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The Incorporation of Error Detection Methods in Undergraduate Instrumental Conducting Courses: A Mixed Methods Investigation




McCullough, Chapel

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Curriculum and Teaching


Error detection is an important skill for conductors and there have been many studies investigating factors that affect error detection ability. Although error detection method books have been developed, there is little research on the actual incorporation of these methods in conducting courses. This mixed-method study examined the incorporation of error detection methods in undergraduate instrumental conducting courses, as well as the attitudes of conducting instructors toward error detection skills. The target population was current or former instructors of undergraduate instrumental conducting courses. Phase 1 consisted of an online survey, which was sent out to 961 members of CBDNA (College Band Directors National Association). Seventy-one responses were recorded. For Phase 2, seven open-ended phone interviews were conducted with volunteers from the online surveys. Results from the surveys and interviews indicated that most instructors believed that error detection ability is an important skill for conductors and should be included in conducting courses. However, only 67.2% (n=39) of survey respondents included error detection methods in their courses. The MLR Instrumental Score Reading Program by Froseth and Grunow (1979) was the most widely used method book, but the data collected from the written portion of the survey show that the actual incorporation of this method varied greatly. Data collected from the phone interviews reveal that there are many factors that limit the ability to fully incorporate error detection instruction. The biggest issue is time. Based on the experiences of the participants, undergraduate conducting courses are typically designed as 2-hour credit courses and these instructors have trouble fitting aural skills development into their course design. These participants also described the need for more options in error detection methods. Implications for this study include the need for further research into the incorporation of error detection methods in conducting courses. There is a need to investigate the justification for modifying current degree programs to include required advanced conducting courses, which would allow for more in-depth training in areas such as aural skills. Also, data from these discussions show that a major concern among conducting instructors is the confidence levels held by their students regarding aural ability, particularly when they reach their first year of teaching or internship. There is room for research into the self-assurance of young conductors and factors that may affect confidence levels. Finally, there is a calling for the development of a more practical error detection methods program that can be easily and effectively implemented into undergraduate instrumental conducting courses.