The development of and relationship between vocal sight reading and instrumental sight reading of seventh, ninth, and eleventh grade orchestra students
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Developing the music cognition competencies of both singers and instrumentalists is one of the goals of school music programs. Vocal and instrumental sight reading are used to indicate the level of development of cognitive skills in music. In this study, vocal and instrumental sight reading served as a basis for determining public school orchestra students' cognitive development in music. Vocal sight-reading and instrumental sight-reading performances of 143 orchestra students in 7th, 9th, and 11th grades were examined. Students' vocal sight-singing accuracy was tested using the Vocal Sight Reading Inventory (Henry, 1999). Students' instrumental sight-reading was assessed using the String Performance Rating Scale (Zdzinski & Barnes, 2002). The ANOVA procedure and the Welch test were applied to determine whether there was an improvement in students' vocal and instrumental sight reading with additional years of school orchestra experience. Results from ANOVA analyses indicated that the differences in students' instrumental sight-reading scores across the three grade levels were statistically significant [F (2,140) = 34.50], p < .01. A post hoc Bonferroni adjustment revealed that the differences between each of the groups were statistically significant (p < .05) in favor of older and more experienced students. For vocal sight reading, the Tamhane procedure revealed significant differences only between students at the 7th and 11th grade levels, also in favor of the older students (p < .05). Correlational analysis indicated that there was a strengthening of the relationship between students' vocal sight reading and instrumental sight reading as students progressed in grade level, indicating that they were continuing to develop their musicianship skills. The correlation between vocal sight-reading and instrumental sight-reading scores according to grade level were r = .36, p < .05 for 7th grade, r = .52, p < .01 for 9th grade, and r = .64, p < .01 for 11th grade. In this study I stressed the importance of both vocal sight-reading and instrumental sight-reading experiences for orchestra students and ultimately for all instrumental students. I also proposed theoretical models as to how the two skills are related and how they might be developed.