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Gesture as a communicative tool in vocal pedagogy

Katty Kochman (UGent) , Dirk Moelants (UGent) and Marc Leman (UGent)
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Abstract
Background in qualitative performance analysis. Gesture has an impact on the expression and communicative process. It is through the use of gesture that inner cognitive processes are translated into external form. These gestures can be thematically coded to elucidate the information transmission system, in which gesture plays an active constructive role linking thought and gesture. The implications of these ideas are critical when understanding music performance and vocal pedagogy. Vocal instruction utilizes gesture to express images that cannot be expressed in speech. Within this context speech and gesture must cooperate to express the person’s meaning. (McNeill, 2003) Background in embodied music education. Gestural patterns associated with cognitive processing were observed. Often a gesture was used to elucidate the initial presentation of the vocal concept presented by the instructor. The gesture may then reappear, with or without linguistic support, to remind the student of the initial concept during the course of the lesson. Finally, the student themselves utilizes the gesture when applying the new technique, to facilitate implementation and application of embodied understanding. Aims. This research project focuses on how interpretive gesture enhances understanding of musical expression and vocal techniques in musical instruction. Interpretive gesture is a gesture that seeks to communicate to others one’s own understanding and comprehension of an idea to help form a shared understanding. The research presented is guided specifically by the research question of how gesture functions in embodied understanding in vocal pedagogy. Embodied understanding presents a problem in vocal pedagogy. Singing involves complex physiological and psychological processes. A teacher must identify and communicate the intricacies of vocal performance when instructing students. As linguistic communication alone often fails to provide a comprehensive understanding of the intended goal, nonverbal communication tools, such as gestures, may provide valuable assistance in the improvement of vocal performance. Students also need to develop their own understanding. In this case, gesture may function as a form of evaluation, to express understanding of instructional concepts. The results of the current research project may serve to improve musical instruction and enhance understanding of vocal technique; its methods may also be a useful addition to those employed in the analysis of vocal performance in ecologically valid contexts. Main contribution. This paper presents an overview of the methodology and preliminary results of a study examining the use of gestural articulation in vocal pedagogy, considering the topic through the lens of embodied music cognition. Leman (2008) presents a model of musical communication whereby biomechanical energy is encoded and decoded. This model seeks to conceptualize musical communication in terms of interpersonal interaction resulting in an action-reaction cycle involving haptic, sonic, and visual feedback. This model of communication is applied directly to the area of vocal performance and further extended through the application of joint action and schema theories. The integration of these theories came about as the result of observing behavior in voice lessons given by 3 expert teachers to 6 students. The lessons were video-recorded and coded thematically at multiple levels on the basis of previous literature on gestural communication, particularly in vocal pedagogy. In addition discourse analysis (as related to gesture) and questionnaires were utilized for triangulation, to increase the validity of the researcher’s findings and to check for the relevance of the conclusions of the study. Implications. These preliminary data were used to develop a theoretical model on which to base further research. In the voice lessons, it was found that communicative efficiency in the voice lesson is enhanced through gestural interaction, specifically as a representation of internal physiological processes, joint action, and intentional matching. Communicative interaction through gestural chaining and replication of gesture assisted in communicating the embodied intentions of the participants in the voice lesson and refinement of the students’ musical performance.
Keywords
Gesture, Embodied Music Cognition, Vocal Pedagogy, Human Communication

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Chicago
Kochman, Katty, Dirk Moelants, and Marc Leman. 2014. “Gesture as a Communicative Tool in Vocal Pedagogy.” Ed. Nick Bailey and Jane Ginsborg. Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies 6 (2): 233–250.
APA
Kochman, K., Moelants, D., & Leman, M. (2014). Gesture as a communicative tool in vocal pedagogy. (N. Bailey & J. Ginsborg, Eds.)JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY MUSIC STUDIES, 6(2), 233–250.
Vancouver
1.
Kochman K, Moelants D, Leman M. Gesture as a communicative tool in vocal pedagogy. Bailey N, Ginsborg J, editors. JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY MUSIC STUDIES. 2014;6(2):233–50.
