Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Instrumental Performance (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Trudy Kane

Second Committee Member

Robert Carnochan

Third Committee Member

Timothy Conner

Fourth Committee Member

Kimberly Sena Moore


The purpose of this study is to explore the factors that influence a teacher’s word choice in American private college-level flute lessons. Most of the research that has been conducted on music instruction focuses on technical methods for the purpose of enhancing curricula. Some research exists which explores the more psychological side of teaching and learning; however, the research that studies the private music lesson often seeks to understand either the teacher-student relationship through the eyes of students, or to understand music teacher perceptions on the ways in which their teaching informs their performing. While many studies and publications indirectly speak to the use of language in teaching and learning music, most research that explores the effectiveness of teaching approaches for specific techniques does not explore the verbal delivery used in the method. There is little literature in print which addresses teacher word choice, and even less, still, in the flute world. An examination of the available literature on subjects relevant to the factors that influence teacher word choice revealed six major topics: artist-teacher background, teacher’s responsibility to meet student’s needs and expectations, significance of the one-to-one teacher-student relationship, verbal teacher feedback, heightened sensitivities in music instruction, and words and music learning. Careful review of the prose relating word choice and existing practices in music instruction today led the author to pose the following research questions: 1. What elements of a teacher’s background influence their word choice in lessons? 2. To what degree does student individuality affect a teacher’s word choice from student to student? 3. How do teachers reflect their goals and values in their word choice? The research questions were addressed first by conducting semi-structured interviews with five of the nation’s leading flute pedagogues, chosen based on both the longevity and prestige of their performing career and the notable successes of current and former students. In alphabetical order, the subjects were: Leone Buyse, Marianne Gedigian, Amy Porter, Jim Walker, and Carol Wincenc. The interview questions were designed to uncover perceptions about the artist-teachers’ language use and how it relates to the six overarching topics discovered in the literature review. Upon completing and transcribing the interviews, the author “encoded” each transcription to discover common themes regarding the influences on the type of language used in lessons. The author performed every stage of research involved in this study, including the interview design, execution, and analyses. The study would be of use to any flutist, music teacher, or flute teacher who wishes to expand their knowledge of the complexity of music learning, increase their understanding of the intricacies of the one-to-one instruction model and explore the potentials for interconnectedness and musical creativity that result from thoughtful word choice.


music education; teacher word choice; flute lessons; words and music learning; teaching music; word choice