Developing Musical Independence in a High School Band


Brian Weidner

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Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education

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This qualitative case study describes how a band director, whose objectives included the development of musical independence, designed his classroom, curriculum, and instruction and how his students experienced this pedagogical practice. Teachers and students of a secondary-level concert band were observed and interviewed over the course of an 8-week concert cycle. The lead teacher utilized a constructivist approach comprised of three interrelated elements: a deliberately structured band environment, teacher-moderated instruction, and student-led engagement. The teacher-moderated and student-led elements were situated within an educational space that emphasized musical rigor, social engagement, and extramusical skills. This environment promoted students' musical growth with support from social and extramusical resources. The teacher facilitated learning through scaffolded instruction that included modeling, guided problem solving and decision-making, and intentional vagueness. These strategies invited students to actively engage in critical thinking and take personal responsibility within the large ensemble setting. Students applied their learning from teacher-moderated instruction to student-led music opportunities in both large and chamber ensembles. The teacher monitored but did not participate in student-led activities, allowing the students to make their own musical diagnoses and decisions. He used his observations to determine specific student needs and inform his own instructional practice. Students demonstrated musical independence to varying degrees as the teacher facilitated learning differently dependent on student, content, and situation.


This article was originally published in Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 2015, No. 205.