The relative effectiveness of the use of ideation techniques in the teaching of beginning piano to undergraduate non-music majors
This study was designed to compare the relative effectiveness of the ideation technique and the traditional approach to teaching beginning class piano to adult students. Ideation technique was defined as the instructional procedures used by a teacher to initiate the ideation process, a procedure involving the imagery of a specific physical response to a mental suggestion. This required that the desired physical response be completely executed in the imagination before any attempt was made to physically perform the activity. Ideation techniques were intended to elicit a maximum use of the imagination to promote immediate recognition of the keyboard and the subsequent correlation of musical symbols with the keyboard. The traditional approach utilized the presently adopted text and course syllabus for piano classes at the University of Houston. Students from two sections of class piano at the University of Houston were randomly assigned to either the control or experimental group (N=22). These groups met for fourteen weeks at the same time, twice a week, for fifty minutes in separate, but adjacent piano laboratories. Two graduate assistants, considered to be equal in teaching ability and expertise, served as the instructors and were randomly assigned to their respective group. The course content for each group was identical, however the method of teaching these concepts and skills differed. Instructors in both groups emphasized keyboard geography, music fundamentals, and functional skills. In the experimental group, each concept and skill was approached through a three-step process of ideation: (1) preparation, (2) mental imagery, and (3) performance. Appropriate ideation exercises were utilized for approximately fifteen minutes in class and assigned for home practice. This technique required the use of blindfolds which were expected to further enhance the students' ability to use mental imagery. Subjects in the control group were exposed to similar exercises without the use of blindfolds and were given the same homework assignments. Data was obtained by means of four posttests and evaluated by three qualified adjudicators. Multivariate analysis of variance revealed no significant differences between the control and the experimental group subjects relative to sight-reading, rhythmic and pitch accuracy, keyboard correlation, and physical tension. Higher posttest scores, however, on all but one of the four variables were recorded for the experimental group. This may suggest that a similar study for a longer duration might result in statistical significance. On the basis of the results the following recommendations were made: (1) replication using a larger sample; (2) determination of the relationship of each dependent variable; (3) utilization of different school settings; (4) inclusion of different age groups at different levels of ability; (5) additional controls regarding the use of blindfolds; (6) greater emphasis regarding home practice; (7) implementation of in-service training for the experimental instructor; and (8) exploration of this technique with music majors, special education students, and older adults.