Relative effectiveness of two approaches to the teaching of music theory on the achievement and attitudes of undergraduate students training as church musicians
Kinchen, John Dawson III
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As a result of a perceived need to improve the music theory curricula for the preparation of church music leaders, this study compared two diverse approaches to the teaching of music theory for church music university students on achievement, attitudes, and self-preparedness. This current study was a quantitative, quasi-experimental research design. Participants (N = 286) were first-year music theory students drawn from the music theory programs at six universities. Both experimental and control groups were exposed to similar music theory content; however, the experimental group was taught music theory emphasizing a combination of Common Practice principles with pop/rock and jazz theory concepts, Nashville Number system, rhythm chart writing and reading, contemporary vocal harmony, and performance of theory concepts through in-class lab settings. In contrast, the control group was taught music theory using a traditional, conservatory-based music theory curriculum consisting of harmony practices presented in traditional four-part writing based exclusively on Common Practice Period principles. When the Liberty contemporary and Liberty traditional groups were compared, significant differences were revealed with the contemporary group scoring higher on posttest measures of music theory achievement (p < .05), attitude (p < .05), and self-preparedness (p < .001). When the Liberty contemporary group was compared with the five other universities, the ANCOVA results for the music theory achievement posttest scores revealed that students instructed in a contemporary music theory curriculum achieved higher test scores on traditional music theory concepts. ANOVA results of the attitude inventory posttest scores indicated that students instructed in a contemporary music theory curriculum possessed higher attitudinal scores (toward a diversity of music styles) as compared to students taught in a traditional music theory curriculum. Significant differences (p < .001) between groups on posttest self-preparedness scores also indicated that the participants instructed in the contemporary music theory curriculum felt more confident and self-prepared as prospective church music leaders than those participants instructed in a traditional music theory curriculum. This study supports the effectiveness of the use of contemporary church music styles as part of the musical education of future church music leaders.
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