Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Conducting pronunciation instruction . . . kinematically

Clip art: Clker
Photo courtesy of TherapyToronto 
Ever wondered how orchestra conductors are able to get really great music out of their orchestras? Now we know. The secret is apparently in the baton! In a 2012 study by Luciano Fadiga of the University of Ferrara and colleagues, as summarized on the TherapyTornto blog, (or in the original study, here) it was found that " . . . the performance was considered higher quality when the movements of the conductor and musicians were more closely correlated . . . "specifically related to the strength of the coordination between the violinists' bows and the baton of the conductor. Use a "baton" much in your teaching? Not the baton pictured off to the left but a "baton," as defined in nonverbal research, a baton-like gesture on a word that increases emphasis or loudness. You probably do it all the time, if not holding a pencil then just with your hand "beating" out the stressed syllable of a word in the air--or on the desk. One of the most effective EHIEP pedagogical movement patterns, in fact, uses an actual baton or something similar, such as a chopstick or big pencil. In one application of the technique, students move their "batons" along with their instructors, embodying a couple dozen rhythm patterns and intonation contours, along with anchoring stressed syllables. Later, students use the baton to assist them in studying and anchoring bits of language of varying sizes and intensities. What the research suggests is that the baton practice, itself, with learners closely mirroring instructor baton movements may enhance both the expressiveness of the language being targeted and the relationship between leader and followers. Must "conduct" some research on that, myself!

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