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Principles of Motor Learning in Classical Singing Teaching.

  • Crocco, Laura1
  • McCabe, Patricia1
  • Madill, Catherine2
  • 1 The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 2 The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia. Electronic address: [email protected] , (Australia)
Published Article
Journal of voice : official journal of the Voice Foundation
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2018.12.019
PMID: 30712882


Classical singing is a complex and multifaceted skill that requires the amalgamation of multiple cognitive, perceptual and motor functions. The teaching of classical singing is consequently a unique skill that holds further complexity. The singer is required to achieve and maintain consistently high performance development of a specific motor activity, much like the sports athlete. This pilot study examines a method of using the principles of motor learning to more objectively and reliably investigate the teaching behaviors of classical singing teachers. Such a method may establish a nexus between empirical research, teaching quality and learning outcomes in music performance education. A total of 12 participants were recruited from two Australian conservatoria of music. All participants were fluent in English at tertiary level. Participants included four classical singing teachers and eight classical singing students over the age of 18 years. Eight one-to-one singing lessons between the teacher and student were audio-visually recorded. Content analysis was conducted on the observational data. The principles of motor learning were used as a behavioral framework protocol to allow for the systematic identification of teaching behavior. Results presented various findings regarding teaching behaviors in one-to-one classical singing lessons in higher music education. Key findings included (a) common use of instruction, feedback, modeling, and other behaviors (b) uncommon use of motivation, explanation, and perceptual training behaviors, (c) higher use of knowledge of results than knowledge of performance feedback behaviors, (d) high routine use of instruction, modeling, and feedback behaviors each time a student attempted a task, (e) common use of other suggested teachers use behaviors unidentifiable by the behavioral protocol, and (f) the principles of motor learning appear to be a reliable framework for the identification of teaching behaviors in this field. This study may have implications for how teachers administer and govern their behaviors in one-to-one classical singing lessons. The principles of motor learning may encourage a nexus between empirical research, teaching quality, and learning outcomes. Furthermore, this study provides recommendations for future research on systematically improving teaching and learning in this field. Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Inc.

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