Time Use and Reported Perceptions of University Voice Students During Self-Guided Practice Sessions: A Quantitative Content Analysis
University of Kansas
Music Education & Music Therapy
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Little research has appraised the behaviors of musicians in practice rooms during self-guided practice sessions, and no study to date has investigated singers’ behaviors across multiple self-guided practice sessions. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to document by audio-recordings and questionnaires the audible behaviors and expressed attitudes of university vocalists (N = 40) across 5 self-guided practice sessions with attention to (a) duration of practice sessions compared to previously expressed estimations, (b) participants’ attitudes and strategies with respect to vocal practicing, and (c) audible behaviors occurring during the first 15 minutes of practice. Among primary results: (a) Singers overall evidenced during the course of this study a mean practice session duration of 28 minutes; (b) There were significant differences in practice durations between male and female participants, and among some participants grouped according to reported years of voice lessons (<1-3 years and 6-9 years); (c) Mean estimations of participants’ practice durations based on prior questionnaire data exceeded by 9 minutes actual mean practice time; (d) A majority (65%) of singers said they followed an established practice routine, including a significantly greater percentage of female than male participants and a significantly greater percentage of students reporting more than three years of prior voice lessons than those reporting fewer years; (e) Undergraduate students indicated to a significantly greater extent than graduate students they had received advice on how to practice from a studio voice teacher; (f) Participants, on average, said they practiced 5 days per week; (g) Analyses of the first 15 minutes of recorded lessons indicated that these voice students on average spent the largest percentage of time (43%) on singing of repertoire, and the second largest percentage of practice time (36%) on warm-ups and vocal technical exercises, with non-performance majors spending significantly more time on repertoire and less time on technique than voice performance majors; (h) To a significant degree, practice time devoted to technique generally increased and time devoted to repertoire generally decreased as years of reported voice lessons (<1 – 9 years) increased; (i) Among participants overall, results indicated no significant difference between previously described modal first vocal practice behaviors (addressing warming up and technique) and actual first behaviors; (j) Of the 200 individual practice sessions examined, 141 (70.5%) began with singing behaviors not focused on repertoire. Results were discussed in terms of directions for future research, singing voice pedagogy, and limitations of the study.
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