Breaking Sound Barriers: New Perspectives On Effective Big Band Development And Rehearsal

Document Type

Journal Article


Australian Society for Music Education


Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Education




Greig, J. P., & Lowe, G. M. (2014). Breaking sound barriers: New perspectives on effective big band development and rehearsal. Australian Journal of Music Education, 2014(1), 52 - 65. Available here


Jazz big band is a common extra-curricular musical activity in Western Australian secondary schools. Jazz big band offers important fundamentals that can help expand a student's musical understanding. However, the teaching of conventions associated with big band jazz has often been haphazard and can be daunting and frightening, especially for classically trained music teachers. In order to maximise results within extra-curricular rehearsal time constraints, this article synthesizes current literature into big band development from Australia and overseas, designed to ensure positive outcomes, especially for teachers with little or no jazz background. In order to 'break sound barriers', it is important to consider the pre-rehearsal preparation, as well as the face to face rehearsal and performance situation. The article contextualises jazz education and attendant issues in secondary schools in Western Australia before outlining current literature into strategies designed to maximise rehearsal efficiency prior to, during rehearsals and after performances. It then presents a model, based around the fundamentals of set-up, instrument roles, sound and repertoire, designed to build a motivated and musically competent jazz big band. By summarising the literature, the article ultimately aims to equip directors with the knowledge to maximise the potential of jazz big bands in secondary schools throughout Australia.

Access Rights

subscription content