An Examination of Sight Singing Methods for Elementary Music Students

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An Examination of Sight Singing Methods for Elementary Music Students
Witaszek, Mary K.
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, FL
College of Fine Arts; University of Florida
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
Project in lieu of thesis

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Committee Chair:
Bazan, Dale E.
Committee Co-Chair:
Edmund, David C.


Subjects / Keywords:
High school students ( jstor )
Music education ( jstor )
Music learning ( jstor )
Music students ( jstor )
Music teachers ( jstor )
Musical register ( jstor )
Musical rhythm ( jstor )
Sight singing ( jstor )
Singing ( jstor )
Vocal music ( jstor )


The purpose of this project was to investigate research studies on the best method for teaching sight-singing to elementary age students in a general music classroom. Various databases were used for locating articles related to the topic of sight singing in the elementary music classroom. Articles, research papers, and books were studied to note current trends in the United States on the optimal methods used to teach sight-singing. The articles discussed all noted that there are many methods currently in use in the United States including the Gordon method, the Orff approach, the Kodály method, and the Dalcroze approach. There was no agreement among the studies on which approach emerged as the best. However, many of the researchers agreed that there may not be just one best approach. Instead, the researchers stated that depending on the teacher, the students, and the teaching situation, the best method may be different for each school. It is up to the teacher to determine which method works best for their students.
General Note:
Music Education terminal project

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University of Florida Institutional Repository
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University of Florida
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Copyright Mary K. Witaszek. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.


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SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 2 To my parents: Lorraine Dierkes and Ron Dierkes


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 3 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS David C. Edmund for guiding me through this process! Without you, this project would not have been possible!


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 4 Abstract The purpose of this project was to investigate research studies on the best method for teaching sight singing to elementary age students in a general music classroom. Various databases were used for locating articles related to the topic of sight singing in the elementary mu sic classroom. Articles, research papers, and books were studied to note current trends in the United States on the optimal methods used to teach sight singing. The articles discussed a ll noted that there are many methods currently in use in the United States including the Gordon method, the Orff a pproach, the Kodály method, and the Dalcroze a pproach . There was no agreement among the studies on which approach emerged as the best. However, many of the researchers agreed that there ma y not be just one b est approach. I nstead, the researchers stated that depending on the teacher, the students, and the teaching situation, the best method may be different for each school. It is up to the teacher to determine which method works best for their students.


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 5 An Examination of Sight Singing Methods for Elementary Music Students Introduction Heffernan (1968) stated: Music reading is often neglected in elementary school music classes. It is more immediately satisfying to have children learn songs by rote; teaching the rudiments is likely to be dismissed as dull, uncreative, and out of date. This is a regrettable situation because some schools have shown that it is possible to teach children to read music fluently, that their ability to read immeas urably increases their comprehension and enjoyment of music, and that learning to read music need not be a dull, joyless, and uncreative experience (p. vi) . According to the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary (2013), sight singing is best the singing of a piece of written music at sight Sight singing definition , 2013 ). Throughout the history of music education in the United States, sight singing has been an ce of teaching music reading skills to children has been debated almost since the inception of public by music educators reading was considered to be the most important subject taught in music education. However, shortly after the turn of singing was recognized again. Sight singing remains important in the music educatio n curriculum. Killian and Henry (2005) stress the importance of sight singing in the music education


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 6 (Consortium, 1994) emphasize the importance of sight singing dev elopment for both elementary In order for students to become proficient musicians, they must learn to sight sing. There are many methodologies in use to teach sight singing to students. According to Durocher (2006) singing methodologies to use in classroom situations, the results have been inconclusive, yet several trends have emerg (p. 44). This review of literature is intended to evaluate the research performed on sigh t singing methodologies in order to determine the trends that have emerged regarding sight singing instruction. Additionally, the strategies that have been prove n or suggested as the most effective in regards to sight singing instruction will be detailed. The purpose of this capstone paper is to collect information regarding the instructional methodologies of sight singing in the elementary school music class. After reading and analyzing the information found in many research articles, recommendations will be made and trends will be cited regarding sight singing methodologies. The goal of this study is to identify the trends in sight singing instruction and en courage elementary music educators to utilize the trends in their classroom to teach their students to read vocal music. ( sight singing definition, 2013 ). Sight singing is not to be confused with sight reading. musicians . The ability to sight read in a music classroom is used more often in reference to the expectations a music educator mig ht have towards instrumentalists regarding their ability to be able to read a piece of music and play it at a high level on the first look through. will indicate performing 80% or more of a sight reading or si nging passage correctly. For


