Rhythm in shoes: student perceptions of the integration of tap dance into choral music
Wagoner, Russell Andrew
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to collect descriptive data pertaining to students’ perceptions regarding the use of tap dance movement and its effect on the understanding of rhythms found in choral literature. This enquiry investigated the following questions: (a) What are the perceptions of high school students regarding the difficulty of tap dance movement? (b) What are the perceptions of high school students regarding the effectiveness of tap dance movement as a method toward promoting their rhythm accuracy when performing rhythms featured in choral music? (c) What are the perceptions of high school students regarding the effectiveness of integrating tap dance movement with the study of select rhythm patterns chosen from choral literature in their retention of the rhythms? Over a five-month period, high school choral ensemble members (N = 88) were taught twenty-five rhythm patterns excerpted from choral literature, integrating tap dance movement with the instruction. The results revealed that the difficulty level of the movement, tempo at which it is executed, the changing of feet while performing the movement, and the amount of tap experience an individual possesses influence students’ perceptions regarding the degree of complexity of tap dance movement. Additionally, the data indicate the enjoyment of the movement, the demonstrations of the movement, the integration of music with the movement, the use of step names and counting, and the use of tap shoes are elements related to tap dance movement that students perceived to help promote their understanding of rhythms found in choral music. Moreover, the results pertaining to the students’ perception of how tap dance movement was an effective method of promoting their retention of rhythms found in choral music indicate a lack of agreement. While there were singers who found the movement to benefit their ability to memorize the examined rhythms, there was a comparable amount of students who indicated that they were unable to remember the rhythms following the instruction. Lastly, the findings provide information regarding the specific types of movements that students found beneficial to their rhythmic comprehension, adding to the existing literature and useful for replication in future studies.