Focus of Attention Verbalizations in Beginning Band: A Multiple Case Study

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© National Association for Music Education 2020. Although the effects of focus of attention (FOA) on the performance of gross motor skills are now well understood, less is known about the role of FOA in naturalistic classroom settings where learners are engaged in the ongoing acquisition and refinement of complex motor skills. The purpose of this study, the first of its kind, was to explore how music teachers focus learners’ attention on physical actions (internal focus) and on the effects of those actions (external focus). We recorded three experienced band directors teaching beginner classes (sixth graders) and completed a content analysis of video recordings to describe (a) teachers’ use of internally focused (IF) and externally focused (EF) verbalizations and (b) patterns among IF and EF verbalizations. These teachers most often directed student attention to internal aspects of performance, and they also paired IF and EF statements to clearly convey how those actions affect external outcomes. Although our descriptive multiple case study design precludes generalization, these data suggest possibilities for future studies that could explore relationships between teachers’ FOA verbalizations and skill development in music classrooms.

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Journal of Research in Music Education



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