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Title: Practice in orchestral life : an exploratory study of string players' learning processes
Author: Galvao, Afonso Celso Tanus.
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2000
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This study explored the learning habits of string players in a professional symphony orchestra, how they practise, what influences their practice, and how it interacts with rehearsal. For this, four research questions were investigated: () how complementary are rehearsal and practice to the learning of orchestral music? (u) how is the practice of orchestral players approached in terms of methods, regularity, content and structure? (ii) how do such factors as conductor, musical preference, and loss of individuality affect motivation to practise? and (v) what are the strategies that conductors use to influence musicians' commitment to practise? A triangular methodological strategy was undertaken, comprising semi-structured interviews, questionnaire, observation, and case studies. These were preceded by a semantic field research exercise aiming at eliciting the vocabulary participants used in reference to the phenomena investigated. Forty South-American musicians completed a comprehensive mixed-format questionnaire; fifteen musicians and five conductors were interviewed at length; and Twenty-five rehearsals/concerts were observed. Finally, three case studies described musicians' learning processes for a contemporary composition and two traditional pieces of the symphonic repertoire. Results indicated that rehearsal and practice were highly complementary aspects of orchestral learning. In terms of practice habits, players displayed a large range of physical and mental techniques to solve musical problems swiftly, as well as considerable metacognitive capacity. Their practice processes included more general aspects such as planning, evaluation, setting up goals, and priorities; and specific strategies such as listening to and playing with records, speed alteration, use of the metronome, as well as relaxation exercises with and without the instrument. There was also a concern with balancing the practice of technical exercises, studies, solo and orchestral repertoire. However, motivation to learn was found to be affected by the conductor, repertoire and general working ethos, in that order of importance. Conductors were aware of their role as a motivational force behind players' practice, but assumed varying levels of responsibility for this. Implications for current and future research on practice and expertise, and for instrumental music teaching and learning were addressed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Psychology of music Psychology Education Literature Mass media Performing arts