An investigation into the strategies and approaches pertaining to the teaching of beginning oboe students in public school band programs
Prodan, Lisa Hauser
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Learning to play a musical instrument may be both rewarding yet frustrating for the young student. As with many instruments, the oboe presents challenges and difficulties for the beginning student, which may limit the appropriate development of skills necessary for success. Therefore, it may be crucial that oboe students receive proper instruction at the beginning of their study. According to current and previous research, information regarding methodologies used by public school band instructors pertaining to teaching beginning oboe students ranges from limited to non-existent. A greater understanding of these teaching strategies and approaches may improve effectiveness of oboe instruction in public school band programs, thereby increasing successful performance at the beginning level and beyond. A questionnaire was developed and hosted on the Internet to investigate the strategies and approaches used by public school band instructors pertaining to the teaching of beginning oboe students. Instructors who taught grades five through eight in the United States participated in the study by completing the on-line questionnaire.The majority (82.2%) of participating band instructors indicated they permit students to begin oboe study in the middle school grade levels. Although many professionals and specialists have recommended that beginning oboe students first study another instrument (Colwell, R.J. & Goolsby, T., 1992; Kemper, R., 1970; Prodan, J., 1995; Rath, R., n.d.; Robinson, W., 2001; Weiger, M, 1998; Westphal, F., 1990), as well as receive small-group homogeneous (Mayer, R., 1956; Polk, J., 2004) and private instruction (Rothwell, E., 1982; Whittow, M., 1992), many participating band instructors indicated they do not use these strategies and approaches. Band instructors indicated an overall satisfaction with their primary band method book pertaining to the teaching of fundamental concepts on oboe, although some acknowledged deficiencies and limitations, especially pertaining to proper fingerings and embouchure formation, and indicated the need for supplemental materials and private instruction. Due to challenges of playing oboe and potential limitations of band method books, band instructors may need to consider various teaching strategies and approaches such as providing oboe instruction beyond the full-band class, implementing materials specifically intended for oboe, and providing aural and visual models for oboe students.