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 7 had previously not utilized solfège in his music teaching methods. However, after he saw solfège being used by other choirs, he notice d immediate results. After introducing and training the girls in solfège , Grace noted that the girls in his classes could sing a three part song a Capella Sight singing is s imilar to sight reading, but it is applied to vocalists. Sight singing is the ability to sing through a piece of music at a high level on the first look through. Many students have difficulties with this skill. In addition, many adults have difficulties with this skill indicating that there a lack of sight singing training in general music classes. At the time this research was started, the National Standards of Music Education stated that students should be able to sight sing ( National standards of mus ic education , n.d. ) . Recently, the National Standards of Music Education were revised. In the new National Standards, there are no longer nine, broad points. They are broken down into categories with grade levels: Pre K, K 4, 5 8, and 9 12. The standards are much more detailed than before and place a heavy emphasis on sight singing in all grades. In K (that is, sylla bles, numbers, or letters) to read simple pitch notation in the treble c lef in major ision 2014 ) and in grades 5 at sight simple melodies in both t program: A new v ision 2014). Notice that the National Standards do not place emphasis on any one method or which leaves it open to interpretation. It is our duty , as music educators, to adhere to the standards , and because the ability to sight sing is included in the standards, students must be taught to sight sing . However, the standards do not offer guidance on how to teach sight singing


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 8 so it is up to the teac her to determine which method works best in their classroom. Students who learn to sight sing from a young age will have a distinct advantage in the musical world over those who never learned to sight sing. This paper will review previous resear c h articles to determine the best method to use when teaching sight singing to elementary students in a general music elementary classroom. Specific research questions are: 1. What is the best school grade level in which to introduce the concept of sight singin g? 2. What are the recommended practices for teaching sight singing? 3. Are any sight singing methods proven to be more effective than others or can multiple methods produce the results desired by music educators ? Review of Literature Through the history of sight singing methodologies, several trends have appeared to emerge. The use of kinesthetic aids such as hand signs, the use of syllables with regard to pitch, and learning by rote before note have appeared time and time again throughout music education h istory. Lowell Mason (1844) learn by imitation, while [their] organs are flexible and pl . 15 16). He states that learning a language, they can imitate sounds much better than an adult can. Due to this suggestion , he urges that young children be taught to sing and imitate sounds from an early age. Many music teachers believe that learning to sight sing is not an i mportant skill in comparison to the other things that must be taught in the music classroom. Elliott (1982) notes that we see that most public school students do not participate in performance ensembles such as orchestras, bands, and choirs. He states th at the importan ce of teaching students to read music has been debated since public school music first began. In addition, he stated that previously,


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 9 reading music was the emphasis and primary reason for having school music programs but at the turn of the participation in song, personality may be developed, and the individual may f ree himself of fetters as he gradually grows in self it important to teach students to sing and read music because the National Arts Standards requires teachers to do so, but it is also good f or the human soul. For thousands of years, the only way to learn a piece of music was by ear. Songs were passed down orally from generation to generation. With the invention of music notation, anyone could learn a song. They only had to read it in orde r to learn it. Elliott (1982) gave several arguments that people who are against the teaching of music reading usually make: only a small percentage of students will use the skill in high school and beyond. Another argument Elliott suggests is that t eac hing students to read music when they dislike it will ultimately make the students hate music in general, and little music making takes place during a class that is full of drilling a skill. Elliott then gives several arguments that people who are for the teaching of music reading usually make: O ne of the objectives of our program should be to produce independent musicians, there is a parallel between reading music and ad and write it? He then goes on to state that ignoring sight singing will trivialize the arts. The need for this project presents itself due to the wide variety of methodologies that are currently used to teach sight singing to elementary music students. There is not one agreed upon method used in elementary music classrooms. This review of literature will attempt to identify


