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Nature Of Verbal And Gestural Metaphors Psychology Essay

Chapter 8

In this chapter, I begin with briefly revisiting the overview and general aims of the study in section 8.1, and the research design in section 8.2. These are followed by key overall results of the study in section 8.3. Its significance and contributions are discussed in section 8.4, and its implications and potential applications are the foci of section 8.5. Section 8.6 deals with the limitations of the study and suggestions for future research are presented in section 8.7. Finally, an overall conclusion is drawn in section 8.8.

8.1 Overview and General Aims of the Study

In cognitive metaphor theory, metaphor is a conceptual and experiential process that structures our world (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). Applied linguistics scholars (e.g., Littlemore & Low, 2006; Semino, 2008), rather than discarding the concept of conceptual metaphor, aim at connecting “the conceptual with the linguistic, in theory and in empirical work” (Cameron & Deignan, 2006, p. 672). They insist, not only on the importance of the form of language, but also on how language is used in context in order to understand the metaphor involved, by highlighting the importance of looking into linguistic metaphors in naturally occurring language.

It has been claimed, on the other hand, that speech and gesture together form an integrated communicative system (McNeill, 1992). If metaphor, as discussed earlier, is a symbolic or cognitive process which reflects how people think, then speech should not be the only manifestation of metaphor in oral discourse. Gesture may hence provide another window to investigate conceptual metaphor.

The current study examined the nature of verbal and gestural metaphors used by six music teachers in 13 sessions in Taiwanese junior high schools, where Mandarin Chinese was the main language used. The main research questions for the current study are:

What is the nature of verbal and gestural metaphor in Taiwanese music classrooms at junior high school level?

What are the density, word class, and distribution of the verbal metaphors?

What and how the metaphoric gestures are used?

Can the verbal metaphors be grouped into recurrent or systematic metaphors?

How RQ1 is answered; that is, how verbal and gestural metaphors used in classroom discourse where Mandarin Chinese is the main language used can be identified, coded, and grouped?

What are the relations between verbal and gestural metaphors used in Taiwanese music classrooms at junior high school level?

How verbal and gestural metaphors are used in Taiwanese music classrooms at junior high school level?

What are the functions of the verbal and gestural metaphors?

How do the verbal and gestural metaphors assist in music teaching?

It was hoped that through the study, a better understanding can be achieved of (a) what and how verbal and gestural metaphors are used in music teaching, (b) how speech, gesture, and the underlying cognition relate to each other, and identification procedures for identifying and coding verbal and gestural metaphors could be developed.

8.2 Research Design

Mixed qualitative research paradigms and methodologies, namely ethnography, discourse analysis, and grounded theory, were applied in the present study. It involved three phases: preliminary study, pilot study, and main study. The preliminary and pilot studies were used to explore the ground and examine the feasibility of the intended research design, helping to develop the research questions and research methods for the main study. Data for the three phases of the study were collected between December 2006 and May 2008. In total, eight music teachers from eight junior high schools in Taiwan participated.

In the preliminary study, one audio-recorded session from an elementary school and one audio-recorded session from a junior high school in Taiwan were analysed. Verbal metaphors alone were the focus of the preliminary study. A version of the Pragglejaz Group’s (2007) Metaphor Identification Procedure (MIP) was applied to identify the metaphorically used word segments. It was found that metaphor density varied in the two sessions as regards different teaching content and different educational levels: More (verbal) metaphors occurred in the session at junior high school than the one at elementary school level, and the metaphors related more to music theory, music history, and music appreciation than roll call and playing the recorder. These findings helped the pilot study narrow down the school level to junior high school, and the types of music sessions to those which could potentially produce more metaphors. In addition, the results of metaphor density calculation helped estimate the amount of data to be gathered for the main study.

The purposes of the pilot study were: To explore if any gestures, especially metaphoric ones, were used by music teachers at junior high school level; to test out the designed observation schedule and interview questions; and to develop a metaphoric gesture identification procedure for the main study. Data were collected from interview and classroom observation by video recording and field notes. One music teacher, Yang, was interviewed, and three of her teaching sessions were observed. The applications of MIP and McNeill’s (1992) classification system helped develop an identification and coding policy for analysing verbal and gestural metaphors in the main study. The observation schedule and interview questions were also tested and improved afterwards for the main study.

