Critical Reflection as a Tool for Self-regulation on Children ́s Instrumental Teaching: A Qualitative Study in the Context of Individual Violin Lessons

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Background Mastering a musical instrument is a challenging cognitive task for both students and teachers. Devising ways to promote knowledge, practices, and attitudes towards a more efficient learning process requires an effort and (self) reflection regarding the teaching input. Teachers who encourage self-regulated learning, emphasize students’ autonomy and self-controlling behaviors, strategic monitoring, and regulation of actions toward goals, and self- improvement (Paris & Paris, 2001). Furthermore, it is supposed that a teacher who expects the construction of study habits based on self-regulation skills from students, holds those same skills (Eekelen, Boshuizen, & Vermunt, 2005). Due to their own development of self-regulated learning, self-regulated teachers can understand better the development of students' learning strategies and to recognize and deal with the specific needs and obstacles that students may face to become more efficient (Paris & Winograd, 2003). Considering individual violin lessons as a supportive educational context, the teacher can play a decisive role by stimulating and promoting self-regulated learning strategies, especially with beginning learners. Moreover, teacher’s critical reflection might act as a tool for professional improvement and towards the establishment of effective teaching practices. Aim This study seeks to articulate teaching strategies and verbal instructions using the cyclical model of self-regulated learning theory (Zimmerman, 2000). It aims to analyze and extract classroom events that suggest a possible approach to promote self-regulation among students. Method Two eleven-year-old students and the first author as the violin teacher participated in this study. The students have been involved in violin learning within the context of a project of social inclusion through music in Lisbon (Portugal). The first author has been their teacher since their enrollment in the project. Data collected in this study corresponds to students’ second year of violin learning. They have acquired reasonable skills in musical reading, posture, and sound quality. The students also manifest positive learning behaviors, interest in learning violin, although their study habits are still inconsistent. Four individual lessons, 45 minutes each, were video-recorded over two weeks. Data analysis was conducted using MaxQda software, version 20. A total of twenty-nine rehearsal frames (Duke, 1999) were identified. Each frame corresponds to one purpose theme, such as right hand, left hand, musical, and others. Each rehearsal frame was coded using an observation grid developed by the first author, which consists of four main categories: self-regulated learning, teacher verbalizations, teaching strategies, and students' in-class performance. An experienced violin teacher coded five random selected rehearsal frames. She had access to a detailed explanation of each code and pointed out the presence of specific codes in that sample. Results Results highlight the influence of verbal instructions as a stimulus to cognitive self-regulation actions. For example, rehearsal frame 5, lasts six minutes and corresponds to the purpose theme “musical”. It aims to improve intonation and sound quality when playing the piece Minuet nr. 2 by J. S. Bach. Different strategies were applied, such as playing harmonic base along with the student, checking the intervals concerning open strings, think on certain notes before playing them, or verify the position of left-hand fingers. The most effective strategy was singing melodic patterns which needed improvement. In this way the student internalizes them and becames more conscious of the desirable Marija Mihajlovic Pereira 1, Ana Isabel Pereira 2, João Nogueira 3 1,2 LAMCI-CESEM, NOVA School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Portugal 3 LAMCI-CESEM, Department of Musical Sciences, NOVA School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Portugal 1, 2, 3 musical results. Another example, rehearsal frame 25 has a duration of four minutes and corresponds to the purpose theme “right hand”. Using the G major scale exercise, the teacher suggested the student to place the bow on the string before starting each note downbow, and at the same time to check the right-hand posture and think on the certain word before resuming the next note in the sequence. In this case, the strategy that promoted self-regulation was the association of a particular word within a certain action. A word, easy to remember, helped the student to control and monitor movement, improving hand posture in each attempt. Conclusions Detailed observation of one-to-one violin lessons allowed to highlight issues that might lead to instrumental teaching improvement. Considering the results in the light of the cyclical model of self-regulated learning theory (Zimmerman, 2000), we point out a critical reflection: (i)an approach to identify the goals more explicitly should be considered (forethought phase), (ii) perceived use of strategies that promote greater body awareness, such as, associate particular words within a certain action and encourage the student to “think in mind” and, “think before playing” (performance phase) and, (iii) frequent posing of questions that might reassure student’s awareness of problematic points (self-reflection phase). In this study, the first author ́s dual role suggests a possible approach for a teaching self-reflection process using classroom videos to extract and analyze critical events to grow professionally. Conclusions attempt to clarify attitudes, quality, and clarity of teacher instructions, besides visualizing gaps in teacher practices that could be targeted and strengthened in future work. References Paris, S. G., & Paris, A. H. (2001). Classroom applications of research on self-regulated learning. Educational Psychologist, 36(2), Keywords: Violin teaching strategies, Violin lessons, Self-regulated learning, Observation grid Eekelen, I. M., Boshuizen, H. P., & Vermunt, J. D. (2005). Self-regulation in higher education teacher learning. Higher Education, 50(3), 447-471. doi:10.1007/s10734-004-6362-0 Duke, R. A. (1999). Measures of instructional effectiveness in music research. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, (143), 1-48. Retrieved from 89-101. doi:10.1207/s15326985ep3602_4 Paris, S. G., & Winograd, P. (2003). The role of self-regulated learning in contextual teaching: Principles and practices for teacher preparation. A commissioned paper for the Department of Education Project, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Washington, DC. Retrieved from Zimmerman, B. J. (2000). Attaining self-regulation: A social-cognitive perspective. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 13–39). San Diego, CA: Academic Press. 012109890-2/50031-7
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021
Event16th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition: Connectivity and diversity in music cognition - Sheffield, United Kingdom
Duration: 28 Jul 202131 Oct 2021
Conference number: 16


Conference16th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition
Abbreviated titleICMPC16-ESCOM11
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Violin teaching strategies
  • Violin lessons
  • Self-regulated learning
  • Observation grid


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