Church music education through the junior choir
King, Astrid Wendth
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Church Music Education through the Junior Choir is a thesis which should be of value to junior choir directors in general and to choir teachers in the parochial school in particular. Music instruction in the parochial school varies in accord with the church music concepts of the particular denomination under which the school operates. As is to be expected, education in sacred music is most often the concern of the liturgical churches and materials are most limited which are practical for the parochial schools of an evangelical denomination. Because of this the music program in these religious day schools is inclined toward the secular in emphasis and the problem calls for the making available to its teachers an organized body of materials and methods useful in developing children's choirs as the medium for sacred music instruction. It is evident that those churches which carry on a program of Christian education through the parochial school system possess an unusual opportunity for developing in children this appreciation for the best in church music. It is likewise evident that this potentiality is too often neglected in most of these schools. The school music program has more often been built around public school music concepts and therefore is not completely satisfactory for the church related elementary school. This thesis attempts to bring together the best methods of many outstanding junior choir directors from both the church and the school. The methods recommended are known to bring results and any teacher qualified to handle classroom music could also qualify for junior choir leadership by following these helpful suggestions. The thesis proper is concerned with the methods by which an effective choral organization of children's voices may be developed. It then turns to the task of presenting in an organized way the materials available for such a program. The physiological aspects of handling children's voices through the elementary grades are presented. These include stabilizing the singing voices of primary children, capitalizing on the abilities of the intermediate grade children, which group supplies the greatest potentiality for effective junior choir singing, and handling the changing voices of upper grade children, a phenomenon which is sure to upset the junior choir organization in any situation. The chapter dealing with the development of effective choral singing includes many pertinent suggestions for building a choral ensemble. It is concerned with the blending of voices through the merging of individual qualities into a satisfactory choral tone. Suggestions as to desirable mental attitudes and drills for the improving of such are also offered. The problems involved in the nastering of the musical score are reviewed briefly including the subject of note reading which is based on the use of sacred materials rather than the secular approach utilized in most school music programs. Suggestions as to singing in two, three and four parts are made and effective devices for song interpretation are included. Throughout the chapters devoted to vocal and choral problems the accepted methods of leading school music educators are recommended but the application of these nethods is through sacred music whenever possible. An attempt has also been made to use only those materials which have proved successful by choir directors who are educationally minded in their work with children. Considerable emphasis has been placed on representative materials and much discussion is given to the various forms of sacred music available for such a program. This is of particular importance in an evangelical church music situation, since such a church is too often limited in its church music concepts. Granted that the potential junior choir director has thoroughly digested and grasped the principles of training advocated throughout the discussion on method, she still faces the problem of applying these sound choral procedures to desirable sacred music materials. It is in this respect that many parochial school teachers feel inadequately prepared. In view of this, a large portion of the thesis deals with the many forms of sacred music and the source of such materials. The importance of the hymnal as a textbook is first considered by the classifying of tunes and the citing of representative examples. Included are plainsongs, chorales, psalm tunes, and the hymn tunes of England and America, all of which deserve a place in the junior choir program. A suggestive list of hymn texts appropriate for child singers is given as well as suggestions for the use of America's religious folk music. Forms of choir music are surveyed and amply illustrated. Appropriate anthems, and sources from which they may be drawn, are pointed out. An attempt is also made to acquaint the choir teacher with those musical forms which should not be neglected such as the mass and motet, the Russian liturgical anthem, the sacred art song and an introduction to sacred oratorio. Some suggestions on combining children and adults are offered as a result of practical and successful application. Throughout the entire thesis the aim is to provide some sacred music experience for every child enrolled in a parochial school and though this objective calls for nonselectivity as to its participating members, the results are sure to be satisfying if the methods and materials advocated are conscientiously followed. The final concern of the thesis is a listing of individual anthems and collections which are practical, artistic and worthy of a place in any program of sacred music education for children. Included are anthems for general use and for special occasions such as Christmas, Easter and Mother's Day. The choir director will find many suggestions for one, two, three and four part treble choirs. Only anthems which have been effective with junior choirs have been included. The director will find ample suggestions for the beginning choir as well as many settings which will challenge the children and director as well. The set of appendices is important. Included is a bibliography of junior choir collections in annotated form which will be of great help to any one contemplating the purchase of a collection for choir use, a list of children's hymnals and some very practical vocalises on tone blending, tuning up, polyphonic training, etc. It is to be hoped that this effort will be instrumental in inspiring many potential junior choir directors to join the ranks of the devoted men and women who visualize the junior choir program as an important phase of the field of church music education in general.
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University
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