Factors affecting performance proficiency : a case study involving intermediate piano students
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The goal of this study was to determine the effect of a number of factors on the performance proficiency of three intermediate piano students having different learning styles, all of whom shared the same teacher. Four sets of data were collected in this investigation: the methodology of the teacher; the practice behaviour of the participants; the effect of intrinsic factors, such as participant attitude, motivation, and ownership of learning; and the effect of extrinsic factors that included parental influence, and participants' school- and employment-related responsibilities. Performance proficiency and assessment of practice behaviour were measured by three external, professionallyqualified music examiners. Performance proficiency varied to some extent between participants, but they shared similar practice behaviours. Learning style does not, therefore, affect practice behaviour. Although they planned their practice time, participants did not show much evidence of monitoring the quality of their practice. On the other hand, participants showed positive attitude; they were motivated to learn; and they were observed to plan their practice time, all indicators of, among other things, positive influence of the teacher and parents. Participants showed evidence that these constructive habits were a denominator common to both their schoolwork and piano practice. It was apparent that, except for learning style, all factors examined had an effect on performance proficiency. Performance proficiency is, therefore, influenced by a large web of factors, a finding that is instructive for classroom teachers. Teachers need to avoid the temptation to teach toward performance expectations. Emphasis should be placed instead on teaching and assessing formative learning strategies.