Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Cornelia Yarbrough


The purpose of this study was to investigate verbal behaviors of independent piano teachers in the setting of the private piano lesson. Twenty-five piano teachers from southeast Louisiana participated in the study. Teachers recorded the individual lessons of two students on audiotape. Verbatim transcripts were developed from a total of 47 recorded lessons. Transcripts were coded, identifying verbal behaviors with regard to components of sequential patterns established by Yarbrough and Price (1981, 1989). Verbal behaviors were analyzed for time spent in the categories of teacher presentation, student participation, and teacher reinforcement. Frequencies were obtained for the number of complete/correct, complete/incorrect, and incomplete teaching patterns observed. Results demonstrated significant differences due to student age in the areas of overall presentation of musical information, teacher talk, and coaching by the teacher, as well as student participation. Results also indicated that students perceived as "average" by their teachers received significantly more directive comments than students perceived as "better.". Significant interactions were observed in the area of verbal teacher reinforcement between the variables of student experience and teacher experience. Results showed that teachers with more than 18.5 years of experience were more disapproving to students with more than 3.5 years of playing experience. Less-experienced teachers not only exhibited more approvals to more-experienced students, but were more specific with approvals overall than their more-experienced colleagues. Observations of frequencies of occurrence of teaching patterns revealed relatively low frequencies of complete/correct patterns of teaching when compared to complete/incorrect and incomplete patterns observed. A post-hoc questionnaire dealing with various components of teaching patterns was completed by 21 of the 25 teachers. Spearman Rank correlation comparing teacher opinions to teacher behaviors revealed little, if any correlation between the expressed opinions and observed behaviors of the teachers.