The effect of singing instruction on tone quality and intonation of beginning brass players
Morantz, Cara Anne
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The purpose of this study was to determine whether beginning brass students who engaged in singing movable do solfege tonal patterns, prior to performing those patterns on instruments, developed a more discriminatory sense of pitch, improved tone quality, and better intonation than those who did not. Using a Control/ Treatment Group Experimental design, three research questions were addressed: (1) Did singing movable do solfege tonal patterns, prior to performing those patterns on instruments, improve students’ discriminatory sense of pitch? (2) Did singing movable do solfege tonal patterns with pure and resonant vowel shapes, prior to performing those patterns on instruments, improve the purity and resonance of tone quality of beginning brass players? (3) Did singing movable do solfege tonal patterns, prior to performing those patterns on instruments, improve the intonation of beginning brass players? Thirty-six middle school students in the southeast portion of the country participated. The subjects were sixth-grade volunteers registered for beginning band class. Each subject was learning to play a brass instrument—trumpet, trombone, euphonium, or tuba. The students were divided into two statistically equal groups based on results of the Selmer Music Guidance Survey for Pitch (SMGSP). During the six-week experiment, both groups received traditional method book instruction from the school band director. In addition, the experimental group received singing instruction on movable do solfege tonal patterns. At the end of the six-week period, both groups repeated the SMGSP and recorded a line from the method book that all had equal experience performing. On the pretest-posttest SMGSP, students were graded for accuracy by listening to pairs of tones (sixteen items) and indicating whether the second pitch was the same, higher, or lower than the first. The results indicated that although the experimental group performed better than the control group, the difference was not significant. Pretest scores and gender had a significant effect on the results of the posttest. While females in the treatment group had the highest average scores for tone, an examination of the scores from each group failed to yield statistical significance. Likewise, an examination of the posttest scores for intonation between the control and treatment groups was not statistically significant. In conclusion, the research indicates that singing instruction has neither a positive nor a negative impact on instrumental tone quality and intonation, but suggests that singing may be beneficial in improving pitch discrimination.