Teaching musicianship to singers in a high school choral program: a portrait of three choral directors and their pedagogies
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The purpose of this study was to examine the teaching of musicianship in a high school chorus, and explore the pedagogies of three high school choral directors. Using the praxial theory of music education (Elliott & Silverman, 2015) as a framework and a multiple-case study design with elements of portraiture, I developed case studies of three high school choral directors that included musicianship instruction as a regular part of their rehearsal activities. Research questions addressed: (a) the ways high school choral directors address and assess performing-and-listening in the rehearsal to build the musicianship of their singers through sight-singing, audiation, performance practice, and aesthetic elements; (b) the ways high school choral directors address conducting-and-listening in the rehearsal to build the musicianship of their singers; and (c) the ways high school choral directors foster musical creativity of their singers as part of a plan to build their musicianship. The primary means of data collection were interviews, rehearsal observations, and document review. I conducted observations using the rehearsal planning model advocated by Abrahams and John (2015) as a guidepost. Results indicate that the development of musicianship among high school choral students does not rest exclusively on instruction in areas such as sight-singing, music theory, performance practice, piano proficiency, and vocal technique, but rather through the values asserted by Elliott (1995) and Elliott and Silverman (2015), which serve as the foundation of music education: self-growth, self-knowledge, and the emotional experience of musicing and musical enjoyment. Implications for music education include incorporating constructivist strategies in instruction, moving toward student-centered rehearsals, and devoting meaningful time to listening and assessment in order to empower student musicianship.