Monday, December 13, 2010


Hewitt, M. P. "Self-Evaluation Accuracy among High School and Middle School Instrumentalists." Journal of Research in Music Education 53.2 (2005): 148-161.

This article discusses several studies that attempt to explain similarities and differences in Self-Evaluation Accuracy between Middle School and High School instrumentalist. Hewitt describes the need for further education of adult musicians after secondary schools and makes a connection to teaching students to accurately self-evaluate their performances. The study included statistical data, charts and graphs all representing students accuracy of self-evaluation over time. The purpose and reasoning behind this study is clear that the earlier students start self-evaluating themselves, the more accurate they become.

I had a few problems with the study as there was not much information about how and where the students used in the study came from. What was the background of the students? What school district were they from? How many years of experience do they have? Did they take private lessons or were they only in public school courses? These questions are important in understanding the make up of the student samples that were collected for the study. I feel that students with a vast array of knowledge and experience could definitely "skew" the study either in either direction.

The Questions that that the article attempts to answer directly are:

1. Do grade-level (middle/high school) differences exist on self- evaluation tendencies over time?

2. Do grade-level differences and evaluator (student/expert) differences exist, alone and in combination, on music performance evaluation?

3. What relationships exist between student self-evaluation and expert evaluations of music performance by grade level?

4. Do differences exist between grade level and music perfomance subarea (tone, intonation, melody, etc.) on self-evaluation accuracy?

All of these questions address important aspects of developing musicianship and lead me to further ponder whether Hewitt's intentions were merely to add emphasis on an aspect of musicianship that has gone "unnamed" for years in our industry. I think of a scene from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" in which he is sqweaking and squaking on a clarinet, and when he's finished he smiles at the camera and says with a grin. "...and not one lesson!" sarcastically implying that he was an expert clarinetist. How do students, and musicians learn to understand what sounds unacceptable, acceptable, exceptional and every level in between. Defining proper characteristic tone qualities is definitely a learned and subjective skill that is developed over time with support, coaching and modeling from a variety of resources. I think this skill is something that students silently acquire and that we haven't really addressed as an important area of study for musicians however Hewitt defines it well and sheds light on the importance of its development in musicians.

If music educators truly wish for adults to become independent practitioners of music throughout their lives, then methods that help students develop self-regulation abilities (including self-evaluation) need to be incorporated into the curriculum of school music programs. (161)

Elliott (1995) proposes that the profession should focus on teaching students how to continue developing their musicianship once their schooling ends. (149)

Others suggest that the schools should enable students to "function effectively as adults and to contribute to society in today's world and tomorrow's and that music educators must join with others in providing opportunities for meaningful music instruction for all people beginning at the earliest possible age and continuing throughout life. (149)

Most findings suggest that music students are inconsistent in evaluations of their own performances (Bergee, 1993,

1997; Hewitt, 2002; Kostka, 1997) (152)

Furthermore, middle school students, when asked to evaluate their own pitch and rhythmic performance, were better able to identify pitch errors during live performance than during recorded performance, but identified rhythm errors similarly in both live and recorded mediums (153)

This study was an examination of (a) whether grade-level differences exist on self-evaluation tendencies over time, (b) if grade-level differences and evaluator differences exist, alone and in combination, on music performance evaluation, (c) if relationships exist between student self-evaluation and expert evaluations of music performance

by grade level, and (d) whether differences exist between grade level and music performance subarea (tone, intonation, melody, etc.) on self-evaluation accuracy.(153)

Perceptions of abilities during opening performances could be different than future performances for these sub-areas. Perhaps middle school students felt it was acceptable for them to be average during their initial performance, but it is interesting that high school students did not seem to feel this way.(154)

These results may offer insight into the areas where students focus their self-evaluative attention during performance and might provide instrumental music teachers with a better sense of how to help students focus on various aspects of their own performance. (155)

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