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 10 what methodologies are most commonly used in elementary music classrooms, at what grade le vel they should be employed, how effect ive are the methodologies , and which methodology emerges as the most effective . In order to discover the best method or approach to teaching sight singing in the elementary music classroom, it is important to determine what are the most commonly used metho ds and approaches in the classroom today. the search for the perfect sight singing method and/or system has been in progress for several hundred years and countless attempts have been offered the past several hundred years, there has been a d ebate on the value of moveable do versus fixed do. A moveable d o system means that, no matter what key you are in, d o is always the tonic. For example, in the key of c m a o. However, in o no matter wha always r e no matter what key you were in. istorically, relative pitch (moveable) was taug ht using solfège , and absolute pitch (fixed) used the letter names of the notes solfège syllables for absolute pitch (fixed) because it allowed for better vowels and vocal production. After this, some a reas used solfège syllables only for moveable d o and some areas used it for bot h moveable do and fixed d o which created controversy and confusion. In addi tion to the debate on moveable do versus fixed d on how to approach sig ht singing in a minor key the students cal the students cal ajor k ey.


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 11 Other educators use numbers or note names instead of solfège syllables. Some educators use numbe ajor key. These educators will either call the tonic in a si mply have their students sing Roe states that junior and high school students should learn to sight sing by using the method they used in elementary school so tha t it is a similar progression and techniques. When 143). He states that junior and high school teachers should discover what system was used in the elementary schools and continue to add to that system. Most researchers , including Casarow, point to four methods or approaches as being the most commonly used in the present day music classroom : the Kodály method, the Orff approach, the Gordon method, and the Dalcroze method. Benward and Carr (1991) encourage teachers to choose the method they are comfortable with. They do not state that one method is better than the other; they only state that teachers s hould use the method with which they are comfortable in order to give their students a better chance of success. They call sight singing a means to an end; sight singing is just a step in the path towards achieving audiation, the ability to hear music in History of Sight Singing in the United States Lowell Mason is considered the founding father of music education in the United States. Manual of the Boston academy of music, for instruction in the el ements of vocal music, on the system of Pestalozzi . This document describes He cautions that his is a guide of


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 12 (Mason p. iv). Many of his ideas were borrowed from Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. Lowell Mason was born in 1792 in Medfield, Massachusetts. According to Pembert on (p. 49); he then went on to learn to play myriad instruments and directed the town band by age sixteen. Mason, though he enjoyed music, did not originally plan to become a music educator when he was an adult. Instead, like his father, he became a businessman. He moved to Savannah, Georgia when he was twenty one years old to work in retail and later in banking. During his fifteen years in Savannah, Georgia, he took part time jobs conducting at singing schools and leading church choirs. In 1827, Mason moved to Boston. While working for a bank, he directed church choirs. In addition, he led the Boston Handel and Haydn Society. By the time he was forty year s old, he no longer worked for a bank and instead, he worked as a fulltime musician. Lowell Mason promoted music in the Boston public school system. In 1838, Boston Public Schools accepted vocal music as part of the school curriculum. Before the Boston schools accepted vocal music into the curriculum, Mason donated his time and worked fo r free at a Grammar School in order to prove that school children could sing and needed music in the curriculum. Mason taught in the Boston Public School system from 1838 to 1851. While he taught, he also supervised other teachers in the Boston Public S choo l system . Finally in 1851, he left the Boston Public School system. During the 1800s, Mason was a champion for music education in the school system. He urged that every child, and even every adult, should learn to sing. He believed in rote singing


