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

by Mark Elliot Bergman

6. Practice-oriented applications: Mock Jury (see Appendix D)

The fourth artifact my students prepare is a run-through of their jury materials. Preparing for a performance, especially for developing students, presents challenges. As Kaplan (2004) noted, "it is both mysterious and tragic that after practicing several hundred hours for a performance, a musician can be disappointed with the result" (p. 43).

My institution (Sheridan College) requires string majors to demonstrate competency in scales and bow articulations as well as a prepared piece. As part of a learning e-portfolio, I ask my students to record themselves playing their entire jury. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, I find that students often have unrealistic expectations of their preparedness. Expectations can be unrealistic because, in a performance situation, the student "must produce a satisfying performance on the first try, at a prearranged moment, on a prearranged day (Kaplan, 2004, p. 43). Documenting a performance artifact (i.e., a recording) in advance of the jury helps manage expectations for the actual performance.

Secondly, the recording becomes an important artifact used as part of the learning portfolio. Students can reflect on their performance experience and make notes for improvement. Also, curating mock jury videos allows the student to document iterative progress from semester to semester and from year to year.

Thirdly, the mock jury video recording allows the instructor to offer specific feedback corresponding with a time mark in the video. In my experience, pointing out specific moments in the student's jury material along with suggestions for improvement helps focus practice, especially in the days and weeks leading up to a jury. For example, telling a student the F# in bar 43 is flat and helping diagnose the technical reasons for the error is much more effective and actionable than informing a student that intonation should be improved in a general way. Specifying instructional goals for learners building e-portfolios is an important driver for learning. (Kim and Yazdian, 2014). In applied double bass studies, there are profound advantages to communicating learning goals that are specific and actionable in the weeks leading up to a major performance like a jury.