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ERIC Number: EJ1102254
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: EISSN-2379-9021
The Effects of Technology on the Sight-Reading Achievement of Beginning Choir Students
Petty, Colleen; Henry, Michele L.
Texas Music Education Research, p23-28 2014
The ultimate goal for many choral directors is to develop independent musicians within the ensemble. The ability to sing a series of pitches and rhythms at first sight is widely understood to be a fundamental building block of independent musicianship. Yet sight-reading is not simply a holistic skill. There are separate components of sight-reading, including pitch, rhythm, and harmonic context which must be considered when deciding how to teach sight-reading in the choral classroom. Recently, significant strides have been made in the development of instructional technologies utilizing voice-recognition capabilities. As a result, this opens up a new field of inquiry for choral and vocal researchers. The advent of new technologies and voice recognition software, along with the previously determined effective use of individual assessment as a teaching strategy, calls for an exploration into the possible benefits of using technology both to teach and to assess vocal sight-reading skills. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of technology and individual practice on the vocal sight-reading achievement of beginning choir students. Research questions include: (1) What is the ability level of beginning choir singers in sight-reading? (2) Is there a significant gain in sight-reading scores after an 8-week instructional period using technology and/or individual practice? (3) Is there a significant difference in the scores of those who use technology versus those who do not use technology in instruction and individual practice time? and (4) What is the effect of applied music instruction or previous choral experience on vocal sight-reading ability in for beginning choir singers? Participants in this study were sixth grade beginning choir students attending a suburban intermediate school in central Texas (N= 83). Participants were randomly assigned to gender-specific choir classes. Two classes were designated as technology classes (n = 47) and two classes were designated as non-technology classes (n = 36). Each choir class met daily for approximately 48 minutes. Prior to any sight-reading instruction, each participant was given a pretest to determine initial sight-reading ability. The pretest consisted of one of two similar 4-measure melodies and a written survey concerning previous musical experience. During the treatment period, all choir classes received teacher-directed instruction in sight-reading. Using identical materials, technology classes received instruction using the 2012b version of SmartMusic software and a headset microphone, while non-technology classes received instruction using a projection camera. Throughout the eight-week treatment period, each participant underwent a weekly individual assessment session, either using SmartMusic or paper notation, and a continuously-running video camera. At the end of the treatment period, participants completed a posttest in the same format as the pretest, using the melody that they did not see during pretesting. All performances were digitally recorded for scoring at a later time. Two similar melodies containing basic pitch (scalar motion and tonic skips/leaps) and rhythm (quarter and eighth notes) skills were composed for testing purposes. Participants were randomly assigned one melody for pretesting, and received the other melody for the posttest. The two testing melodies each contained 12 notes. One point credit was awarded for each correct pitch and for each correct rhythm, resulting in a potential total score of 24 for each melody. The participants in this study had minimal sight-reading skill prior to instruction, as evidenced by the mean score of 5.77/24 on the pretest. After the eight-week treatment period, the mean score on the posttest was 14.02/24, an increase of 143%. It is clear that vocal sight-reading skill improved throughout the treatment period. Between those who experienced instruction with technology and those who did not, no significant difference was found. [Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Texas Music Educators Association (San Antonio, TX, Feb 2014).]
Texas Music Educators Association. 7900 Centre Park Drive, Austin, TX 78754. Tel: 512-452-0710; Fax: 512-451-9213; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 6; Intermediate Grades; Middle Schools; Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Texas
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A