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Improvisation Questionnaire

Discussion in 'Music' started by NPTJ, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. NPTJ

    NPTJ New commenter

    Dear Music Teacher colleagues,
    I am in the final stages of my PGCE and am conducting a study into improvisation within the music classroom. I am very interested in music teachers' attitudes towards teaching improvisation, their own knowledge of and ability to improvise themselves, and the reasons behind this.
    If you felt so inclined, I would be very grateful if you could spare me five minutes to cut and paste the questionnaire below and email it to me:
    m r p a t r i c k j o h n s [at] h o t m a i l . c o m.
    Many thanks for your help!
    Patrick
    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
    Please define "improvisation" as you understand it:

    Section 1: Improvisation in the classroom
    1a. Along with composing and performing, improvisation is part of the National Curriculum. In which Schemes of Work do you introduce it? How? Or is it something you'd leave to students' instrumental teachers?
    1b. Were you taught any improvisation when you were at school?
    1c. Are you a confident improviser? In any particular style?
    1d. Do you think this affects your attitude towards improvisation? How (eg reluctant to teach something you can't demonstrate)?
    1e. How important a skill do you think improvising is for pupils?

    Section 2: Free improvisation (as opposed to stylistic improvisation: jazz, blues, Baroque ornamentation, etc.)
    2a. What's your first thought when you see "free improvisation" (eg exciting, terrifying, liberating, pointless, atonal, Emperor's new clothes... be honest!)?
    2b. Does free improvisation have a place in the classroom?
    • Yes definitely
    • Yes with the right teacher
    • Not really... I've never seen the value myself and there's not enough time
    • Absolutely not
    2c. Do you believe that "free" improvisation ever really be free?

    Section 3: About you
    3a. How many years have you been teaching?
    3b. As a performing musician, please indicate all that apply to you (please be honest! Remember, this isn't a job application...!) And apologies for the vagueness...
    • Classical: instrumentalist
    • Classical: singer
    • Jazz (singer/instrumentalist): 1900-c1950 style
    • Jazz (singer/instrumentalist): c1950-2012 style
    • Pop/Rock: instrumentalist
    • Pop/Rock: singer
    • World/Traditional: instrumentalist
    • World/Traditional: singer
    3c. Have you ever publicly performed music with a high proportion of improvisation?
    3d. Would you be interested in developing your own improvisation? Or can you do without it thank you very much?
    END OF QUESTIONNAIRE - THANK YOU!


     
  2. NPTJ

    NPTJ New commenter

    Dear Music Teacher colleagues,
    I am in the final stages of my PGCE and am conducting a study into improvisation within the music classroom. I am very interested in music teachers' attitudes towards teaching improvisation, their own knowledge of and ability to improvise themselves, and the reasons behind this.
    If you felt so inclined, I would be very grateful if you could spare me five minutes to cut and paste the questionnaire below and email it to me:
    m r p a t r i c k j o h n s [at] h o t m a i l . c o m.
    Many thanks for your help!
    Patrick
    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
    Please define "improvisation" as you understand it:

    Section 1: Improvisation in the classroom
    1a. Along with composing and performing, improvisation is part of the National Curriculum. In which Schemes of Work do you introduce it? How? Or is it something you'd leave to students' instrumental teachers?
    1b. Were you taught any improvisation when you were at school?
    1c. Are you a confident improviser? In any particular style?
    1d. Do you think this affects your attitude towards improvisation? How (eg reluctant to teach something you can't demonstrate)?
    1e. How important a skill do you think improvising is for pupils?

    Section 2: Free improvisation (as opposed to stylistic improvisation: jazz, blues, Baroque ornamentation, etc.)
    2a. What's your first thought when you see "free improvisation" (eg exciting, terrifying, liberating, pointless, atonal, Emperor's new clothes... be honest!)?
    2b. Does free improvisation have a place in the classroom?
    • Yes definitely
    • Yes with the right teacher
    • Not really... I've never seen the value myself and there's not enough time
    • Absolutely not
    2c. Do you believe that "free" improvisation ever really be free?

    Section 3: About you
    3a. How many years have you been teaching?
    3b. As a performing musician, please indicate all that apply to you (please be honest! Remember, this isn't a job application...!) And apologies for the vagueness...
    • Classical: instrumentalist
    • Classical: singer
    • Jazz (singer/instrumentalist): 1900-c1950 style
    • Jazz (singer/instrumentalist): c1950-2012 style
    • Pop/Rock: instrumentalist
    • Pop/Rock: singer
    • World/Traditional: instrumentalist
    • World/Traditional: singer
    3c. Have you ever publicly performed music with a high proportion of improvisation?
    3d. Would you be interested in developing your own improvisation? Or can you do without it thank you very much?
    END OF QUESTIONNAIRE - THANK YOU!


