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New Horizons Research Citations and Abstracts

Find research citations and abstracts on this page. Click any entry for a short summary of the article. To see the entire article, you are invited to visit the appropriate publication’s web site. You may have to subscribe to the publication (for a possible fee), or in some cases purchase the printed publication, to read the entire article.

If you are involved in a research project related to the New Horizons program, we would like to share your work with our readers. Please send an abstract, similar to those that you find on this page, to Dr. Debbie Rohwer, Chair of the Division of Music Education at the University of North Texas. Dr. Rohwer has a considerable involvement in New Horizons as the music director of the Denton New Horizons Band. By request of Dr. Roy Ernst, Dr. Rohwer has assumed the role of “Research Coordinator” for New Horizons International Music Association.


Rohwer, D. (2017). The social nature of band participation: Perceptions and program development. Journal of Band Research, 53(1) (currently in press for 2017 publication).

The purpose of the current study was to improve social benefits from band participation, approached through an action research lens.  The process used to achieve that goal was to (a) gather social activity perceptions via a questionnaire from the adult band members, (b) engage band members in authentic social activities that they determined to be valuable, and (c) determine whether the group perceived a greater social connection. The 75 participants were a convenience sample of members of an adult New Horizons band.  Band members answered 28 questionnaire items, and then planned and reflected on activities to encourage social engagement.  Based on the survey research data, the following steps were followed as an action plan: (a) use name tags, (b) develop a getting-to-know-you document, (c) have an informal get-together, and (d) start chamber music sessions.

Dyer, W. L. (2016). Development and maintenance of identity in aging community music participants (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database. (UMI No. 10135048). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1802533260/previewPDF/B75B090152084E1EPQ/6?accountid=7113

This ethnographic study contextualized identity development and maintenance within the field of community music through case studies of four performing groups and interviews with seven current members. The underlying question guiding this research was how does participatory music making contribute to the development and maintenance of identity in older adult community musicians? This research was positioned in the milieu of four nonformal community musicensembles in the Pacific Northwestern United States: the Tacoma Concert Band, the South Puget Sound New Horizons Band, Samba OlyWA, and the Artesian Rumble Arkestra. While nuances were evident in the characteristics, ideals, instructional praxis, and values of each ensemble, regardless of the setting (traditional versus nontraditional), results indicate participants developed social, musical, and group identity through community music participation. Results showed that participants created social identities through social learning by modeling group behaviors and practices, and displayed role identities based on positions held within their ensembles. Meanings for these roles may have been altered by participants’ previous experiences—such as a hiatus from playing—or by the nature of their respective ensembles, the inclusiveness of the ensemble, or the perceived level or purpose of the ensemble. Participants cherished the social connections made through their ensembles. Group membership opened doors to allow them to interact with other people with the same passion, helped to build confidence through compliments, energize social justice and community matters and events, sustain a passion for rhythm and harmony, maintain and refresh knowledge of music, preserve the joy in playing an instrument, develop self-satisfaction in playing music, and build memory. Participants agreed they were music-makers; however, each held a different meaning for the role of musician. Most participants identified as a musician with a qualified response of but: …I’m not very good; …I’m only a beginner; et cetera. Limitations for self-identification as a musician included a lack of interest or time for practice, viewing participation as a hobby, or a greater focus on social activism, inclusion, or community over performance.

Rohwer, D. (2016). A narrative investigation of adult music engagement. International Journal of Music Education, Online First, doi:10.1177/0255761416667466

The purpose of the current study was to describe the musical life experiences of an active, adult community musician through a narrative investigation. Jon is a musically-engaged retired instrumentalist who shares a trust and respect relationship with the researcher. Through data sources of observations, interviews, emails, journals, and pictures, the story of Jon’s musical past and present was portrayed. Jon has a past as a developing musician who had an extensive family background and support system in music; his present represents a dedicated musician who takes on varied roles across ensembles, and who collaborates with others in musical relationships. This story of an engaged musician in the community may have implications for community musicians and teachers.

Rohwer, D. (2016). Encouraging “dependence” in adult concert band settings. International Journal of Community Music, 9(2), 171–178. doi:https://doi.org/10.1386/ijcm.9.2.207_1

Debbie Rohwer started the Denton New Horizons Band in 1998 and over the years she has reflected on adult music education, and also completed research studies about which instructional techniques might work best for adult learners. The following article is a description of some of the techniques that have worked well in her setting, and the ideas are presented with the hope that directors can envision new, contextual, beneficial techniques to use in their own community settings.

