The purpose of this study was to determine what teaching strategies were most effective in achieving clear and accurate articulation among middle school band students. The specific research question was: Are particular teaching methods more effective than others in helping young wind players to articulate clearly with accurate execution across various tempos? Seventh-grade wind players (N = 353) served as the participants in this experimental pretest/posttest study, which was carried out during the Fall Semester 2010 near Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The independent variable in this study included five teaching conditions that were implemented over the course of a 10-week treatment period. These included: (a) control group, (b) articulation guide group, (c) practice group, (d) audio model group, and (e) visual model group. During pretest and posttest performances, participants played an articulation exercise at four tempos (60, 80, 100, and 120 bpm); the researcher assessed performances at each tempo independently, using an 8-point Likert-scale. In order to compensate for differences in mean pretest scores between the five teaching conditions, a one-way, between-groups ANCOVA was conducted to compare the degree to which young wind players articulated clearly with accurate execution across various tempos. The dependent variable consisted of the sum of scores (four performance tempos) from the posttest performance of an articulation exercise. The scores from a pre-intervention performance (pretest) of the same articulation exercise constituted the covariate. After adjusting for the covariate, there was a significant main effect for group regarding the degree to which young wind players articulated clearly with accurate execution across various tempos, p < .001. Pairwise comparisons revealed statistically significant differences between the following groups: the practice group outscored the control group, p = .025; the audio model group outscored both the control group, p < .001, and the articulation guide group, p < .001; and the visual model group outscored both the control group, p < .001, and the articulation guide group, p = .007.
Based on the progressive design utilized in the current study, the treatment conditions that resulted in the maximum degree of difference included a combination of: (a) information about the process of articulation via an articulation guide sheet, (b) regular articulation practice during band rehearsals, and (c) aural models through the inclusion of recordings by professional musicians playing the articulation exercise. The current researcher recommends the combination of these elements within band rehearsals.
Sample materials from the current study can be accessed via the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy as well as ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Online Digital Repository, including (a) copies of the articulation exercise, articulation guide sheet, and signal graph image sheet; (b) audio tracks of the pretest/posttest accompaniment track, the accompaniment tracks utilized during the treatment period, and the researcher reading the articulation guide sheet and explaining the concept of wind-pattern exercises; and (c) the articulation video used during the treatment period.