This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Aural Skills Pedagogy in the Wind Band: A Survey of Secondary and Collegiate Wind Band Conductors’ Perceptions and Strategies




McNeil, Brady

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Curriculum and Teaching


The purpose of this study was to explore (a) perceptions of collegiate and high school wind band conductors surrounding aural-based learning in the rehearsal, (b) current trends in pedagogical strategies used to strengthen listening skills via the wind band rehearsal, and (c) to determine how wind band conductors’ general attitudes regarding aural skills may influence the integration of aural skills into their rehearsals. Research supports aural skills as a valuable and critical component of a musician’s training. However, these skills are often not introduced until college, and typically through aural skills courses offered only to music majors (Bernhard, 2003; Paney, 2007). I used a quantitative descriptive method for this study and selected participants using convenience and snowball sampling. Participants provided responses to an online researcher-developed survey instrument. The survey contained several sets of questions designed to collect respondents’ (a) perspectives on aural skills in the wind band, (b) attitudes regarding students’ aural skills abilities, (c) strategies and resources for integrating aural skills in the wind band, (d) barriers to integrating aural skills, and (e) demographic information. I recruited secondary and collegiate wind band conductors to participate in the study. Members of the Collegiate Band Directors National Association (CBDNA), National Association for Music Education (NAfME), and Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) were recruited through email. Of those invited, 381 responded and 214 of these responses were usable. The following overarching research questions were established to explore conductors’ interactions with aural skills: 1. To what extent is integrating aural skills in the wind band rehearsal important to wind band conductors? 2. What strategies are most used in the wind band rehearsal to improve aural skills, and how much of rehearsal time is dedicated to this endeavor? 3. How do wind band conductors perceive their students’ aural skills abilities? 4. Will there be any significant differences in responses to survey questions based on participants’ demographic variables? Data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. A significant bivariate regression model indicated that general attitudes regarding aural skills could predict the extent to which participants integrated aural skills in their rehearsals. Students’ abilities to detect errors in their practice and performance was reported as the most important skill contributing to the success of wind bands. Participants most often incorporated singing and modeled aural concepts with their voices. There was no significant interaction between amount of rehearsal time and aural skills integration. There was a significant correlation between how often conductors integrated aural skills and their perceptions of students’ aural abilities. Results of the MANOVAs and one-way ANOVAs revealed significant differences in responses to survey items based on teaching area, geographical region, degree level, and years of teaching experience. Recommendations for future research include replicating this study with a stratified sample and exploring aural skills interaction using qualitative methodology. I also recommend researching aural skills training for students with hearing impairments. Lastly, future research should continue to narrow the gap in literature on the effectiveness of various aural-based instructional strategies on wind band achievement. The results of this study could inform wind band conductors about trends in aural skills pedagogy, provide additional resources for integrating aural skills training in the ensemble, and hopefully elevate students’ understanding, appreciation, and emotional connection to the music.