Valerio, W., Lane, J. S., & Williams, L. R. (2014). Using advanced measures of music audiation among adult amateur instrumental musicians. Research Perspectives in Music Education, 16(2), Winter 2014, 2-15. Retrieved fromhttp://www.ingentaconnect.com/contentone/fmea/rpme/2014/00000016/00000002/art00001

The purpose of this research was to examine the psychometric properties of Advanced Measures of Music Audiation (AMMA) when used with adult amateur instrumental musicians. The investigators administered AMMA to 112 participants. Using scores from the Tonal Test, Rhythm Test, and Total Test, the investigators calculated means, standard deviations, confidence intervals, reliability, item difficulty, and item discrimination values. Results of this study suggest that the tests do not seem to provide reliable measurements of individuals’ music aptitude when administered to this specific population. Item difficulty values indicated that many items were difficult for adult amateur instrumental musicians, and many items did not discriminate well. Revisions to AMMA may make the measure more suitable for use among adult amateur instrumental musicians.

Talbert, M. D. (2012). Adult amateur musicians and melodic error detection (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database. (UMI No. 3561877). Available. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1368146005?accountid=14585

The purpose of this study was to examine influences on melodic error detection ability of adult amateur musicians; specifically, listening-condition, age, and years of experience. Following are the specific research questions of this study: 1) Are there differences in error detection with regard to listening condition? 2) What are the relationships between age and years of experience on error detection ability? 3) What are participants’ perceptions of melodic error detection thought processes? Participants (N=33) met with the investigator individually to complete a melodic error detection task. Each participant listened to three melodies and performed three melodies, noting any perceived melodic errors they may have heard. After providing each participant a 10-second time period to examine the melodic notation, the investigator asked each participant to identify any errors he/she may have perceived in each melody, while either a) listening to the melodies or b) playing the melodies. Participants responded by circling the errors on the error detection form provided by the investigator. Three of the melodies did not contain melodic errors; three melodies contained specific melodic errors (i.e. incorrect interval). Results indicated a high overall success rate in error detection tasks under both listening and playing conditions, although participants tended to be significantly more successful under the playing condition than under the listening condition. Findings of correlations among age and experience suggest no significant influence of these variables on error detection ability. In general, participants’ perception of the difficulty of error detection tasks were not accurate; they tended to perceive tasks as difficult even though they demonstrated high rates of success in locating and identifying melodic errors in both listening and playing conditions.

Rohwer, D. (2013). Making music as an adult: What do the spouses think? Texas Music Education Research.

The purpose of the current study was to describe adult New Horizons band member spouses’ perceptions concerning musical participation. There were 42 participant spouses in the current study who responded to a 23-item questionnaire. Results documented that spouses perceived social and musical benefits from the musicians’ participation in band. The majority of spouses also perceived band to be a positive hobby that improved their relationship with their spouse, although time away for rehearsals was viewed as a negative by some spouses. The only hobbies that were viewed more favorably than band were hobbies that the couples could partake in together. Based on the results, band directors may benefit the musicians in their groups by considering the extended family circumstances of the band members when planning rehearsals, concerts, and group travel since some spouses may perceive time away as having a negative impact on their marriage. Directors may also wish to consider ways to increase opportunities for band member spouses to become involved in band-related activities.

Rohwer, D., Raiber, M. & Coffman, D. (2013). Random or non-random thoughts: What senior adults think about within their ensemble settings. International Journal of Community Music, 5(3), 289-302

The purpose of the current study was to describe band members’ perceptions of important and frustrating issues they experienced in band rehearsals. Musicians (N = 159) from three New Horizons bands from three different states participated in the current study. The four administrations of the two-item questionnaire asked, ‘What was the most important aspect to you in today’s rehearsal’, and, ‘Was anything frustrating or confusing in today’s rehearsal?’ Results highlight the contextual components that the musicians perceived to be important and frustrating in their rehearsal settings. Comments tended to be cogent and focused, and conclusions highlight the possible benefits of using the one-minute assessment process for improving adult community music instruction.

Schlegel, A. & Lane, J. S. (2013) The effect of articulation, pitch register, and melodic context on instrument identification ability of senior adults. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 196, 65-79.

In this exploratory study, members of an adult community band (N=38) completed a listening task in which they attempted to identify instruments performing single-tone excerpts and determine the level of expertise of the performer (professional or beginner). Investigators created two different conditions (tones that included initial attack and tones with sustain only and no initial attack) among tones produced by four different instruments (flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet) on two different pitches (F4 and B-flat4). Results of data analysis indicated that participants were more successful identifying tones that included the initial attack (as opposed to tones consisting of sustain only). Trumpet was the instrument identified accurately most consistently, and participants were more accurate identifying instrument timbre when the pitch was F4 rather than B-flat4. Results indicated significant three-way interactions between pitch, attack presence, and instrument, and also between pitch, expertise, and attack presence. The presence of the initial attack was a significant variable affecting participants’ ability to identify instrumental timbre, a result consistent with findings of previous research. One unique finding suggested that performer expertise did not significantly affect participants’ perception of timbre; findings of previous studies using collegiate-level musicians and non-musicians indicated a significant effect related to performer expertise. Though not significant, a negative correlation (r = -.20) between participants’ age and overall score on the task implies perception may be affected by age.

