Dr. Evelyn Orman, professor of music education, is the lead author for the article “Feasibility of Using an Augmented Immersive Virtual Reality Learning Environment to Enhance Music Conducting Skills” published recently in the Journal of Music Teacher Education. The article reports on the latest of Dr. Orman’s investigations into the use of immersive virtual reality environments as a means to enhance the skills of beginning wind band conductors.
Non-verbal communication, in the form of eye contact, torso movement, and gestures, is profoundly important to successful conducting. Practicing conducting in front of an ensemble, as opposed to alone, can greatly improve a student conductor’s non-verbal communication skills, but the opportunity to conduct live musicians is limited in the educational setting. Virtual Reality Learning Environment (VRLE) technology can provide students with an immersive, interactive experience that helps build non-verbal skills.
This latest study measured improvement in non-verbal conducting skills among 10 undergraduate students who were divided into three groups: One group used no VRLE technology; one group used VRLE technology with head tracking; and one group used VRLE technology with no head tracking. Between pre and post-tests with a live ensemble, the student conductors practiced in controlled environments in eight sessions.
The study’s results demonstrated gain scores from pre- to post-test measures of eye contact, torso movement, and gesture were higher for participants who practiced their conducting using an augmented VRLE with head tracking as compared to those who practiced their conducting using traditional techniques or in an augmented VRLE without head tracking.
Dr. Orman has studied the use of virtual reality in music education for more than a decade. Widely recognized as one of the top research scholars in the world in the field of music education, she is currently serving as a Commissioner (2012-2018) and as the 2016-2018 Chair of the International Society of Music Education (ISME) Research Commission.