Middle school band students' preferences for familiar and unfamiliar blues/swing style melodies when performed with and without improvisation after learning to play Cage full o' blues
The purpose of this study was to examine whether middle school band students (N = 30) who learned to thoroughly perform a simple swing/blues-style melody would indicate a preference for familiar and unfamiliar melodies performed with and without improvisation. Twelve participants learned to play Cage Full O' Blues in 12 keys without accompaniment over a 24-day treatment period. Twenty-four scripted lessons based on teacher-led imitation were used to gradually guide the students toward mastery. A second group of 18 students functioned as a comparison group. After the treatment group completed the lessons, participants listened to computer generated swing/blues-style performances of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star; Cage Full O' Blues (CFOB); and Mack the Knife with a simple jazz combo accompaniment and simultaneously manipulated a Continuous Response Digital Interface to indicate degree of preference and overall familiarity. Results revealed that students in both groups indicated a preference for listening to familiar melodies when presented without improvisation. The group that learned to play CFOB recognized the non-improvised performance of CFOB and indicated significantly higher preferences than the comparison group. Both groups recognized and preferred listening to Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star without improvisation. Neither group preferred or recognized the unfamiliar Mack the Knife melody. Generally, improvised versions of any of the three melodies used in the study were not preferred or recognized by either group regardless of treatment.