Lane, J. S. (2012). Engaging preservice music teachers with adult amateur musicians. International Journal of Community Music, 5(3), 317-322.Section

The purpose of this report is to describe a developing model for inclusion of community music as part of the process of music teacher training at an American university. Included in the narrative is an overview of the Congaree New Horizons Band (CNHB) in Columbia, SC, followed by a description of the inclusion of adult music learners in preservice teacher training experiences at the University of South Carolina (USC). The author describes the results from this partnership that have emerged over the past few years, and notes the important, practical benefits to be gained by engaging preservice teachers with populations of learners not associated with the K-12 age range. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications these results may have on future practice.

Rohwer, D. (2012). Going to the source: Pedagogical ideas from adult band members. Journal of Band Research, 48(1), 45-57.n

The purpose of the current study was to describe adult musicians’ perceptions of instructional needs in adult band settings. The participants were 81 adults attending a national New Horizons music camp for adult learners who answered a 5-question open-ended questionnaire. Participants cited the benefit of social interaction, making music in a group, and learning from their adult band experiences. The most common response to the question of how the adults would like to see music instruction changed in the adult setting was that instructors should not treat adults as if they were middle schoolers. In answer to the question of what instructional techniques future teachers of adult musicians should learn about, respondents most commonly noted the need for teachers to balance instruction with encouragement. In answer to the question of what instructional resources future teachers of adult musicians should learn about, respondents most commonly noted health resources. In answer to the question of what adult personality characteristic information future teachers of adult musicians should learn about, respondents most commonly noted patience and being positive and humorous. Conclusions highlight the issues that might be beneficial to address in adult bands and in teacher preparation programs so that adult music settings can be productive and enjoyable experiences.

Tsugawa, S. (2012). Motivation and meaning among members of two senior adult music ensembles. In L.K. Thompson & M.R. Campbell (Eds.) Situating inquiry: Expanded venues for music education research (pp. 179-203). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

The purpose of this study was to investigate music learning, motivation, and meaning construction among members of two senior adult music ensembles. This study employed a qualitative multiple case study design, in which members of a New Horizons band and orchestra located in two different cities were observed and interviewed over a period of several months. Verbatim interview transcripts, field notes and videotaped recordings of imbedded observations, and artifacts served as primary data sources for this study. Findings emerging from the data revealed a social and musical culture where members of both ensembles were motivated to play an instrument in a New Horizons ensemble by: (a) the camaraderie of group music making, including social interaction and shared humor; and (b) the perceived benefits of music making that enhance an improved sense of well- being. In both ensembles, members use music making to facilitate changes in adult roles and identities. The data also illustrated two themes of meaning construction and sense making as: (a) members focused upon music making as a learning process rather than an objective; and (b) used music making to regain a sense of control over their lives amidst the experiences and challenges unique to senior adults.

Douglas, K. A. (2011). A descriptive analysis of the psychological needs of adults participating in music ensembles: A survey of the New Horizons International Music Association ensemble participants (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. AAT3473456.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the extent to which the psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness were satisfied through participation in New Horizons International Music Association ensembles, and to identify the various variables that influence the satisfaction of these needs. The statistical analysis revealed that the demographic make-up of New Horizons International Musicians Association (NHIMA) participants was similar to other community-based music ensembles. Subjects most frequently participated in general music in elementary and band during high school. Band was the most frequently cited out-of-school and current music activity. Scheduling conflicts and music difficulty emerged as potential barriers to participation in community music activities and ensembles. Subjects’ perceptions regarding the benefits of participation were generally positive. Subjects’ psychological needs were all being satisfied to a certain extent by participating in NHIMA ensembles. Participation in band, honor groups, solo and ensemble festival, Garage Bands, ensemble directing, improvisation, ‘family music time,’ class piano, and music technology significantly contributed to satisfaction of psychological needs in the current study ( p ≥ .05). It was concluded that past music experiences as well as formal, informal, and non-formal music participation, and perceptions regarding one’s own abilities contributed to the satisfaction of the psychological needs.

Jutras, P. (2011). The Benefits of New Horizons band participation as self-reported by selected New Horizons band members. Bulletin for the Council of Research on Music Education, 187, 65-84.