Data for the main study came from 13 music sessions by, and interviews with, six teachers in six junior high schools in Taiwan which were mixed as regards age, location, and size. Both general and special education streams were involved, and teaching content of the sessions included music appreciation, music theory, and orchestra ensemble. Small amounts of Taiwanese, English, Hakka, and Italian languages were also used in addition to Mandarin Chinese. A total length of 636.42 minutes of the videos was transcribed.

8.3 Key Overall Findings and Discussions

Six findings from the three-staged analysis are worth summarising: (a) Verbal and gestural metaphors were pervasively used in music teaching, (b) systematic patterns existed in the metaphors, (c) metaphors were not treated as a teaching tool by all the teachers, (d) use of metaphors did not always promise successful communication and teaching, (e) gestures and speech were two parts of a broader communication system, and (f) gestures were used inherently by music teachers in music teaching. Each is discussed below.

8.3.1 Verbal and Gestural Metaphors Were Pervasively Used in Music Teaching

The teachers used verbal and gestural metaphors in both general music sessions and orchestra ensemble sessions, to both general students and music-talented ones. The results of both the preliminary study and the main study suggest that the density of verbal metaphor in music teaching ranged broadly across the sessions, at 10 to 50 per 1,000 (Chinese) characters, compared with the density in spoken discourse which ranged between 10 and 60 per 1,000 (English) words in classrooms where English is the main language used at primary level (Cameron, 2003).

The verbal metaphors identified were analysed in terms of word classes: nouns, adjectives, adverbs, classifiers, prepositions, and multiword metaphors. Of these, verbs and nouns were the two types which were most frequently found. In addition, the verbal metaphors were widespread in different teaching sequences such as explication, exemplification, content and procedure management, control, and evaluative and strategic feedback. Not all verbal metaphors had explicit Vehicle domains (they were implicit metaphors), and some metaphors were found in sentences which functioned as a whole (i.e., multiword metaphors). Mixed metaphors, metaphorically used word segments from a mixture of domains employed to talk about the same musical Topic, were also found.

Metaphoric gestures were used—in spite of the teachers’ hands being occupied—and in total, 509 metaphoric gestures were identified. Similar to verbal metaphors, the metaphoric gestures were not equally distributed across teachers and sessions. In addition, the metaphoric gestures showed little evidence of having fixed forms and were multifaceted in nature. Several functions of metaphoric gestures and the accompanying speech used in the music sessions were found, including visualising abstract music, making contrasts, organising the lecture, giving additional information, completing an incomplete verbal utterance, and giving feedback.

Kieffer (2007) stated that “language . . . is crucial to understanding musical expression” (p. 9), and found that “without the metaphor, the music was incapable of expressiveness and communication; audiences [or students] did not understand it” (ibid., p. 13). To be more specific, it is through (verbal) metaphors that music is interpreted, and meanings of patterns of sound are searched (ibid.; Scruton, 1983). On the other hand, Wis (1998) suggested that metaphoric gestures proved their value especially when aspects of music could not be fully verbally described. The present study echoes the above studies which pointed out and emphasised the significance of verbal metaphors and gestures in the construction of the meaning of music, and further suggests that verbal and gestural metaphors together play an essential role in music teaching.

8.3.2 Systematic Patterns Existed in the Metaphors

Patterns in the verbal metaphors could be found in the data of both the preliminary and main studies. The patterns suggest that musical concepts were often talked about by the teachers in terms of bodily experience, and some of them seemed to be culture specific. Similar to the verbal ones, metaphoric gestures seemed to be used with a degree of systematicity, and much of which corresponded to the systematicity shown by the verbal metaphors, though the presentation of metaphor by gesture was more flexible as regards form.

However, there were cases when the metaphors found in the current study were not entirely consistent with those reported in previous studies. For example, the recurrent verbal metaphor TIME IS MOVING VERTICALLY and the moving direction of time and music from up to down expressed gesturally seem not appear in English data, which may be due to culture-specific factors such as the writing system (Boroditsky, 2001; Chan & Bergen, 2005).

8.3.3 Metaphors Were Not Treated as a Teaching Tool by All the Teachers

Although it seemed that gestures, especially metaphoric gestures, were an aspect of the music teacher’s pedagogical repertoire, not all of the teachers considered metaphors as a teaching tool. Only two teachers (Teachers A and C) in the postobservation interviews pointed out the importance of and their preference for using (verbal) metaphors to increase students’ interest and improve their comprehension. The most extreme and opposing example came from Teacher D, who believed that the use of (verbal) metaphors, though it somehow provided the students with a channel to think about music, nevertheless limited students’ imaginations; using metaphor was she said the last thing that she would do (Interview Db). Ironically, verbal and gestural metaphors existed in Teacher D’s two observed sessions. One of the possible explanations for Teacher D’s inconsistency in thinking and acting is that, although teachers might be objective about using novel and predesigned metaphors, it is unavoidable for them to use at least conventional metaphors when talking about music in classrooms (for example, talking about pitch in terms of spatial height).

