Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name





Conducting, Instrumental Music, Rehearsal, Teacher Talk


Bayley, Jonathan




The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine how music educators in the role of conductor use verbal communication to teach musical concepts and increase the performance level of the ensemble in a secondary school band rehearsal context. During the course of this study, four secondary school music educators were interviewed twice, observed directing two rehearsals, and participated in a focus group discussion. Discourse Analysis and Foucault’s Post-structuralism were used as the framework for analysis for this study. The four main themes emerging from the data were communication from the podium, teaching musical concepts, improving musical performance levels, and changes in verbal communication practices. Music educators used the following conventions of language: providing information, giving instructions, providing feedback, error correction, drill, and modeling to teach musical concepts and improve performance. In Foucault’s terms, the participants utilized the narrative (i.e., provided information), the process (i.e., gave instructions and model), the event (i.e., provide feedback and correct errors), and the repetition (i.e., drill). Each participant displayed unique verbal communication practices that related to her/his perceived role as conductor, teaching philosophy, experiences, and personality. All of the participants used a variety of communication strategies (scaffolding language, providing feedback, and the three-part sequence) to teach musical concepts and improve the overall performance of the ensemble. They provided information to support their instructions and used feedback, modeling, information, instructions, and drill to assist with error correction. The findings suggest that the use of clear, specific language resulted in improved levels of student learning and performance. Conductors may gain insight regarding student learning if they give their students the opportunity to critically think and share ideas in rehearsal. Finally, music teachers could reduce the amount of spoken language devoted to giving instructions, providing feedback, and making corrections if their discourse is used in conjunction with clear conducting gestures that the students understand.