The effectiveness of Aebersold play-along recordings for gaining proficiency in jazz improvisation
The purpose of this study was to determine whether an Aebersold play-along recording is an effective tool for becoming a more proficient jazz improviser. Participants (N=35) were undergraduate and graduate trumpet, trombone, and saxophone students enrolled in the jazz program at a mid-sized university in the mid-western United States.The study followed a pretest/posttest design in which participants were randomly assigned to either an experimental or control group. Both groups were asked to record a pretest of improvisation over two choruses of F blues, along with a rhythm section playalong recording. Three expert judges evaluated these pretest performances using the Instrumental Jazz Improvisation Evaluation Measure (IJIEM). Participants self-reported a total of four hours of individual practice over the next thirteen days, the control group practicing F blues without the aid of accompaniment and the experimental group practicing with a play-along accompaniment compact disc provided by the researcher. Participants recorded two choruses of improvisation as a posttest on day fourteen, which were subsequently evaluated by the three expert judges, again using the IJIEM. The pretest and posttest results for all three judges were then averaged and compared for differences.The results reveal a significant difference with positive gain scores in both groups. While both groups showed higher mean gain scores, the experimental group experienced a fifty-six percent gain over the control group (not statistically significant).