Musical spatial awareness and its effect on young instrumentalists' performance
Floyd, Ashley Nolan
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The organization of music education on musical elements has a long history in the United States, although musicians have periodically held various opinions about how music is conceived in terms of its constituent parts. From Lowell Mason, who organized lessons in the Boston Manual according to pitch, rhythm, and dynamics, to Jerome Bruner, who promoted a method of conceptual transference in a spiral-shaped curriculum, the elements of music have informed both large scale curricular decisions as well as the daily lesson plans of classroom teachers. Although the list of basic elements has evolved and changed over time, the concept of music spatialization and its implications for music education has yet to be fully considered. Despite the fact that spatialization has become a frequent topic in music technology and music theory journals and dissertations in recent years, it has not often found its way in curricular discussion either at the primary or secondary level. This study explores the potential benefits of including spatialization as a basic element of music by examining the effect it has on the musical performance of eighth-grade band students. Participants engaged in a series of eight classroom lessons exploring spatialization through listening and musical performance. At the conclusion of the lessons, the students recorded two short musical selections featuring contrasting textures using a standard band seating before taking an active role in adjusting and determining four different spatial possibilities for four subsequent performances. Qualified band judges scored the recorded performances using the Georgia Music Educators Association Large Group Evaluation rubric as a standard to determine whether the students’ spatial decisions resulted in a more musically pleasing performance. The students also completed a survey on their experience, with spatialization as a topic of study.