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 13 b believes that an ear can be trained to hear musically as well. He warns that if you neglect the ear, it will become dull and a person will not be able to discr iminate between sounds because of it. Riley (1990) discusses the development of music in the Louisville public school system from 1844 1879. In her article, he describes the teaching methods use d at the time , the rationale for the music program, and the choice for music curricula which includes books, folk songs, European songs, and songs by authors of the books. Riley (1990) attempts to describe how music in the Louisville public schools in the nineteenth century relates to the history of music educati on. According to Riley (1990), Louisville was one of the first public school cities in the United States to include music in the curriculum. 1800s due to the passengers an d merchants that traveled up and down the river. 1860s, at least seven m usical societies had been established in Louisville due to the demand. Parlor music was also popular in Louisville in the middle 1800s, reflected the trend from New England. ic schools w as, in part, an attempt by the school board to make the public school curriculum more like that of the private In 1844, music became an official part of t he public school curriculum in Louisville. This was just six years after Lowell Mason had established a school music program in the public schools of Boston. William C. Van Meter, the first music teacher, earned $350 dollars during the first


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 14 year. Howev er, funding, after the first year, decreased and eventually Van Meter taught without pay for half a year which lead to his resignation in 1846. After he resigned, the position was not immediately filled. d as military hospitals. Classes were held in church basements but the budget to support music education was not there. The female high school still held music classes because a professor independently taught lessons in music and was paid directly by his students instead of through the school board. By 1861, the school board officially hi red him to teach three classes per week. Towards the end of the war, music began to be reintroduced into the schools and had plenty of support by the parents. As a resu lt of the strong support from the parents, the school board reinstated the music program. established the first public school music education system in Boston. According to Ri ley (1990), 83). The debate made its way from Boston to Louisville as well. Two music teachers employed by the school board of Louisville each advocated one over the other. Luther Whiting Mason approach was more generally accepted at the time. He made sure the students learned the theory behind the music in order to perform imitated intervals and tunes b efore they began to learn notation. His students could successfully


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 15 sing scales by using intervals as well as dictate difficult melodic exercises as a result of their confidence and knowledge of intervals. oard adopted a curriculum that all three curriculum was a combination of the rote and the note reading methods. The younger students learned by rote and imitation but th ey also practiced drawing notes and reading simple exercises. The students in the middle grades learned by note and rote and studied music theory as well. By the time students were in junior high school and high school, they were expected to be able to s ight sing proficiently. Concurrent to the music education movement in the United States, London was going through its own music education reform during this time. Harvey Grace lived from 1874 1944 in London, England. He was a noted organist, composer, a nd music educator. He was an editor of Grace (1943) lived in the early 20th century in London. He stated that he began to work not pre viously used solfège . He saw immediate results and noted that the girls in his weekly class could sight sing a three part song, unaccompanied, without serious mistake if given their d o. He also stated that even the elementary students he taught co uld accurately sight sing a piece of music. He noted that he began to see a decline in sight singing over the years. He began to see choirs where the singers could only learn by rote and noted that people expected immediate results because we are in an singing. He stated that, if they did not, the art of choral singing would die out. The Gordon Method


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 16 The Gordon m ethod, prioritizing audiation, is one widespread music teaching method in the United States. Gordon (2007) states speak, read, and write language with comprehension, music literacy includes the ability to listen, speak, read, and write music notation with comprehension He goes on to say that, despite this, many teachers are no t convinced of the importance of learning to read music because students can perform and listen to music without having to know how to read it. In addition, m any teachers and students get frustrated with the process of learning to sight sing. He ite, and audiate music, they gain the ab i lity to improvise and create music . Gordon believes this should be the ultimate goal of music education . apacity to and suggests that all students do not share the same level of music aptitude. He states that, just like with everything else, some students will have a high level of music aptitude and some will have a lower level of music aptitude. He said that even tho ugh this is the case, all students should have the right and ability to learn music. He states that it is the job of the teacher and parents to make sure that no student becomes frustrated with learning music and that each student should have the ability to feel satisfaction after making music. Gordon says that using some sort of system to teach pitches and even rhythm is of high importance. Before they came up with any kind of notation system, the only way to learn music was by ear as music was passed do wn from generation to generation. Gordon (2007) states that


