Volume 18, February 2024
E-portfolios as Learning Tools for Applied Double Bass Study; a Research-Based, Practice Oriented Approach

by Mark Elliot Bergman

1. Introduction

Applied double bass teachers (or double bass studio teachers), including at the post-secondary level, engage one-on-one with students for several years. Unlike most post-secondary educators who typically work with a student cohort over a more limited stretch of time (like a semester or trimester), applied double bass teachers have the pleasure of, and responsibility for, guiding learners through a multi-year process of growth and development. Employing e-portfolios as part of double bass studio training can be a crucial part of helping students develop important, fundamental musical skills and documenting that learning over an extended period.

Increasingly, educators in diverse disciplines employ electronic portfolio (a.k.a. e-portfolio) assessment (Berkeley Center for Teaching and Learning, 2022; Hickey and Webster, 2001; Kim and Yazdian, 2014; Jensen and Trever, 2014). E-portfolio learning is especially ubiquitous in higher education. As Roberts, Maor, and Herrington (2016) noted, "ePortfolios are being used increasingly as an assessment tool, particularly in terms of demonstrating skills, abilities, and achievements against set criteria or required competencies" (p. 22). Kim and Yazdian (2014) concur, noting, "portfolio assessment provides enriching contexts for crafting quality teaching for all students. Student work samples included in learning portfolios demonstrate the growth and progress that each student has made" (p. 225).

Defining essential skills and establishing parameters for learners collecting work samples helps make the most of an e-portfolio's potential efficacy. Amongst string pedagogues, there is a broad consensus that studying scales is essential for double bassists to build a strong technical and conceptual foundation (ABRSM, 2020; Amoroso, 2022; Schiller, 2004; Zlata, 2013). Asking learners to employ and record scale studies (in consort with a basic vocabulary of bow strokes) also provides valuable artifacts for students to curate and reflect upon as part of an e-portfolio. Such study forms the basic vocabulary of good musicianship for double bassists, which can be applied in many performing contexts. Deliberate, reflective practice properly documented and curated in an e-portfolio enhances iterative learning among student double bass players over the multi-year process of post-secondary education.