Listening While Performing: Music Listening Processes as Revealed Through Verbal Reports of Wind Instrumentalists During Rehearsal
The main purpose of the present research was to examine music listening processes which occur during actual performance of music, through the verbal reports of performers. Using verbal protocol analysis, data were collected from two college juniors, two tenth grade, and two sixth grade subjects, during rehearsals of the subjects’ concert band ensemble. The study was completed during a six week period.
Subjects were asked to wear a head-set microphone connected to a cassette recorder for five rehearsals of their performing ensemble (the first being a trial run-data were analyzed from the last four rehearsals). While performing in rehearsals, subjects were asked to stop playing and comment into the microphone as often as they could in regards to what they were listening to and thinking about as they performed. Subjects were encouraged to speak freely as often as possible.
Immediately following rehearsal sessions, interviews were conducted with the subjects, in order to allow them the opportunity to reflect upon their listening processes. Subjects listened to the taped comments and were asked to further discuss what was said and what they were listening to and thinking about while performing.
Each subject’s verbal data were transcribed and reviewed in search of recurring patterns. The data revealed that performers were able to report on their thinking and listening processes as they played their instrument in actual performance situations, and meaningful data could be derived from these verbalizations. A total of 347 separate comments were placed into twelve sub-categories, and clustered into four larger categories. Several possible developmental trends were identified, but little evidence of longitudinal trends was discovered.
In contrast, little information was gathered during the post-interview sessions regarding comments made in rehearsals. Generally subjects were unable to provide additional information about their during-rehearsal listening and thinking processes. However, subjects reported that the process used in the present study forced them to listen more than they usually did, resulting in more focused attention during the rehearsal situation.
Twenty-one conclusions and a series of implications for further research and practice were given.