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 17 (p read music. Over the years his syllables were shaped into mi, fa, s ol, la, and t that Lowell Mason began to utilize the tonic solfa system as a way to replace the old fasola system that had been used previously. The Gordon evaluates the fixed d o system. On e of the benefits of a fixed d o is that it is easy to articulate. However, he says that to use the fixed do system, students must already be able to audiate music. He g oes on to state that the fixed d o system does not work when teachers are trying to teach audiation and music readin g at the same time. The fixed d o system works best to teach music notation through audiation when students already have the abi lity to read music. The fixed d o system should be reserved for advanced students in the conser vatory level. Gordon then explores the use of letter names. He says that letter names can also be troublesome when learning audiation and music reading at the same time. However, he does name system does have the advantage of (Gordon p. 70). He cautions that an understanding of theory should be a prerequisite of utilizing the pitch letter name system. Gordon then explores using numbers instead of letter names. He states that many believe the use of nu mbers is the most efficient way to teach music reading to students. He states that many believe since children are already familiar with numbers, it is easy for them to associate the numbers with pitches in sequence. He then cautions that the number syst em also has several confused when asked to count backwards as is the case when they are descending in pitch. The


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 18 confusion continues to skipping pitches; children are often confused when they need to skip numbers. Numbers are also used for many other things in music including finger positions for different instrument s, as well as rhythm and counting. Children will get confused when numbers are used for each system. Gordon then discusses the moveable do system with the d o based minor. Every tonic or resting pitch is labeled as d o no matter what key they are in. Whe n using chromatics in a scale, university music programs. Gordon states that it is difficult to acquire the skill of audiation by using this system without a prerequi site knowledge of music theory and notation. Ascending and descending tones must be learned for each scale. Thi s leads Gordon to the moveable d o system with a l a based minor. Gordon states that s ays this system promotes the development of audiation. Despite the value of this system, it is not perfect. Different pitches use the same syllable which can sometimes be confusing to students. There are many to nal systems that can be used in the classroom. Gordon urges the name of the resting tone change with a change of tonality? and 2) Does the syllable name of th e to audiate is also an important goal. If so, the best fit would be to use a system where the name the of the resting tone changes with tonality but stays th e same with keyality. There is only one system that fits these criteria: moveable do with a la based minor. The Dalcroze Approach


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 19 expression rather than an end in itself was Jaques Emile Jaques Dalcroze, a Swiss musician and educator, was born in 1865. He developed a technique called eurhythmics which coordinates music and movement. Even though the Dalcroze a pproach was originally designed to help the already musically gifted student, it began to be used for students who were musically average as well. Students were asked to feel rhythms through their bodies which helped them internalize the rhythm. According to Thomsen Dalcroze so lfège engages the ear and the mind in chords, functional harmony, and key relationships, in addition to scales, intervals, and melodies Just as with the eurhythmics, there is not a fixed standard or curriculum when approaching Dalcroze solfège . The approach is taught by the master teachers to others; some of the master teachers having been pupils of Dalcroze himself. As a result, the Dalcroze a pproach offers many paths that can be chosen by the individual teacher. While learning solfège und er the Dalcroze a pproach , students begin immediately w ith a complete diatonic scale: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, and d o. Unlike Gordon, Dalcroze solfège utilize s a fixed do scale with middle c being do, d being r e, etc. In addition, when talking about t he function of the pitches, the Dalcroze a pproach utilizes terms such as dominant and leading tone. It is suggested that each of the solfège exercises have some sort of rhythmic component, a musical goal, and should somehow promote the development of inne r hearing. In addition, many of the s solfège exercises is accompanied by some sort of movement activity as well since that is the basis of the Dalcroze a pproach . One of the goals of Dalcroze solfège is to be able to identify half steps and whole steps. Students will utilize solfège to do so such as singing, do to r e is a whole step. Another important