New Horizons Band Members (N = 1823) from 28 U.S. States and Canada rated the existence and importance of 42 potential benefits of the New Horizons experience. Benefits were organized into four categories: Health, Personal, Skill, and Social/Cultural. Of these categories, Skill-related benefits were most frequently identified by band members as components of their experiences, followed by Social/Cultural, Personal, and Health benefits, respectively. On ratings of importance, these categories were ranked in the same order. The individual benefits found to have the highest percentages of existence were Accomplishment, Play/Fun, New Friends, Skill Refinement, and Challenge. The individual benefits with the highest ratings of importance were rated much higher than a similar study of adult piano students. Findings suggest that while participants are interested in musical improvement, they also place a high value on Personal and Social benefits provided by the experience.

Coffman, D. D. (2009). Learning from our Elders: Survey of New Horizons International Music Association Band and Orchestra Directors. International Journal of Community Music, 2(2-3), 227-240.

This study analyzed survey responses from 1654 New Horizons International Music Association (NHIMA) musicians to better understand older adults’ experiences in making music and to establish a baseline of data indicating their self-reported health. NHIMA musicians can be typified as approximately 70 years old, of average health, college-educated, with above average incomes, and with previous playing experience on their instruments in high school. They play their instruments on average an hour a day. A more revealing profile emerges from their comments about playing in a NHIMA group. Categorizing their comments reveals that most (74%) of the respondents cite emotional well-being and benefits, followed by physical well-being (24%), cognitive stimulation (21%) and socialization benefits (20%).

Rohwer, D. (2009). Non-Caucasian adult band musicians’ perceptions on band participation. Texas Music Education Research.

The purpose of this study was to describe the perceptions of minority musicians concerning music participation. The complete population of non-Caucasians (N=3) from two adult bands in a southwest state in the United States participated in this study. The three interviewed participants were 1 Chinese female flutist, 1 African-American male euphonium player, and 1 Indian male tenor saxophonist. Across the three participants, the stories highlighted a consistent Americanization trend. From this study’s findings it is clear that further research is needed on retention and attrition of non-Caucasian musicians. It is difficult to tell whether these three participants are still active in instrumental music education because they are passionate about music, persistent, or oblivious to cultural issues.

Rohwer, D. (2009). Adult musicians’ perceived and measured breathing ability. Medical Problems of Performing Artists, 24, 3-7.

The purposes of this study were: (1) to describe the measured breathing abilities of senior adult musicians, (2) to determine any relationship between breathing ability and age, and (3) to determine any perceived and measured differences between senior adult musicians’ breathing scores, before and after a rehearsal. The participants in this study were 57 adult musicians in two senior citizen bands in north Texas. Participants answered perception questions and then completed spirometry tests administered before and after band rehearsals on two occasions throughout a semester. Participants were able to complete the breathing ability measurements, with 74% of the participants measuring in the optimally healthy breathing range. Characteristics of smokers/non-smokers, females/males, and older/younger senior adults were described. There was a significant, moderate, negative correlation between breathing ability and age. Only a very small percentage of participants perceived breathing ability changes from before to after a rehearsal, and breathing ability measurements showed no statistically significant difference from before to after a rehearsal.

Rohwer, D. (2009). Perceived instructional needs and desires of 8th grade and senior citizen band members. Journal of Music Teacher Education, 18(2), 1-12.

The purpose of the current study was to describe and compare adult and middle school perceptions of music education issues, including effective teaching and musical environment. The participants in the study were 94 band members from 3 states. There were 28 middle school band participants from 3 middle schools, and 66 senior citizen band participants from 3 adult bands. Questionnaires were provided to the band members in a band rehearsal. The band members answered a 49-item questionnaire with 26 Likert questions on the topic of effective teaching. While the overall means were high for all component skills, Musical Skills (M = 4.05 +/- .46) were rated lowest, followed by Instructional Skills (M = 4.37 +/- .40) and Personality Characteristics (M = 4.56 +/- .32). Older and younger musicians responded similarly across the Musical, Instructional, and Personality components. Conclusions highlight the collegiate instructional issues that may help to meet the needs of older and younger musicians’ instructional preferences.

Tsugawa, S. (2009). Senior adult music learning, motivation, and meaning construction in two New Horizons ensembles (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. AAT3392131.

The purpose of this study was to investigate music learning, motivations, and meaning construction among members of two senior adult music ensembles. Findings emerging from the data illustrated a social and musical culture defined by the following themes: (a) members’ preferred attributes of conductor-teacher effectiveness; (b) the impact of the sonic qualities of a large ensemble on individual members; (c) individual members’ personal encounters with music making, alone and in a group, and the phenomena affecting those experiences. Members of both ensembles were motivated to play an instrument in a New Horizons ensemble by the camaraderie of group music making, including social interaction and shared humor, and the perceived benefits of music making that enhance an improved sense of well-being. In both ensembles, members use music making to facilitate changes in adult roles and identities. The data illustrated three themes of meaning construction and sense making: (a) members embraced music and music learning as a means to enhance the time they have remaining while engaging in long-term self-directed learning; (b) members focused upon music making as a learning process rather than an objective; and (c) amidst the experience and challenges unique to senior adults, members used music making to regain a sense of control over their lives.