8.3.4 Use of Metaphors Did Not Always Promise Successful Communication and Teaching

Teacher D’s worry, nevertheless, was understandable, and she further pointed out the fact that metaphors used by teachers may potentially lead to undesirable consequences in classrooms. Indeed, similar problem was found in the current study and had also been pointed out in other subjects by other researchers. That is to say, the use of metaphors did not necessarily promise successful communication and teaching. For example, as discussed in section 7.7.4, the students’ responses showed that the way Teacher C distinguished major and minor keys was not as comprehensible as it was supposed to be and the teacher used more adjectives from various domains to help the students later in the same session. Spiro, Feltovich, Coulson, and Anderson (1989), had an in-depth discussion on how the use of single analogy and metaphor from the biomedical domain might lead to medical students’ misunderstanding of the concepts. To tackle this, however, rather than eliminating the metaphors, they proposed and demonstrated the value of using multiple and complementary analogies and metaphors instead. Such multiplicity might be useful in the context of music classrooms to avoid limiting students to thinking about music in a way—the one way—proposed by the teachers. Further research is needed before definite conclusions can be drawn about multiple metaphors in music education.

8.3.5 Gestures and Speech Were Two Parts of a Broader Communication System

Relations between metaphoric gestures and the accompanying speech were examined, and two issues were particularly stressed: the time of occurrence of metaphoric gestures and the accompanying verbal referent, and how gestures together with speech manifested metaphor, in classroom situations where Mandarin Chinese was the main language used. The results further confirmed that metaphoric gestures intertwined with speech temporally and semantically (Kendon, 2000; Mayberry & Jaques, 2000). These conclusions were based on the fact that: (a) the time when metaphoric gestures occurred was not always the same as when the verbal referent was uttered, and (b) the metaphor which was manifested by a gesture might be correlated to, or different from, the metaphor (if there was one) which was manifested in speech. In addition, how the metaphor was used by the teachers shifted between the two modalities of gesture and speech highlighted the dynamicity of metaphor in use (Müller, 2007).

Metaphoric gestures complemented the accompanying speech by emphasising what was verbally said, or expressing additional information which was not given in speech at all. They could also pragmatically invite action by the students to get involved in the classroom discourse contributing to teaching and learning. The content represented by the metaphoric gestures and the accompanying speech might or might not overlap, but the meanings of metaphoric gestures cannot be decided, from a researcher’s perspective, without taking the accompanying speech and other use of metaphoric gestures by the same teacher in the context into consideration.

Based on this evidence, it seems justifiable to argue, that metaphoric gestures, together with speech, acted as two parts of the overall dynamic communication system which contributed to the music teaching.

8.3.6 Gestures Were Used Inherently by Music Teachers in Music Teaching

The observed teachers did not deliver their lectures in only one modality; instead, it was revealed from the study that speech and gestures intertwined delicately when the teachers expressed themselves in music classrooms. Gestures and speech complemented each other, such that the overall meaning would have been hard to express if only one of the modalities had been used.

Reimer (1968) stated that music “is a means for understanding and exploring human feeling through expressive sounds” (p. 104). The present study enhances this point of view by providing a detailed examination of how such understanding and exploration of music can be expressed in classroom situations. The results suggest that (a) metaphors can play an essential role in linking inner and more abstract feelings to outer and more concrete (musical) sounds, and (b) they do it not only verbally but also gesturally.

People gesture. The current study further confirms that language and gesture seem inseparable, and it is counterproductive to treat one of them in isolation from the other in music teaching. Indeed, it has been suggested that gesture is integral to the speaking process (Iverson & Goldin-Meadow, 1998; McNeill, 1992), and gesture does not need a receiver or observer and people do not need a model to learn how to gesture. For example, even congenitally blind people have been found to gesture and the gestures they produce resemble those of sighted people (Iverson & Goldin-Meadow, 1998), and there are cases when pairs of speakers who cannot see each other still gesture when they talk to each other (Rimé, 1982). These examples somehow explain why in the observed sessions gestures and speech were so integrated.