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 2 0 goal of Dalcroze solfège is to learn the intervals. In order to do this, students will singing thi s such as, do to r e is a major second. This is importan t for developing inner hearing. Despite utilizes a fixed d o system, when students sing do to do scales, t hey utilize more of a moveable d o syst em. For example, when singing c sharp to c s harp, studen ts will not say s gthy and instead shorten it to d o. This is used for both major and minor keys. The Orff Approach Carl his musical training at the Munich Academy of Music and studied also with (Thresher p. 43). Orff published five volumes of Das Schulwerk Musik fur Kinder. These (Thresher p. 43). Orff believed that children should learn to create. Music was a great outlet to music, which grows out of his own experiences in speaking and singing, moving, dancing, and Orf f believes in the gradual and natural progression from speech patterns to rhythmic patterns to melodic patterns to simple harmony. material that came out of the origin al volumes by Orff and Keetman. The volumes are full of songs and instrumental accompaniment parts. In addition, it may refer to the supplemental materials that were created to go alongside the original volumes. However, it is more than that. more significantly to identify a pedagogy, a general procedure for guiding children through several phases of musical development: (1) exploration discovery of the possibilities available


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 21 in both sound an movement; (2) imitation developing basic skills in rhythmic speech and body percussion (clapping, finger snapping, thigh clapping or patschen , foot stamping, and others), in rhythmic and free movement through spa ce, in singing, and in playing instruments nonpitched percussion, the special Orff pitched percussion (xylophones, glockenspiels, metallophones), and the recorder as a melody instrument; (3) improvisation extending the skill with these components to th e point where each individual can initiate new patterns and combinations as well as contribute to the group activity based on this ability, (4) creation combining material from any or all of the previous phases into original small forms such as rondos, t heme, and variations, and mini suites; and a special significance, transforming literary material (fables, natural or rhythmic speech, movement, si nging, and pla ying instruments (p. 54) Orff begins with speech patterns because it allows students to get a grasp of rhythm without having to worry about meter. Simple speech patterns can come from any meter and children can experience success when speaking them. Orf percussion, to demonstrate rhythmic patterns. Utilizing clapping, stamping, and patting will repeat over and over. Afte r students grasp speech patterns, patschen, and ostinati, the students transfer patterns to a variety of instruments; from small percussion instruments such as triangles, hand drums, and cymbals to larger percussion instruments such as glockenspiels, and x ylophones. Orff also uses the recorder in his Schulwerk to incorporate new ways to perform a melody. han not, is considered the starting


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 22 point in elementary music. However, Orff did not use the major scale as the starting point in his Schulwerk. Instead, he used the major scale as the goal or the final point. At first, the tonic is avoided, instead Orf f decided to emphasis the descending minor third interval. This pattern occurred naturally with children when they were outside playing. For example the song titled Orff gradually adds in the pitches. For example, after the minor third interval (Sol Mi), Orff adds Mi e and Do. With pentatonic scale, rhythm patterns, patschen, and a variety of instruments, students can create simple harmony. On instruments, students utilize borduns, or open fifths. These borduns are usually played like a drone which is reminiscent of medieval music. ven though the Orf f Schulwerk method is not generally associated with solfège like the Dalcroze and Kodály methods, solfège instruction is still a part of the instruction before anything else, it is helpful to relate those intervals to solfège pitches. The Orff a pproach Schulwerk can be described as a model for design of learning experiences; its main t hrust is Orff Schulwerk is a model for teaching music to students. The goal of the Orff Schulwerk a pproach is for students to become comfortable with crea ting, performing, and experiencing music. The use of solfège , while note generally associated with the approach, can only help to


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 23 enhance the m usical instruction of the Orff a pproach. Many Orff certified teachers utilize solfège when teaching the intervals Orff outlined in his approach. The Kodály Method Kodály is a Hungarian composer, philosopher, ethnomusicologist, and educator born in 1882. He created what is called the Kodály m ethod or the Kodály Concept. It is said that h e heard students singing songs they learned as children and it sparked his interest in music education. The goal he created for his program was the development of musical literacy. The program is formed around Kodály belief that (1) true musical literacy the ability to read, write, and think music is the right of every human being; (2) music learning music begin with the voice; (3) the education of the musical ear must begin in kindergarten and the primary grades (or earlier) if it is to be completely successful; (4) music skills and concepts necessary for musical literacy should be taught with folk music of the mother tongue; and (5) only music on unquestioned quality both folk and compose d should be used ( p. 25). A s a result of Kodály students work on developing their voice while developing their musical literacy as well. Tying the voice into musical literacy, it is important that students learn to sight sing accurately. Like the Gordon m ethod, Kodály utilized the moveable d o system when teaching sight singing to children. During a visit to England, Kodály was exposed to this technique. According ing his visit] were almost exclusively derived Prior to his visit to England, he has already until later that Kodály He was


