problem defines the problem to be solved: to learn, e.g., “get my head around the notes”; self-efficacy, e.g., “to believe that the work is achievable”; affinity e.g., “to connect with the music”; planning e.g., “to plan my practice time”; and regenerate “to rest a tired hand”;(2) The Cognitive Path which is classified as either General Task, Metacognition or Self-regulation; (3) The Action which applies an explicit strategy (such as repetition, goal setting, switching attitude and beating time) to address the performance problem of level 1; (4) Skills, defined as a collection of tools, are recruited by the Strategy (level 3) to most efficiently fulfill the goals driven by the Problem (level 1). These skills include processing notes, processing rhythm, motivation, persistence and memorization.
The thesis calls for greater attention to the newly proposed Action and Skills levels of the model, which emerged as integral strategies to this musician’s practice. For example, “Switching attitude” from negative to positive at Level 3 was considered a novel strategy. With careful application, this study’s findings could make music learning less effortful, more enjoyable, and less time consuming – as it may need less time to achieve a finer product.
PROJECT TO EXPLORE A THREE-WAY EXCHANGE BETWEEN THREE PERFORMANCE DOMAINS
Marie Vassiliou, soprano, educationalist, researcher, singing professor at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama reports here on her upcoming 2015 project.
My next project will explore the three-way exchange between singing, instrumental and drama expertise, focused around Clerambault’s dramatic cantata, Médée (1710) for soprano, violin, viola da gamba and harpsichord. The project will take place in the UK Spring Term and will be conducted by an instrumental specialist, a drama specialist and myself, a vocal specialist.
Having had some limited opportunities to co-teach over the last 9 years within Guildhall and also to take part in numerous professional development workshops with other members of staff, and also attend the utterly inspiring iCON seminar with performer-teachers from around the world, I feel it is extremely valuable and important to our development and renewal as teachers and artists to exchange ideas in this way and experience what happens when there are three experienced professionals from three different disciplines in the teaching room together. This kind of opportunity to learn from each other’s teaching and expertise in action and to exchange ideas across our different musical and acting disciplines is invaluable; it is very different from collaborating with teachers from the same discipline.
The background to this idea is a research project, which I carried out earlier in 2014, as part of an MA entitled, Fearless Performance: understanding, teaching and learning fearlessness in vocal performance.
I am interested in continuing my research and embedding it in my teaching by looking at one particular area, which became an important part of the original project – looking at texts and how to embody a character, in order to promote fearless performance and a state of flow in performance. Activities that help to keep a singer present or ‘in the moment’ will promote fearless performance and therefore reduce or eradicate some forms of performance anxiety. www.marievass.com
CROSS-DOMAIN LINKS OF INTEREST
Positive Psychology (Martin Seligman; Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi,1998) expressed in all fields. www.positivepsychology.org
Understanding and Applying Jazz Modes www.decodamode.com
Looking for a meaningful holiday gift for a musical friend or relative? The gift for a life-time would be the book/ebook:
Performance Confidence: A Training Program for Musicians at www.performanceconfidence.com www.youtube.com/watch?v=06vSXl-IS88
WISHING YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND EXCITING NEW YEAR!