     
  3. Crowbob

    Crowbob Established commenter

    Do you intend on including the responses within your study? If so, you need to reword the questions so that they are more appropriate to an academic exercise. Reminding your participants to be honest, for example, is not good form...
    Best of luck with the research.
     
  4. NPTJ

    NPTJ New commenter

    Hi Crowbob,
    No, there will be no direct quotes at all. I'll be offering percentages (assuming I get enough replies) such as "65% of teachers who replied felt that they themselves were not confident improvisers", etc.
    Also, getting a general feel for attitudes towards improvisation in the classroom.
    Thanks for your feedback though - very useful, and a good reminder to check things thoroughly.
    Best wishes,
     
  5. I'm with crowbob on this - I think your survey is too ambiguous and many of the questions are not clear. Other questions are far too closed. For instance "were you taught improvisation at school" is very leading. Whereas, you might ask 'have you ever been trained in improvisation techniques" followed by a list of contexts such as 'school music lessons' , 'instrumental lessons' etc.

    Your list of musical styles is arbitrary to say the least. Why limit yourself to these? I like to improvise in the style of the second vienese school and John Cage. What do I put?

    I think the overriding problem is that you do indeed, as you say, want to get a 'general feel' about teachers use (not attitude) to improvisation rather than a detailed and focused picture - if that is the case then perhaps a survey is not the best method. Perhaps you should be asking for annecdotal evidence.

    If you insist on a survey then I suggest reworking this one so that you focus on the issues that seem to be important to you.

    1. How confident are teachers about their own improvising skills
    2. How do they use those skills in the classroom, if at all
    3. How are those skills taught to their students if at all
    4. How valuable do teachers think these skills are a. For themselves and b. For their students.

    Finally. I'm not sure I understand your distinction between 'free improvisation and other forms. I suspect you have an agenda here and would be interested to know what it is? Your list of musical styles also leads me to suspect you but musicians into boxes
     
  6. Crowbob

    Crowbob Established commenter

    Thanks for the clarification, NPTJ. If you intend on involving (and including in the final product) "human participants" in any research, you normally need to have any questionnaire/survey checked by the ethics committee of your institution. I suspect this has not been done in this case.
    It is important that you do so, as the University may refuse to mark any work that includes empirical research and I know of at least one institution who treat it as an exam offence.
    Your starting point should be to take your ideas to your lecturer and speak with them about the whole process.
    Again, best of luck with the research!
     
  7. NPTJ

    NPTJ New commenter

    <font face="Calibri">Thanks for your replies, both.</font><font face="Calibri">The list of musical styles was intended to be as brief and succinct as possible, hence not having simply &ldquo;jazz&rdquo; or &ldquo;classical&rdquo;, but without going into every conceivable genre and sub-genre.</font><font face="Calibri">Rockmeamadeus: if you like to improvise in the style of the second Viennese school and John Cage, I&rsquo;d tick &ldquo;Classical&rdquo; and whether you&rsquo;re a singer, instrumentalist, or both. I&rsquo;m not pushing for a discussion about where Cage falls in the history of music but as described above, one has to have general categories, otherwise where do you stop? Should I specify the difference between 20s swing and 30s swing? Between New Orleans and Dixieland? Between Hard rock and heavy metal? Where do you stop?</font> <font size="3">There&rsquo;s absolutely no agenda, though I can see why you suspect one. The reason is that this study is in reaction to a paper advocating the use of purely free improvisation in schools, bound by no tradition at all. I&rsquo;m adapting that to cover improvisation more generally but will have to make reference to the initial stimulus and teachers&rsquo; attitudes towards it (free).</font> <font size="3">I really don&rsquo;t try to put musicians into boxes, but it&rsquo;s been my experience as a performer and a teacher that people frequently conform to stereotypes, often with very closed minds, almost willingly isolating themselves. I myself fall into several musical camps so I&rsquo;m interested in the different attitudes of (often very learned) friends and colleagues towards various aspects of music.</font> <font size="3">Crowbob: thanks for the tip. Useful info. I have in fact run this by my university tutor who thought posting on here would be a good idea. Ah well&hellip;!</font> <font size="3">Maybe I&rsquo;ll go back to Plan A and just read existing academic papers, not actually ask those in the profession their thoughts.</font> <font size="3">Thanks!</font>
     
  8. NPTJ

    NPTJ New commenter

    PS Forgive the bizarre change in fonts halfway through... I have NO idea how that happened, except that I wrote my reply in a Word document (so that I could save it rather than trusting the internet connection) and it's done something odd to it. It looks like the second half is shouted - not at all! [​IMG]
     

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