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 24 determined to bring back this tradition to his native country of Hungary. He felt that the use of solfège their ability to sight sing. Kodály did not only emphasize the importance of developing the voice in relation to musical literacy. Winters (1970) states that, in the Kodály m assisted by the use of instruments, where the need to read becomes more immediately apparent to According to Winters (1970), Kodály only to be taken up when reading has already been mastered; otherwise the sound will become Kodály , many music educators who fo llow the Kodály m ethod will teach both singing and instrument playing before music reading has been mastered. Kodály believed in drawing materials from the native county such as folk songs. These were songs the students would and should be fam iliar with . He believed that, by using solmization, students could sing better than if they did not utilize it. He decided to use solmization to teach folk music of his country to his students in order to promote music literacy, a knowledge of music from their cou ntry, a better singing technique, and better intonation. Which Method is Best? The four most common music education methods currently utilized in the United Stat es are the Gordon method, Dalcroze method, Orff a pproach, and Kodály m ethod. Each of them us e different systems for teaching sight si nging to students. The Gordon m ethod uses a mo veable d o system; the Dalcroze method uses of a fixed do system; the Orff a pproach relies on intervals, first for the pentaton ic scale, then built up to the major s cale ; and the Kodály method uses moveable d o with the Curwen hand signs.


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 25 Which of these methods produces the best results? Which method leaves students with the best understanding of how to sing a piece of music on sight for the first time? Or is it another method completely, such as numbers, note names, or neutral syllables? Does movement of some kind aid in the ability to sight sing; hand signs or bodily movement? To determine whether or not the Kodály m ethod was, indeed, the best method, Harvey, Garwood, and Palencia (1987) attempted to discover the transfer effects and learning effects of vocal pitch matching of intervals. The subjects in the experiment heard an interval played and then had t o accurately sing it back. The researchers questioned whether subjects who received training on only the interval they were tasked to sing back would be more successful than those who received training on various intervals before the test. The researchers proposed that the Kodály method would be the best m ethod to use in this experiment because it is widely known and practiced. In addition, the Kodály method requires students to become proficient at singing one interval before adding another to their repertoire. This experiment was to test to see if that aspect of the Kodály method was correct. In addition, the authors stated that two other assumptions underlying the Kodály method: 1) that the development of singing skill is helped by listening as well as singing experience and 2) that the development of singing skill does not require knowledge of results (KR). The study found that all three assumptions underlying the Kodály method received some support in the experiment. They stated that singing a new interval was better after consistent practice rather than variable practice, that this observation was evident with both listening and singing experience, and that the learnin g occurred without KR. Horton (1974) sought to compare three sight signing methods to determine which of the three methods was the most effective. He proposed the students would learn to sight sing by 1)


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 26 shape notes, 2) syllables only (sol fa syllables), and 3) songflute. He conducted his experiment from January 1972 to May 1972 in the Cleveland school system. The subjects were 6 th grade students. Each teacher taught a songflute class, a shape note class, and a syllables only class. He determined that the control group, who received no training on sight singing, did not improve in their scores from pretest to posttest. He found that the three methods used to teach sight singing were all effective and that students made significant gains from pretest t o posttest in each of the categories. He determined there were no significant differences between the methods which show that a variety of methods can be used if used correctly. Killian and Henry (2005) without hearing it first (sight Like many other researchers, they start off their research paper by quoting The National Standard that emphasizes sight singing. They state that there are many textbooks and methods that contain strategies for teaching sight singing to students but there is not a consensus for this method is the best. They have found the most common methods used are moveable do, moveable numbers, fixed do, neutral syllables such as loo, letter names, and intervals. Killian Killian and Henry (2005 ) also mention that some previous studies have included the idea of group versus individual achievement in regards to sight singing. They also mention that some studies have utilized individual assessment, tonal patterns, and traditional notation versus s olfège symbols. In their Review of Literature they found contradictory findings. They created the study in order to determine if there was an difference when students had a 30 second practice