8.4 Significance and Contributions of the Study

The current study represents an original and exploratory empirical contribution to the field by examining how metaphor is expressed both verbally and gesturally in music classrooms where Mandarin Chinese was the main language used at junior high school level. Previous studies conducted in both English and non-English speaking countries found music teaching relying predominately on verbal instruction (e.g., Davidson, 1989; Sakadolskis, 2003; Woody, 2006), and other nonverbal behaviours such as gestures (e.g., Haviland, 2007), and they seem to suggest that (verbal) metaphor and gestures play separate roles in music teaching, regardless of the language used. However, there is a shortage of empirical studies which investigate the use of metaphors with other nonverbal behaviour, including gesture, in general music classrooms at junior high school level. This study provides baseline data on verbal and gestural metaphors used together in music teaching in Mandarin Chinese at junior high school level, and thus fills a gap in the literature.

In addition, the results of the current study further support conceptual metaphor theory by providing empirical data on how native speakers of Mandarin Chinese express metaphor via two modalities—namely speech and gesture—via a dynamic process. Beyond this, the study thirdly makes a contribution to developing methods of identifying metaphorically used word segments in Mandarin Chinese, and methods of coding metaphoric gestures.

8.5 Implications and Applications of the Study

Implications and applications of the present study can be drawn from two perspectives: applications for doing research, and implications for educational practice.

8.5.1 Applications for Doing Research

The identification and coding methods and policy, combined with the use of a dictionary, segmentation system and corpus, applied and developed for the present study might be found applicable for future researchers to identify and code verbal and gestural metaphor use in similar real-world contexts in Mandarin Chinese. Metaphor identification can be highly subjective, and different language and research purposes might require different identification and coding methods. However, as suggested in section 7.4.9, how metaphors are identified and categorised can be as important as what meanings and implications the systematic metaphors convey. Further research might explore and extend the present use of the methods.

8.5.2 Implications for Educational Practice

Reimer (1968) pointed out the two behaviours involved in experiencing music: (a) to perceive what is expressed, and (b) to react to what is perceived. The former can be directly learned from teaching and learning but the latter cannot (ibid.). Verbal and gestural metaphors, as the current study shows, can play essential roles connecting Reimer’s two behaviours and help teachers talk about and express aspects of music in classroom situations.

Since face-to-face instruction has been, and will continue being in the near future, a main approach to teaching music of junior high school level in Taiwan (He, 2006), the most important element in successful teaching is not textbooks or videos but the teacher. A teacher determines the atmosphere of the classroom, how the students learn, and how effective the teaching and learning are. What s/he says and what s/he gestures can all become a part of teaching tools which s/he can make use of. The present study has tried to draw music teachers’ attention to what they have brought—either consciously or unconsciously—into part of their teaching and what they can do, and avoid doing, in the classrooms.

However, any teaching implications based on these preliminary findings should not be treated without caution. As Petrie and Oshlag (1993) suggested, the successful use of metaphor in classrooms does not stop when teachers introduce metaphors to solve the potential problems which students may have with the concepts or materials to be learned. It continues to be relevant to correcting and iterating the process until the students are allowed to “make judgments similar to those of experts in similar specific cases” and eventually learn the new concepts and materials based on what and how they already know through metaphors (p. 609). To what extent that metaphors and what modality of metaphors contribute more to music teaching clearly need further exploration.

8.6 Limitations of the Study

Although the present study has yielded findings that have both practical and pedagogical implications, its design is not without limitations.

The first limitation concerns the small amount of data analysed. However, dealing with the data, especially identifying the metaphorically used word segments, identifying gesticulations, and coding metaphoric gestures, were together enormously time intensive for a single researcher. Since the study involved only six junior high schools and 13 sessions, the generalisation of the results to other teachers or classrooms with different geographical or social or economical backgrounds may be limited. However, the fact that the school sample was mixed as regards age, location, size and sessions with general and music-talented students should still allow the findings and implications of the study be generalised to some degree, at least, to the extent that groups of teachers and students are similar to the participants.

The method of identifying metaphorically used word segments itself is limited. As discussed in section 7.4.9, the results of the metaphor analysis were inevitably affected by the coding policy which each researcher developed and applied, and hence different researchers might come up with different results concerning what is metaphorically used. Nevertheless, it was hoped that through a detailed and explicit discussion (in chapter 6) on the identification and coding process, the reader can at least get a good idea of how each decision was made.