Coffman, D. D. (2008). Survey of New Horizons International Music Association musicians. International Journal of Community Music, 1(3), 375-390.

This study analyzed survey responses from 1652 New Horizons International Music Association (NHIMA) musicians in the United States and Canada to better understand older adults’ experiences in making music. The purpose of this study was threefold: (a) ascertain the extent of NHIMA musicians’ musical backgrounds and their current involvement in music making; (b) determine perceived benefits of music making in NHIMA groups; and (c) establish a baseline for a longitudinal study that monitors NHIMA musicians’ health compared with similar adults who are non-musicians to document relationships between health changes and music making. NHIMA musicians can be typified as approximately 70 years old, almost exclusively Caucasian, of average health, college educated, with above average incomes and with previous playing experience on their instruments in high school. They play their instruments on average for an hour a day. Their comments reveal that most of the respondents cite emotional well-being and benefits, followed by physical well-being, cognitive stimulation and socialization benefits. This large sample study thus corroborates the findings of previous efforts using smaller samples and provides baseline data for future research.

Kruse, N. B. (2008). Andragogy and music: Canadian and American models of music learning among adults. Saarbrücken, Germany: VDM Verlag Dr. Müller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG.

This research is based on inferences derived from ethnographic research conducted with adult students and teachers from the Cosmopolitan Music Society in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and from the New Horizons Band in East Lansing, Michigan. Specifically, this research focuses on (1) telling the stories of Canadian and American adult musicians who have been motivated to perform in an instrumental ensemble, (2) suggesting that what we know and learn about adult learning may be used in fostering pre-adult learning functions among school music students, and (3) providing the impetus for lifelong learning by discussing teaching approaches for bridging the gap between schools and communities. Results indicated that group dynamics were key factors in sustaining music participation. The degree to which individuals were satisfied with musical experiences depended on musical difficulty, instructors’ teaching styles, belonging to a larger community, and a strong awareness of reciprocity. Participants in this study also reported that they continue to search for creative, self-directed ways to overcome issues of time management, as fellow musicians depend on their readiness to perform. Based on these results, I identified several ways in which school teachers can apply lessons drawn from adult learning, including recognizing the need for structured music lessons; acknowledging and embracing the social characteristics of being in a music ensemble; deepening musical awareness through critical thinking activities; decreasing reliance on notation for beginners; encouraging chamber ensemble experiences; investigating ways in which to include non-traditional school music students in music; and encouraging the advancement of community music and the notion of lifelong learning through music participation.

Rohwer, D. (2008). Adult band musicians’ health and wellness issues. Medical Problems of Performing Artists, 23, 54-58.

The purposes of the current study were to describe the perceived health challenges of a group of adult instrumental musicians and to describe possible solutions to the perceived challenges. The participants in the current study were 83 adult Caucasian musicians, aged 47 to 91 (M = 67.65, SD = 8.16) who were attending a national summer senior band camp in the northeast. Visual problems when reading music were noted as the participants’ greatest challenge, followed by finger/joint pain, hearing speech, and hand pain. Visual problems when reading music were a top concern across all instrument subgroups, followed by finger/joint pain for woodwind players, hearing speech for brass players, and both hand and finger/joint pain for percussionists. Accommodations for vision problems most commonly included placing the lens line higher on bifocal lenses so that both the conductor and music could be seen. Accommodations for ailments centered around two general issues: things a musician could buy (e.g., ear plugs, instrument rests, cushions) or things they could do to avoid pain (e.g., education, stretching).

Coffman, D. D. (2007). An exploration of personality traits in older adult amateur musicians. Research and Issues in Music Education, 5(1).

