Less Teacher Talk, More Ensemble Music!

Teachers can “act their way into a new way of thinking,” said researchers Madsen and Madsen in 1972.

Go with What Works!

“An approach to teaching that involves a presentation of a task by the teacher, followed by the student’s response to the task, and the teacher’s reinforcement for the task presented is most effective,” says Wilma L. Benson.

“Research since 1979 has found that verbal communication should be kept to a minimum with active performance to a maximum … to establish and maintain student on-task behavior,” she adds.

“The effectiveness of praise in the teaching sequence is well-documented and shows that strong positive reinforcement increases student attentiveness and improves student attitude (Forsythe, 1975; Kuhn, 1975; Murray, 1975),” Benson says.

In a study in which she set out to determine the effects of observation and analysis of models and oneself on the modification of the subjects’ teaching behavior, Benson looked at three string teachers who were able to act their way into new ways of thinking.  When these teachers used the three-step method of presentation, response, and reinforcement, their students showed an increase in desired behaviors, and their response times were faster.

Benson’s entire article, “The Effect of Models, Self-Observation, and Evaluation on the Modification of Specified Teaching Behaviors of an Applied Music Teacher” in the Spring 1989 issue of Update: The Applications of Research in Music Education, pp. 28–31.

At the time of the study, MENC member Wilma L. Benson taught at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Sources cited:  C. K. Madsen and C. H. Madsen Jr., “Selection of Music Listening or Candy as a Function of Contingent versus Non-Contingent Reinforcement and Scale Singing,” Journal of Music Therapy 9 (1972): 190–98; J. L. Forsythe, “The Effect of Teacher Approval, Disapproval, and Errors on Student Attentiveness:  Music versus Classroom Teachers,” in C. K. Madsen, R. D. Greer, and C. H. Madsen Jr. (Eds.), Research in Music Behavior (New York: Teachers College Press, 1975), 49–55; T. L. Kuhn, “The Effect of Teacher Approval and Disapproval on Attentiveness, Musical Achievement, and Attitude of Fifth-Grade Students,” in C. K. Madsen, R. D. Greer, and C. H. Madsen Jr. (Eds.), Research in Music Behavior (New York: Teachers College Press, 1975), 40–48; K. C. Murray, “The Effect of Teacher Approval/Disapproval on Musical Performance, Attentiveness, and Attitude of High School Choruses,” in C. K. Madsen, R. D. Greer, and C. H. Madsen Jr. (Eds.), Research in Music Behavior (New York: Teachers College Press, 1975), 165–80.

–Ella Wilcox, May 17, 2011, © National Association for Music Education (www.nafme.org)