The nature of applied voice teaching expertise: common elements observed in the lessons of three exemplary applied voice instructors
Stanley, Elizabeth Kathryn
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Based on theories of expert pedagogy, the purpose of this study was to better understand the nature of expertise in voice instruction by observing common elements across three expert voice teachers (Joseph Frank, tenor; Eric Howe, baritone; and Erie Mills, soprano) and discovering the extent voice teaching aligned with common elements of instrumental instruction (Duke & Simmons, 2006a). This qualitative study addressed the overarching question: How can expert voice teaching be characterized? More specifically, using Duke and Simmons’ study of instrumental music teaching expertise as a point of departure, I wanted to understand: To what extent does voice teaching observed in the present study align with Duke and Simmons’ 19 Common Elements of Expertise? Methods of data collection included observation-digital recording of nearly 20 hours of lessons, participant interviews, and field notes. Recorded lessons were reviewed to identify teaching behaviors-attributes that related to students’ goal achievement within “rehearsal frames” (Duke, 1999/2000; 2008). Data analysis occurred in two phases, first coding transcribed data for original elements and second for new elements. Narrative descriptions were created for new elements. Findings gave evidence that expert voice teaching was similar to 14 original elements and revealed nine new elements under three categories: working with a largely invisible and fully embodied instrument, frequent exclusive focus on technique, and drawing on extensive familiarity with texts used for singing. Conclusions advance a theoretical model of voice teaching expertise, drawing on Berliner (1986; 1988). That model has implications for the preparation of novice voice teachers and for further research on voice teaching expertise.