An investigation into the role of choral music education in the secondary school
Quinn, Ramona M.
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The choral medium is an established tradition in the public high school. Aside from the common goal of preparing music for performance, there are no guaranteed similarities among programs. Many factors dictate the design and implementation of the program. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of high school choral education and to formulate a statement describing the philosophy and practice which exists today. Surveys regarding content and methodology of choral classes were developed and sent to: high school choral directors in Cook and DuPage Counties (excluding Chicago Schools): college professors who teach freshmen or sophomore music majors; and college sophomore music majors. Colleges represented were three large state universities and three private colleges. High school directors indicated an awareness of the importance of teaching musicianship skills, listing sight-reading and "basic theory" as part of their regular lessons. The majority states 75% of rehearsal time is spent on performance skills, 25% on theory skills. College instructors in all areas listed specific weaknesses encountered in the underclassman student. Many were in fundamental skills. Choral students were generally found to be less prepared than their instrumental peers. There was a consensus among college students that basic musicianship skills had not been part of their high school education. In ranking their high school experiences from most to least helpful, only 25% indicated the choral experience to be the most helpful. Choices included theory class, music camp and keyboard, the latter scoring the highest with k0%. That musicianship and performing skills both are necessary for. a complete music education is a belief shared by all populations surveyed. The secondary school program, perhaps because of an overemphasis on performance, is not effectively educating the young choral musician. If music is not to be regarded as a frill, it must not be taught as one. Therefore, it is recommended that the teaching of basic musicianship skills must be included in the rehearsal and applied to the living music to produce a sensitive and intellectual artist.