The primary research question for the study was, “Will older adult amateur musicians’ personality profiles reflect the traits found in professional musicians?” Participants (N = 58, ages 52 to 79) recruited from a New Horizons Institute “band camp” for older adult amateur musicians completed a musical background questionnaire and the Cattell (1993) Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire, Fifth Edition (16PF) on their own time during the five-day camp. Group scores for all the 16PF primary and global factor scores were within expected ranges for a normal population of adults, although Factor B (Reasoning) was noticeably higher and Factors E (Dominance), F (Liveliness) and L (Vigilance) were noticeably lower, as was the global factor IN (Independence). This suggests that this sample “leans” toward being more accommodating (IN-), deferential (E-), serious (F-), trusting (L-), and thinking more abstractly (B ) than adults in Cattell’s normative population. The 16 primary and five secondary factors were analyzed using a gender by experience (2 x 2) MANOVA, revealing a significant gender by experience interaction, which was the impetus for follow-up univariate analyses. Three primary factors showed significant between-group differences: L (Vigilance), N (Privateness), and Q1 (Open to Change). Male newcomers were more trusting (L-) and disclosing (N-), although the opposite tendencies were found for male returnees (individuals whose instruments were the ones they had played in high school or college). Female returnees were more open to change than male returnees. A 2 x 2 chi-square analysis of gender by experience revealed that older adult females were more likely to begin a new instrument than were men.

Coffman, D. D. (2006). Voices of experience: Interviews of adult community band members in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia. International Journal of Community Music, D. April 16, 2006.

From March through May 2002, the author traveled from the United States to teach at the University of Tasmania and observe a large community band program in Launceston, Tasmania. The program consists of six bands of increasing musical ability (Beginner through College) and is open to musicians of all ages and abilities. This paper is a summary of observations, a survey (n=90) and interviews (n=12) completed during the author’s stay. Adults who had learned to play their instruments in this program were interviewed to examine their motivations, their hopes, and their frustrations. The paper also describes the pedagogy used in this band program, presenting it as a model for attracting and retaining adult learners in music performance.

Dabback, W. M. (2006). Toward a model of adult music learning as a socially-embedded phenomenon. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music.

This study examines how social interactions and networks may influence, and be influenced by, adults’ music learning in the context of the Rochester New Horizons Band program. Researchers in both music education and adult education have identified a need for greater understanding of the dynamics of group learning and the ways in which adults utilize social networks in their learning pursuits. A phenomenological methodology was employed to investigate these questions in the research setting. Older adults join the Rochester New Horizons program specifically to engage in communal music making, and they cite camaraderie as the greatest benefit of participation in the program. Although identity loss or crisis often occurs after retirement, these adults use their membership in New Horizons to construct new identities and new purpose in life. They consistently express feelings of well-being, which they attribute to participation in New Horizons. This suggests that they have made strong identity commitments, transcended the despair that can accompany older adulthood, and decided to embark on new paths in later life. New Horizons participation appears to meet fundamental human needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness, which elicit intrinsic motivation. Such motivation explains why New Horizons members persist at music learning despite the many challenges it poses. Motivation does not explain, however, what compels New Horizons members to work together and act on behalf of one another; nor does it fully explain the relationship between social interaction and music learning. Reframing learning as praxis, which explains how members develop capacities for judgment about right action, leads to a deeper understanding of members’ experience.

Griffith, M. J. (2006). Personality traits and musical interests of adult learners in an instrumental music program (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. AAT3220366.

The purpose of this study was to assess the needs and musical interests of New Horizons Band members. A secondary purpose was to determine the relationship between personality traits and musical interests. An anonymous Music Interest Questionnaire was used along with the International Personality Item Pool representation of the NEO-PI-R (TM) (IPIP-NEO). Moderate trends were discovered between openness to experience and interest in listening to professionals, listening and playing styles preferences, performing preferences, the importance of lifelong learning, and willingness to participate in rehearsal activities. Moderate trends were discovered between extraversion and willingness to move to music as well as between agreeableness and willingness to sing. Respondents indicated their preferred rehearsal time was morning followed by evening. The greatest physical limitation indicated by subjects was arthritis/rheumatism closely followed by the need for large print music.

Rohwer, D. & Coffman, D. D. (2006). Relationships between wind band membership, activity level, spirituality and quality of life in older adults, Research Perspectives in Music Education, 10, 22-27.

The purposes of the study were: (1) to compare leisure activity (high and low) and participation status (band and non-band) on (a) quality of life and (b) spirituality, and (2) to describe band participants’ perceived health changes since being in a band. Subjects were 480 adults ranging in age from 30-86 from 11 different states. Of the 480 respondents, 269 were New Horizons Band Members and 211 were non-band member friends. There were two measurement instruments in this study: the Quality of Life Scale and the Spirituality Scale. For research question one, significant differences were found on quality of life scores between high and low activity subjects, favoring high activity subjects, and significant differences were found on spirituality scores between band and non-band members, favoring non-band members. All other main effect and interaction tests were found to be non-significant. For research question two, 26 percent (n = 69) of the question respondents noted beneficial changes in their health since starting in their band program, with the most common perceived benefits being improved mental health (35 responses), and improved lung capacity/breathing (24 responses). Sixty-nine percent (n = 185) of the question respondents (n = 269) perceived no changes in their health since beginning in their band program.

