Exploring the 12-key approach: Perceptions and experiences of improvising jazz vocalists

Article


Hargreaves, Wendy. 2016. "Exploring the 12-key approach: Perceptions and experiences of improvising jazz vocalists." International Journal of Music Education. 34 (3), pp. 369-378. https://doi.org/10.1177/0255761414563197
Article Title

Exploring the 12-key approach: Perceptions and experiences of improvising jazz vocalists

ERA Journal ID9994
Article CategoryArticle
Authors
AuthorHargreaves, Wendy
Journal TitleInternational Journal of Music Education
Journal Citation34 (3), pp. 369-378
Number of Pages10
Year2016
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
ISSN0255-7614
1448-3238
1744-795X
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1177/0255761414563197
Web Address (URL)https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0255761414563197
Abstract

The 12-key approach is considered a foundational practice strategy for jazz instrumentalists. Its relevance to vocalists, however, seems less clear. This article investigates improvising jazz vocalists’ perceptions and experiences of using the 12-key approach as distinguished from instrumentalists’. It uses data from a two-phase, mixed methods study. Phase one of the study utilised an anonymous, online survey to investigate vocalists’ and instrumentalists’ perceptions and experiences of jazz education and performance. The second phase utilised interviews with skilled Australian jazz vocal improvisers and with senior jazz educators in Australian tertiary institutions. The combined results reveal that vocalists predominantly regard the 12-key approach as less helpful to their work as jazz musicians than do instrumentalists. The difference was commonly attributed to a difference in the motor programming needs of the two groups. Physical limitations of performing in 12 keys were also repeatedly cited as interfering with the method for vocalists. Two interviewees connected the repetition of 12-key practice as beneficial in developing procedural knowledge useful for improvising. Such possible cognitive benefits suggest that the method should be further investigated before decisions are made on its value to vocal jazz improvisation education.

Keywordseducation, improvisation, jazz, keys, singing
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020360302. Music composition and improvisation
360303. Music education
Public Notes

File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author.

Byline AffiliationsGriffith University
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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