Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Music

Major Professor

C. V. Fung

Keywords

choral, motivation, musicianship, pedagogy, performance, rehearsal

Abstract

Despite the interest in and importance of producing high quality choral performance, the question "How is superior performance produced?" has not been addressed in a holistic and naturalistic way. A synthesis of previous research findings suggests that a combination of actions, interactions, relationships, and conditions produce superior choral performance. Yet a holistic examination of this multi-faceted production process has not been conducted. In order to identify all factors contributing to the production of superior performance and how these factors work together, I comprehensively examined an extreme case of superior performance. This extreme case of superior performance was one high school, mixed choir who had performed at a national ACDA convention on three different occasions. This choir had consistently earned state superior ratings and top awards in many competitions. Through grounded theory analysis of over 34 hours of interview data, three and one-half days of observation, examination of material culture and field notes, and analysis of survey data, I purposed to discover how this choir produced superior performance.

Results of my study indicated that a combination of choral performers' beliefs, values, characteristics, actions, and interactions produced superior performance. As the core explanation of the production of superior performance, the common beliefs and values of the director and his singers promoted and activated actions and interactions that produced superior performance. Choral performers (i.e., director and singers) strongly believed in and valued hard work, diligence, excellence, success, caring, responsibility, and the music. These beliefs and values powerfully determined their identity and the quality of their performance. The director's motivational strategies and expert technical pedagogy also provided explanation for how the choir produced superior performance. The director's musicianship and musical pedagogy powerfully motivated singers. The director's musicianship inspired singers to increasingly greater performance heights. Singers' love for the music and their convictions for producing aesthetically, expressive performance, grew as they learned about and experienced the intermingling of musical and textual devices. Of lesser importance to the production of superior performance was the director's expert technical pedagogy. Through technical pedagogy, singers learned to perform with precision. Through the director's motivational strategies, musicianship, and musical and technical pedagogy, singers learned the actions and interactions necessary for the production of superior performance. Performers' beliefs and values interacting with the motivational strategies of the director propelled singers into achieving these actions and interactions and determined the intensity with which they performed.

The results of this investigation suggest examination into the effects of motivation, musicianship, and musical pedagogy on large ensemble performance quality. Results also suggest the need for investigation into the choral performers' beliefs and values and how they may impact the rehearsal and the quality of performance.

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