Online and Face-to-Face Voice Instruction: Effects on Pitch Accuracy Improvement in Female Voice Majors

Online and Face-to-Face Voice Instruction: Effects on Pitch Accuracy Improvement in Female Voice Majors

Mindy Damon (Liberty University, USA) and Amanda J. Rockinson-Szapkiw (University of Memphis, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5109-6.ch002
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Traditionally, post-secondary-level voice training has relied upon face-to-face interaction. Concerns about the viability of the online environment to facilitate the interaction needed to teach discipline-specific vocal skills has delayed adoption of online voice teaching in online music programs. This chapter discusses online and face-to-face voice instruction and presents evidence of a research study examining the two delivery methods. The study examined the difference in pitch accuracy improvement scores of 78 female collegiate voice majors at a large university in the mid-Atlantic United States in an effort to determine efficacy of online voice instruction and traditional face-to-face voice instruction according to pitch accuracy improvement. These results demonstrate that no significant difference was found between pitch accuracy improvement scores of 37 voice majors trained and tested online versus 41 voice majors tested face-to-face, suggesting that online voice training is as effective as traditional face-to-face voice training pertaining to pitch accuracy instruction.
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Much of the literature concerning online music programs focuses on technological and pedagogical advantages of the distance model. Institutions of higher education seeking a competitive edge are increasingly exploring online options for course offerings. When examining online music curricula in online music degrees however, it is clear that applied voice instruction is not included as an online course in most programs of study, and further noted is the need for pedagogy development for online voice teaching.

Early research in the field of private voice instruction was sparse, likely due to a stigma that was attached to studio instruction by early researchers, as it was declared to be a “deviant educational tradition” (Schön, 1983, p. 56). According to Schön, “Human phenomena that could not be observed or measured were not worth pursuing” (p. 2143). Studio instruction research has since earned a place in research as an excellent laboratory for the study of the voice, likely due to Bloom (1985), Madsen (1985), and Yarborough’s (1996) earlier literature refuting Schön’s view, and establishing the worthiness vocal research. Early studies by Grant and Drafall (1991) drew attention to the need for research to support systematic instruction methods in the voice studio.

Since this time, many studies have been conducted on voice instruction and methods in the vocal studio (Erickson-Levendoski & Sivasanker, 2011; Morrow & Connor, 2011; Patel, Bless & Thibeault, 2011; Staes, Jansen, Vilette, Coveliers, Daniels & Decoster, 2011; Van Houtte, Claeys, Wuyts & Van Lierde, 2011; Zimmer-Nowicka & Henryka, 2011). While there is a growing body of literature concerning applied voice teaching, there is clearly a need for research focused on the pedagogy development for online voice teaching as online programs become more popular (Allen & Seaman, 2013).

According to the literature, modern higher education has the following three chief characteristics: (a) modernization of teaching methods, (b) innovation of teaching expressions, and (c) management reformation (Ruiji, 2012). Yet, the academy at large, and perhaps the majority of music educators themselves, have not fully embraced online education for music degrees (Herman, 2013; Rees, 2002; Riley, MacLeod, & Libera, 2014;); and even more resistance exists specifically concerning the viability of online applied lessons in higher education.

According to Rees (2002), music educators have been slower than those in other fields of study to explore distance education as a viable option despite the research that has demonstrated that here is little difference between online education and traditional face-to-face education (Russell, 1999; U.S. Department of Education, 2010). Online voice instruction in higher education presents considerable obstacles that prevent most music programs from offering online voice training, as the prevailing academic culture remains loyal to tradition. These obstacles, if left undiscussed and unexplored, will become barriers in the future development of online music programs.

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