The teaching of choral sight singing: analyzing and understanding experienced choral directors' perceptions and beliefs
Sanders, Ronald Byron
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The purpose of this study was to analyze and understand experienced choral directors' perceptions and beliefs on a variety of topics surrounding the teaching and learning of secondary choral music sight singing or sight reading. A focus group of eight highly successful college, high school and middle school choral music educators addressed seven questions. The investigation gathered qualitative data that covered the purposes of teaching sight singing, the positive or negative attributes of movable Do, fixed Do and numbers, and a review of sight-singing curricula. Further, the investigation gathered data on the effect, if any, of an instrumental student's sight-singing ability and the use and effectiveness of Curwen or Kodály hand signs and sight-singing assessment for students. Additional data was gathered concerning how secondary music educators were evaluated. Results suggested that the focus group's purpose in teaching sight singing was to produce independent, self-reliant musicians. Individual sight-singing assessment was deemed important and should focus on how singers progressed. Music composed specifically for sight-singing contests or festivals should contain challenging notes and rhythms, dynamic changes, phrase markings and at least one tempo or meter change. Further, music teacher evaluations were discussed, coded and analyzed. Twenty-nine recommendations are offered that are designed to make sight singing more efficient and more effective in today's choral music classrooms. While there are some very good sight-singing materials in print, music publishers who contemplate printing new instructional material should offer a holistic approach to musicianship. Adjudicators for choral sight-singing festivals and contests should be trained. Choirs entering a sight-singing performance should be adjudicated on musical elements such as meter changes, correct tempi, phrasing, tone, articulation and dynamics, not merely on performing the correct notes and rhythms. Many more recommendations were offered to secondary and college choir teachers, supervisors, contest chairmen, adjudicators, composers, music publishers and students. The investigation was not intended to determine a recommended method for sight-singing instruction nor assessment. The purpose of this study was to understand and analyze experienced choral directors' perceptions and beliefs concerning sight singing on secondary campuses.
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