In addition, the questions of what constitutes conceptual metaphor, and how MetNet Group’s (2006) systematic metaphors link to conceptual metaphors, have not yet reached a consensus in the literature (Gibbs, in press). As discussed in section 2.1.2, applied linguists have criticised conceptual metaphor theory in as much as many of the examples given are not systematically and exhaustively collected from empirical language use. To tackle this, scholars (Cameron, et al., 2009; MetNet Group, 2006; Steen, 2009) have been working on developing a process of how conceptual metaphor can be established from linguistic metaphors (i.e., verbal metaphors) collected from real language use. In the present study, I searched for and organised the systematicity between the Vehicle and Topic domains of the verbal metaphors used by the six teachers across the 13 sessions, and organised and categorised them into groups of systematic metaphors. A step-by-step discussion can be found in section 6.4.3.

There is also, problem related to data gathering which derives from the fact that the current study is based on interviews and classroom observations. It is difficult to say if the interviewed teachers and observed sessions suffered from the observer’s and camera’s presence. Including more than one method of data gathering was intended to lower the potential bias which might be caused by any single method. Future researchers might also consider sitting in the classrooms several times before the sessions are observed and recorded, to facilitate the acceptance of their presence in the classrooms. In addition, the teachers were not asked to remove anything they held in their hands during the observed sessions in the present study. It was hoped that the lecture delivery could be kept as natural as possible, but this somehow constrained the teachers’ use of hands (especially their palms which were occupied when the teachers “naturally” held objects in one hand or two hands). Another limitation is that, due to the fact that only one recorder was permitted by the teachers, gesture and/or metaphor interaction between teachers and their students could not be systematically tracked. Finally, the processes of transcription, identifying, and coding are, unavoidably, all processes of interpretation. To tackle this, another coder was involved to increase the validity and reliability of data collection and analysis in the current study.

8.7 Suggestions for Future Research

While this study has its limitations, it is hoped that it can serve as a basis for further study in music education and cognitive or applied linguistics (especially) in Mandarin Chinese. Based on its findings and results, some new possibilities for future research that may profitably be addressed by future researchers are discussed below.

Mixed metaphors were found in the data (discussed in sections 7.2.4: Verbal Metaphors in Explanation Sequences, and 7.4.9). It then raises a question of what factors constrain the Vehicle domains of these mixed metaphors related to one Topic domain of music. Culture and bodily experiences have been suggested in the literature and by a small amount of relevant data in the current study. Gur (2008) looked into musical texts, and concluded that a complicated relation existed between music and other fields of human experience, going beyond bodily experiences. Similarly, Eitan and Timmers (2010) found that native Hebrew speakers used various Vehicle domains to talk orally about pitch, and it seemed that other underlying dimensions—other than culture and embodiment—also played their roles (e.g., concepts involving emotion, evaluation, and social structure) (p. 421). The intertwined factors will need further investigation in order to be identified in different cultural and institutional contexts, so that the extent to which and how perception and thought interact can ultimately be explored (ibid.).

In addition, the present study investigated not just how verbal and gestural metaphors were used by music teachers, but how far the (verbal and gestural) metaphors helped (or interfere) the students—especially those without previous musical training—understand that abstract concepts in music might be important to know. In other words, what speakers or teachers say does not necessarily reflect what listeners or students think and/or understand. It is possible, as Brown, Leiter, and Hildum (1957) argued, that “the [music] critic may fancy that a voice can be dry or white, but the reader of his criticism has no idea what he means” (p. 347). Additionally, previous studies (e.g., Cornejo et al., 2009) suggested that gestures might play a role in (verbal) metaphor comprehension. This has been supported by empirical studies conducted in classrooms of mathematics (e.g., Singer & Goldin-Meadow, 2005), biology (e.g., Pozzer-Ardenghi & Roth, 2007), and second language learning (e.g., Church et al, 2004), and is further echoed by studies in neuroscience in specific contexts. For example, congruent and incongruent gestures accompanying literal and metaphoric speech influenced L2 speakers’ processing of verbal metaphors based on L2 speakers’ ERP [1] results (Ibáñez et al., 2010). The present study has suggested that while (metaphoric) gestures are part of music teachers’ teaching repertoires, teachers’ use of verbal and gestural metaphors may not always benefit the students. Future studies involving students’ interpretations might offer (at least) music teachers more valuable insights into the processes of music learning and teaching.