Dabback, W. M. (2005). Toward andragogy in music: Examining the gap between theory and emerging practice in the instrumental music education of older adults. International Journal of Community Music.

This article reviews the literature on the art and science of helping adults learn, and the provides questions for the future and ideas for implementation of programs such as: Programs that are created for senior adults need to use participants’ life experiences and pre-existing knowledge as a foundation for teaching and learning. Preferences in music and musical activities need to be investigated to make connections with learners’ needs and perceptions. In addition, there should be an inherent flexibility in design to accommodate people with varied motivations for participation. The educational mission of any particular program must be driven by its participants’ preferences and motivations, and the practices of any single program must be informed by the adaptations that may be necessary due to participants’ characteristics and physical limitations. Teachers need to be prepared to engage students on many different levels, facilitating self-direction, shifting from leader to co-participant, and engaging in praxis throughout the process. The teacher as researcher and facilitator, rather than the teacher as conductor and director, must become the dominant model in musical andragogy.

Rohwer, D. (2005). A case study of adult beginning instrumental practice. Contributions to Music Education, 32(1), 45-58.

The purpose of the current study was to describe the authentic practice behaviors of 3 adult beginning musicians. The 3 participants in this study were all male alto saxophonists in an adult beginning band. The saxophonists were provided with audiotape equipment for at-home practice over a 3-week period. Results of the study showed that the musicians demonstrated a high degree of dedication and cognitive skill in their practice. All 3 musicians spent a large amount of time on purposeful repetition as a rehearsal strategy. The greatest practice challenge for the participants appeared to be their less refined musical error feedback loop.

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Rohwer, D. (2005). Teaching the adult beginning instrumentalist: Ideas from practitioners. International Journal of Music Education, 23(1), 37-47.

The purpose of the study was to describe the current practices (band setup, musical instruction, member interactions, and challenges) of adult beginning instruction in ensemble settings. Subjects in the current study were 35 adult band/orchestra directors from 19 states and 1 province. The responding directors were 24 men and 11 women directors with from between 1 and 12 years of adult ensemble directing experience (median=5). Respondents answered 27 possible questions addressing the current band practices in their setting. Results of the study showed that many of the musical concepts were introduced to the adults with the same types of activities that would be seen in a school ensemble setting, but the way in which information was presented to the adult learners did appear to vary in many ways from the standard “school model”.

The purpose of the study was to describe the current practices (band setup, musical instruction, member interactions, and challenges) of adult beginning instruction in ensemble settings. Subjects in the current study were 35 adult band/orchestra directors from 19 states and 1 province. The responding directors were 24 men and 11 women directors with from between 1 and 12 years of adult ensemble directing experience (median=5). Respondents answered 27 possible questions addressing the current band practices in their setting. Results of the study showed that many of the musical concepts were introduced to the adults with the same types of activities that would be seen in a school ensemble setting, but the way in which information was presented to the adult learners did appear to vary in many ways from the standard “school model”.

Rohwer, D. (2005). Musical expression behaviors of senior citizen musicians. Journal of Band Research, 40(2), 84-95.

The purpose of the study was to investigate senior citizen musicians’ expressive performances. Questions that were addressed included: (1) What do musicians vary in a performance when they are asked to play a melody expressively? (2) Do musicians with more experience vary more and/or different factors than musicians with less experience? (3) What are the musicians’ perceptions of their expressive performances, that is, are they cognizant of the performance changes that they make? The 30 musicians in the study played in a beginner band for older adults. The ages of the participants ranged from 60 to 79. Eighteen of the musicians were labeled as experienced beginners, having played their instrument in some public school music program. Twelve of the musicians were labeled as inexperienced beginners, having started their instrument 2 to 3 years previously as a true senior citizen beginner. The musicians were asked to play one researcher-composed melody on their primary instrument two times, one time steady and devoid of any expression and one time expressively. The musicians were then asked to describe the expressive aspects that they added to the melody in the second performance. Three judges listened to each performance and documented whether they did or did not hear expressive changes from the first to the second performance. Results showed that (1) there were some commonly accepted expressive devices that the musicians tended to use, (2) the musicians with more or less experience seemed to vary the same types of factors, just to different degrees, and (3) the less experienced musicians were as reflective of their expressive choices as the more experienced musicians.

Rohwer, D. (2004). The effect of method book content on adult instrumental musicians’ reported preference and musical understanding. Texas Music Education Research, 2-8.