MLA
Kochman, Katty, Dirk Moelants, and Marc Leman. “Gesture as a Communicative Tool in Vocal Pedagogy.” Ed. Nick Bailey & Jane Ginsborg. JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY MUSIC STUDIES 6.2 (2014): 233–250. Print.
@article{4371041,
  abstract     = {Background in qualitative performance analysis. Gesture has an impact on the expression and communicative process. It is through the use of gesture that inner cognitive processes are translated into external form. These gestures can be thematically coded to elucidate the information transmission system, in which gesture plays an active constructive role linking thought and gesture. The implications of these ideas are critical when understanding music performance and vocal pedagogy. Vocal instruction utilizes gesture to express images that cannot be expressed in speech. Within this context speech and gesture must cooperate to express the person{\textquoteright}s meaning. (McNeill, 2003) Background in embodied music education. Gestural patterns associated with cognitive processing were observed. Often a gesture was used to elucidate the initial presentation of the vocal concept presented by the instructor. The gesture may then reappear, with or without linguistic support, to remind the student of the initial concept during the course of the lesson. Finally, the student themselves utilizes the gesture when applying the new technique, to facilitate implementation and application of embodied understanding. Aims. This research project focuses on how interpretive gesture enhances understanding of musical expression and vocal techniques in musical instruction. Interpretive gesture is a gesture that seeks to communicate to others one{\textquoteright}s own understanding and comprehension of an idea to help form a shared understanding. The research presented is guided specifically by the research question of how gesture functions in embodied understanding in vocal pedagogy. Embodied understanding presents a problem in vocal pedagogy. Singing involves complex physiological and psychological processes. A teacher must identify and communicate the intricacies of vocal performance when instructing students. As linguistic communication alone often fails to provide a comprehensive understanding of the intended goal, nonverbal communication tools, such as gestures, may provide valuable assistance in the improvement of vocal performance. Students also need to develop their own understanding. In this case, gesture may function as a form of evaluation, to express understanding of instructional concepts. The results of the current research project may serve to improve musical instruction and enhance understanding of vocal technique; its methods may also be a useful addition to those employed in the analysis of vocal performance in ecologically valid contexts. Main contribution. This paper presents an overview of the methodology and preliminary results of a study examining the use of gestural articulation in vocal pedagogy, considering the topic through the lens of embodied music cognition. Leman (2008) presents a model of musical communication whereby biomechanical energy is encoded and decoded. This model seeks to conceptualize musical communication in terms of interpersonal interaction resulting in an action-reaction cycle involving haptic, sonic, and visual feedback. This model of communication is applied directly to the area of vocal performance and further extended through the application of joint action and schema theories. The integration of these theories came about as the result of observing behavior in voice lessons given by 3 expert teachers to 6 students. The lessons were video-recorded and coded thematically at multiple levels on the basis of previous literature on gestural communication, particularly in vocal pedagogy. In addition discourse analysis (as related to gesture) and questionnaires were utilized for triangulation, to increase the validity of the researcher{\textquoteright}s findings and to check for the relevance of the conclusions of the study. Implications. These preliminary data were used to develop a theoretical model on which to base further research. In the voice lessons, it was found that communicative efficiency in the voice lesson is enhanced through gestural interaction, specifically as a representation of internal physiological processes, joint action, and intentional matching. Communicative interaction through gestural chaining and replication of gesture assisted in communicating the embodied intentions of the participants in the voice lesson and refinement of the students{\textquoteright} musical performance.},
  articleno    = {12060206},
  author       = {Kochman, Katty and Moelants, Dirk and Leman, Marc},
  editor       = {Bailey, Nick and Ginsborg, Jane},
  issn         = {1307-0401},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY MUSIC STUDIES},
  keyword      = {Gesture,Embodied Music Cognition,Vocal Pedagogy,Human Communication},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {12060206:233--12060206:250},
  title        = {Gesture as a communicative tool in vocal pedagogy},
  url          = {http://www.musicstudies.org/JIMSvol6issue2PRINT/Kochman\_JIMS\_12060206.pdf},
  volume       = {6},
  year         = {2014},
}