Investigating Teaching and Learning Dynamics: University Beginner-Level Piano Class for Avocational Students
By: Eun Hae Yun
Published: 5/18/2016
Uploaded: 06/06/2018
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2016 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: Avocational students

Description/Abstract: University beginner-level avocation piano students bring unique learning styles to the formal classroom. Many students who learned music through informal means often find formal music learning in a formal classroom more difficult than anticipated. Therefore, this study's aim was to investigate experienced university-based group piano teachers' perceptions of and strategies for teaching beginner-level avocation group piano classes and examine their methods for teaching this particular group of students. In order to answer the overarching research question, In order to bridge the gap between students' past learning styles and traditional classroom methods, what can we learn from classes taught by experienced teachers?, qualitative multiple case studies were conducted with four group piano teachers, each having a minimum of 10 years of teaching experience. The researcher first conducted interviews of approximately 60 to 90 minutes in length with each teacher, then conducted class observations of each teacher's classroom, and finally administered open-ended surveys to students in each of the teacher's classes. A total of 44 students participated in the survey portion of the study.
The results revealed that all four teachers perceived that today's students favor popular music and love learning music that is relevant to their lifestyle. Also, teachers reported that most students had some formal musical instrument lessons in the past and learned to play simple songs on the piano, informally, prior to take this group piano class. Teachers mentioned that these students employed several informal piano learning methods such as playing by ear, imitating other people's hand movements, and learning from video tutorials.
The results also revealed that when teachers incorporated students' previous informal learning styles into the formal classroom learning, students learned more effectively and meaningfully. As evidence, students reported that they considered fundamentals of music and basic skills to play the piano as important elements to learn through the class in order to play the songs they wanted to play. Avocation group piano teachers must be sensitive to the uniqueness of students' learning styles and, in order to optimize classroom learning, should incorporate them into the classroom curriculum.