The purpose of the study was to compare the content of three method books on adult instrumental musicians’ self-reported understanding and enjoyment. The two published method books were chosen based on a past study that cited the Essential Elements 2000 and Standard of Excellence as the two most widely used method books in a study of 35 surveyed adult bands. The researcher formatted a third method book that used music commonly preferred by mature adults (Broadway songs and standards) to teach each of two concepts: cut time and six-eight meter. Results of the study showed that there was no statistically significant difference in the adult musicians’ perceived musical understanding or enjoyment for the three method book formats in either cut-time or six-eight meter. Therefore, there may not be a need for publishers to develop a method book specifically intended for adult musicians.

Coffman, D. D. (2002). Music and quality of life in older adults. Psychomusicology, 18(1-2), 76-88.

This article briefly reviews some basic issues of adult development and measures used in assessing quality of life as a background for reviewing music studies with healthy older adults. Research shows that music activities (both music listening and music making) can influence older adults’ perceptions about the quality of their lives. Some research has examined the effects of music listening on biological markers of health and subjective perceptions of well-being. Other studies on the psychological and social benefits associated with music making activities have demonstrated that participants often pace considerable value on these “nonmusical” benefits of music activity.

Coffman, D. D. (2002). Banding together: New horizons in lifelong music making. Journal of Aging & Identity, 7(2), 133-143.

New Horizons Bands are wind and percussion bands designed for both novice and former musicians over the age of 50. This article describes the Iowa City, Iowa program from the director’s observations and from excerpted comments by participants. Not only does the band program fulfill musical aspirations, but it also provides meaningful interpersonal relationships for the adult learners and their families, the college-aged instructors, and the director.

Coffman, D. D. & Adamek, M. (2001). Perceived social support of New Horizons band participants. Contributions to Music Education, 28(1), 27-40.

Members of a volunteer concert band for retired adults were surveyed to examine the level (belonging, bonding, or binding) and type (instrumental or expressive) of “social support” they received from other band members. Findings indicate that the majority of respondents identified bonding relationships and instrumental support. Their comments also revealed that the band program’s use of homogenous groupings for instruction substantially contributed to the establishment of social groupings, as did the smaller performance bands (polka, swing, and Dixieland).

Coffman, D. D. & Adamek, M. (1999). The contributions of wind band participation to quality of life of senior adults. Music Therapy Perspectives, 17(1), 27-31.

The descriptive study surveyed members (n = 52) of a volunteer wind band for senior citizens in a small Midwestern city. They reported that social interactions, as sense of personal well-being, and accomplishment, and enriching recreational activities were dominant factors in defining quality of life. Furthermore, a desire for active music making was a primary motivator among seniors’ reasons for joining a band program, as was a desire for socialization. Many of the participants in the study considered music making and socialization “very important” or “essential” to their quality of life, rating them as high as family relationships and good health. Prior research among older adults suggests that needs for active recreation and education are two quality of life components not being adequately met. Judging from these participants’ comments and ratings, it would appear that the band program is satisfactorily meeting these “inadequately met” needs, plus it provides socialization benefits as well.

Coffman, D. D. & Schilf, P. (1998). Band instrument gender associations by senior citizen musicians. Southeastern Journal of Music Education, 10, 212-221.

The study examined the beliefs of senior adult musicians about the masculinity/femininity of selected band instruments and the impact of those beliefs on their choice of instrument. Subjects (N = 355) from 10 concert bands, comprised of retired senior citizens performing on either woodwind, brass, or percussion instruments, completed a survey during one of their band’s rehearsals. Mean ratings indicated that seniors viewed most band instruments as masculine, except for flute, oboe, and clarinet. However, mode scores suggested that many considered the instruments to be gender neutral. Most seniors were not aware of gender-based stereotyping when they chose their instrument, and few indicated that this awareness influenced their selection. The primary reason these seniors gave for selecting a specific instrument was that they wanted to try that instrument. Men and women did not essentially differ in their views.

Coffman, D. D. (1996). Musical backgrounds and interests of active older adult band members. Dialogue in Instrumental Music Education, 20(1), 25-34.

This study’s purpose was to survey a group of active senior citizen band members to develop a profile based on prior musical experiences. In particular, two research questions guided the study: (a) What kind of musical experiences did senior citizens have prior to their current band experience? (b) How do senior citizens feel about their current band experiences? The 35 participants in the study were attending a week-long summer band camp for seniors at a resort in the Midwest. For these senior citizens, positive prior instrumental experiences, particularly during the high school years, were linked to their band participation later in life. The amount of time spent in band class did not seem to be related to participation later in life nor did the amount of private study. Prior experience on an instrument did not necessarily mean that the seniors chose to remain with that instrument. Few novices to band were identified, and many of these individuals had prior experiences on piano, violin, or in choir. Evidence for the high value placed on the social dimension can be seen in seniors’ positive comments about what they enjoyed most about band.