Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Harriet Hayes

Degree Award Date

Fall 2011


College Jazz Band, group dynamics, social dynamics, spatial dynamics, formal leadership, de facto leadership, solidarity


Leadership Studies | Social Psychology


The aim of this project was to research the group dynamics of the Valley College Jazz Band at the start of a new year with a new director.· As a member of this group, I observed the types and frequencies of interactions that took place within the band for the first eleven weeks of the fall 2011 semester. The Jazz Band illustrates the dynamics and dimensions of solidarity, which refers to instances of integration being achieved through displays of ritual solidarity (Collins 1988). I use the term social dynamics to refer to interaction patterns such as rate and who-to-whom and I found that a high rate of interaction and a consistent involvement of the same people leads to regular friendships between those people. Whole-band conversations are also influenced by these social dynamics. Likewise, spatial dynamics refers to interactions that are influenced by physical proximity and I found that closeness increases the likelihood of interaction and friendship. I also detected aspects of newness, which are interactions that show a dissipation of solidarity and I found that such interactions occurred during the first few rehearsals at the start of the semester and immediately following the first concert. Humor was an especially powerful mechanism and refers to interactions that serve as jokes and I found that humor serves many purposes, including enacting ritual solidarity. The formal leadership of our director was also observed and I found that her teaching style, her communication style, and what she emphasizes all enrich her effectiveness as a director. Additionally, her being new to the group contributed to the atmosphere of newness. Finally, de facto leadership (Ditrich 2000) refers to interactions of leadership played out by other members, such as our drummer or our first trombone player. In looking at these seven dimensions of group dynamics, I concluded that social and spatial dynamics, newness, humor, and formal and de facto leadership all function as mechanisms of solidarity.