Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Cohen, Mary L

First Committee Member

Adamek, Mary

Second Committee Member

Gfeller, Kate

Third Committee Member

Heidel, Richard M

Fourth Committee Member

Wesely, Pamela


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to provide insight into affective learning during seventh-grade students' early experiences of improvising and spontaneously creating melodies in jazz style. As data collection progressed, the instructor's focus of engaging students to learn improvisation through anxiety-based affective strategies became the transforming factor of this qualitative study. Subsequently, the overarching research question evolved into: What is the nature of affective teaching and learning during students' early experiences of improvising and spontaneously creating melodies in jazz style, where the instructor intentionally incorporates affective learning experiences using Wisconsin's Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance model? Supplementary research questions included: (a) How does the teacher navigate teaching and learning experiences that target anxiety during the process of learning to improvise in the jazz band rehearsal? (b) How do the students engage with the instructor's targeted teaching strategies in the jazz band setting? (c) How do the students perceive the implementation of teaching and learning experiences created by the teacher?

The seventh-grade jazz band director and six seventh-grade jazz students (three girls and three boys with one set of triplets) from a Midwest middle school music program participated. Data collection occurred during the 2011 - 2012 school year. Data included three semi-structured interviews, rehearsal observations over four months, and the instructor's Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance (CMP) teaching plan.

Using MacIntyre, Potter, and Burns' (2012) socio-educational model for music motivation, an adaptation of Robert Gardner's socio-educational model of motivation in second language acquisition, I applied the model's categories--(a) anxiety, (b) integrativeness, (c) attitudes toward the learning situation, (d) motivation, and (e) perceived competence--to my data. Because MacIntyre, et al. (2012) identified anxiety as an outcome that significantly and negatively predicted perceived competence through their quantitative study, I analyzed the instructor's teaching and learning strategies that targeted anxiety and the students' perceptions of their own anxiety while learning to solo improvise.

The findings in this study revealed how an instructor integrated anxiety-inducing experiences in a manner that positively influenced student motivation. The progression began with game-like solo improvisation experiences and developed into unanticipated improvised solos assigned by the instructor. By incorporating teaching and learning strategies that incrementally increased anxiety within the learning situation context, anxiety as a negative outcome (MacIntyre's et al., 2012) transformed into positive experiences. The students gradually became comfortable with the emotion of anxiety, began to take risks and, ultimately, developed more interest to continue learning and improvising.


Affective Learning, Anxiety, Comprehensive Musicianship, Jazz, Middle School, Motivation


viii, 167 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 150-167).


Copyright 2014 Tamara Tanya Thies

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