Abstract

The purpose of this descriptive survey study was to investigate trends, characteristics, beliefs, and music-making practices of band and orchestra teachers. Respondents (N = 791) indicated that they taught band (n = 525) and/or orchestra (n = 381) at the elementary (n = 306), middle school (n = 493), and/or high school (n = 401) levels. These teachers reported that they (a) played their instruments more frequently for their least-advanced students than for their most-advanced students, (b) most frequently used modeling for their least-advanced students to demonstrate technique and model tone quality, and (c) most frequently used modeling for their most-advanced students to demonstrate musicality or musical style. Directors who played string instruments were more likely than their wind and percussion counterparts to report modeling for their most-advanced students. We also found that middle school directors claimed to model most frequently compared to elementary and high school directors. Respondents valued modeling most for being an effective teaching tool but also found that modeling promoted student engagement and motivation and was a relationship-building tool. Almost all of our respondents (94.9%) reported playing their primary instruments outside of the classroom, and the most frequent reasons were that it was part of their identity, it kept their performing skills sharp in order to model for students, and it contributed to personal satisfaction and well-being. Orchestra directors were more likely to play outside the classroom than band teachers, and orchestral string players were more likely to play outside the classroom than wind, percussion, piano, or guitar principals.

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