Based on an applied linguist’s view of conceptual metaphor theory, the current study paid more attention to recurrent metaphors than the nonrecurrent ones. However, there were one-off examples such as bu fuhe rentigongxue de paizi (“beats providing no supportive ergonomics”) (C2, 880) and zuihou na jig e yin hao exin o (“the final notes are very disgusting”) (F1, 907) used by the teachers when describing music and giving students comments. These nonrecurrent metaphors were also worth investigating because they were not used in a conventional way which could be found in everyday conversation, and hence might cause students confusion or even misunderstanding due to their one-off occurrence and lack of a surrounding context which might facilitate understanding (Low, Littlemore, & Koester, 2008).

Another area for future research concerns reciprocal metaphor use; that is, the interaction and development of metaphor use between teachers and students in the classrooms at junior high school level (c.f., Cameron, 2003, Low, Littlemore, & Koester, 2008). As discussed in section 7.2.4, metaphors used by Teacher E in control sequences were retained, reused, and developed later in the same session by a student. The metaphor was first introduced by Teacher E to keep the class in order, and it was echoed and developed by the student to sarcastically make fun of his classmate. Such an interpretation should be treated circumspectly due to the fact that only one video recorder was allowed in the current study, and the student’s use of metaphor could only be partly captured. Nevertheless, issues similar to how students perceive and respond to teachers’ use of metaphors are definitely worth investigating and exploring for future studies, which might (a) demonstrate if the cross-domain mapping or comparison of teachers’ metaphors are understood or misunderstood, and (b) add dimensions to the metaphor research, from metaphor recognition to aspects of metaphor interpretation (the process of metaphors being understood) and metaphor appreciation (the process of metaphors being appreciated emotionally), as distinguished by Gibbs (in press). That is to say, how metaphors are interpreted and/or appreciated by students in music classrooms might provide another perspective to learn the linkage between metaphors and music teaching and learning.

8.8 Conclusion

In conclusion, to judge from the observed sessions, metaphor is expressed pervasively through not only speech but also gestures in music teaching at junior high school level in Taiwan. The metaphoric gestures were more flexible than the verbal metaphors in terms of forms, but systematicity was found in metaphors presented in both modalities. Gestural metaphors did not always occur at the same time as the verbal metaphors, neither did they always relate to the same metaphor. These suggest that gesture and speech are two parts of a broader communication system in music teaching. In addition, metaphoric gestures and verbal metaphors served various pedagogical functions in music classrooms, and they complemented each other to give fuller expression than any single modality could achieve.

This study has taken an exploratory step in the direction of examining how metaphor is used in speech and by gestures in music teaching at junior high school level. It may not represent the context of Taiwan as a whole, but is of importance in pointing out (a) the complexity of how some music teachers express themselves in a mixture of audio and visual modalities in classroom situations at junior high school level, (b) how thought and the multimodal expressions are linked through metaphor in music teaching, and (c) how underlying universal and cultural concepts related to what metaphor is presented. It is hoped that the study will encourage further cross-cultural investigation and exploration into such issues in the context of teaching and learning.

Coda

One night around 18 months ago, Sue Perkins, British comedian, was about to conduct a new piece which she had been given in a reality show on BBC Two. In the weekly television series, Sue competed with the other seven celebrities to learn to conduct orchestral, choral, and opera music. At one point where Sue and her mentor conductor, Jason Lai, were informed what to conduct (i.e., Borodin's Polovtsian Dances), Jason gave Sue a short description of the new piece. The two were in a practice room, standing beside each other by a grand piano. “This is not gentle music,” Jason looked at Sue while she was sipping her coffee and looked down at her score. “This is Russian, rough and raw . . . and radiant.” Jason’s two hands, forming into two fists, kept beating—hard and fast, one after the other—the space between his front chest and Sue’s left shoulder. “We need to see it is . . . in your . . . ” Jason’s fists were now open, raised to the height of Sue’s head, palms facing toward each other, and repeatedly moving from up to down along Sue’s upper body. “That’s easy,” Sue interrupted, before Jason verbally finished his sentence. “OK,” Jason moved his eyes from Sue down to his score, hands down. “My grandmother is a Latvian peasant,” Sue explained.

Just as my classmate described Mozart’s music as “sweet” to me years ago, which surprised me and later stimulated my interest in conducting the current study, Jason demonstrated again that night how metaphors talked about music—the difference was that Jason used them not only verbally, but also gesturally.

Danish author and poet, Hans Christian Andersen, once said, “Where words fail, music speaks.” His words can be applied to the context of music classrooms to partly explain why music teachers gesture. Gestures express what is, and what cannot be, conveyed by speech. Where words fail, gestures prove their value.

Footnote to Chapter Eight


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