Pulman, Mark (2011) Rehearsing Popular Music In A Band. In: Stepping Out Of The Shadows, 5th April 2011, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. (Unpublished)

There seems little reported research about rehearsing popular music and the learning opportunities that might arise from this activity. Indeed, popular music arguably, is typically learned in the broader community as a self-directed activity, including interactions with peers, rather than under the direction of a mentor or tutor. As such, a tutor, involved in facilitating undergraduate bands in popular music, can be somewhat different to other rehearsing contexts. Not only, for example, can band members learn from each other, and about themselves during their group rehearsal, but the tutor may similarly learn from engaging in this participatory experience. Students may also invite their tutors to join them as a ‘band member’ attending their rehearsals, and sharing their rehearsal life-world. Being a tutor might, in this way, be likened to an ethnographic experience.

It is in this context that my practice as a performance tutor is situated. Being a performance tutor for popular music band rehearsals involves engagement in various activities, including facilitating, mentoring, providing feedback, encouraging a positive rehearsal vibe and promoting teamwork. it is from this engagement that my research interests have developed. As such, and given the apparent lack of literature on, and pedagogical resources for, band rehearsing of popular music, I embarked on research in order to help provide a contribution towards filling that gap. From its genesis as an informal study conducted during 2001–2003, with its aim being to inform annual module evaluation, it developed into an action research project exploring personal attributes and peer assessment in band rehearsals. Continuing from 2008, the action research investigated wider aspects of the band rehearsing process and tutor interaction. The module itself has incorporated various pedagogical refinements and techniques that have arisen from the eight year study. The impact of the research on myself as a tutor, and my practice involving the life world of the band rehearsal, has been significant. It is hoped that practitioners, performance tutors, and those interested in researching their practice will find this paper helpful and consider how using an action research apporoach might have relevance to their own work.

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