Critical Moments of Change: A Study of the Social and Musical Interactions of Precollegiate Jazz Combos
This collective case study documented how members of two precollegiate jazz combos employed verbal and musical interactions within coached and uncoached rehearsals to achieve their musical goals. This study assimilated the sociocultural theories of Vygotsky (1978) and Wertsch (1991) with the jazz studies of Berliner (1994) and Monson (1996) to develop a model of interaction for the analysis of mediated action in precollegiate jazz combos.
Data were collected from combos which were part of a five-week summer jazz camp. Rehearsals were audio- and video-taped for transcription, and additional data were collected from a music theory test, questionnaire, and exit survey given to the students and coaches. The presentation of data from two selected case studies included the transcription, coding, and analysis of each combo’s audio- and video-taped rehearsals and the analysis of the other data sources.
This study focused on the problems faced by each jazz group and the interactions which students and coaches employed to solve those problems. The analyses of each combo transcript described (1) the extent to which verbal and musical interactions occurred in precollegiate jazz combos; (2) the ways in which verbal interaction enhanced musical learning; (3) the ways in which musical interaction reflected transfer of learning; and (4) the patterns of interaction which occurred over time within and across both groups.
The analysis of both coached and uncoached rehearsals included the description and categorization of verbal, musical, and hybrid interactions used by the coach and students as they worked together to solve musical problems. Patterns of interaction over time included movement through a Zone of Proximal Development in both coach-to-peer and peer-to-peer settings and movement from imitative to assimilative, and assimilative to innovative stages of jazz performance.
The model of verbal and musical interaction was revised to accommodate the variety of hybrid interactions which emerged from the analysis of the combo transcripts. Implications for coaching jazz combos are drawn directly from the transcripts and presented with implications for further study.