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 27 time prior to sight singing, does it help only one level of si nger (low, medium, or high accuracy singers), and are there any observable practice strategies used by the singers. Killian and Henry (2005) c onducted an experiment using 200 high school all state choir camp singers. Despite this being a high school e xperiment, the information observed by the researchers is also helpful in elementary music classes. They created two melodies that were modeled after examples used in the Texas All State Choir audition. Rhythm tasks were constructed in the same way. The testing procedures were also modeled after those used for the Texas All State Choir audition. Students were allowed 20 seconds to study the sequence before they were asked to sing it. The students entered a practice room with a test administrator (a rese archer or music graduate student), were given instruction for the first melody, and then the test administrator would play the tonic triad and first pitch of the melody. Students then had their 30 second practice time, then the triad and first pitch were played again. After the first melody was done, the student would open the folder containing the second melody. They were not given a study period for the second melody. The tonic triad and starting pitch were played and the singer immediately began to s ing. The performances were recorded by both video and audio recordings. Killian and Henry (2005) determined that students were better sight singers when they had a 30 second practice time before they had to sight sing an example. In addition, they note d that the better sight singers, durin g the 30 second practice time, tonicized the key before practicing, used hand signs, sang out loud, kept the beat physically, and finished practicing within the 30 second time frame. The researchers stated that most o f the students utilized a numbers when sight singing. They also conclude d that the sight -


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 28 singing system that was used by the students made no difference in their performance and accuracy. Durocher (2006) attempted to discover whether kinesthetic movement would aid in the ability o f students to sight sing. Her study was intended to be for high school aged students however, much of what she does transfers to the e lementary level. She extensively discussed the four majo r methodologies used in elementary school music classrooms when teaching sight singing and questions why the secondary level does not utilize these methods. Durocher states that the four major methodologies come from Emile Jaques Dalcroze, Zoltan Kodály , Carl Orff, and Edwin Gordon. She states that she believes the Kodály and Orff approaches would be easily transferable to secondary level because of the ease of the methodology. However, she states that, singing pedagogy training, and facing performance time constraints, it is not surprising that some choral directors either avoid or provide perfunctory servic e to teaching sight . 17 18). This is one of the major reasons sight singing instruction is forgotten by music edu cators. She acknowledges that leaving sight singing out of music instruction is no longer an option, however, because of the push by the Music National Standards to include sight singing in the curriculum. Durocher suggests that, while teachers may sea rch for the best and most effective sight singing method, there may not be one single method that is better than another. Instead, it is important for how well the instructor teaches how to sight sing, no matter what method is used. Durocher discovered th at there is an ability difference between boys and girls and that motor music skill improves with age. She did go on to state that perhaps the difference between boys and girls would equalize over time. Durocher states that, because sight singing is now included in the Music National Standards, it is important for sight singing to be assessed. She


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 29 determin e sight . 22 23). This will hold bo th teachers and students accountable for the skill of sight singing. To conduct her experiment, she met with three teachers at different schools. She provided each teacher with training and materials to teach sight singing in their classrooms. Each teach er received a classroom set of rhythm sticks and a teacher pair of claves. The claves were used to keep the beat during sight singing passages. But only the choirs in the Experimental Group B used the rhythm sticks during their sight singing practice. S he also provided the teachers with sight singing passages, pictures of the solfège hand signs, solfège patterns, and rounds using solfège . Choi rs were split into two groups: G roup A or Group B. Group A used solfège sight singing instruction with visuals and aural activities and was considered the Control Group. Group B, the Experimental Group, received the same solfège sight singing instructions but also incorporated kinesthetic activities as well. After the inst ruction was given, Durocher discovered that students with instrumental backgrounds scored higher on the pretest than students with no instrumental background. However, on the posttest, students with instrumental backgrounds scored lower than students with out instrumental backgrounds. She also found that there was no significant difference between the sight singing achievement of males and females. In addition, she discovered that it di o, however, if the stud ents were asked to use a system that was different than what they previously used, then it could hurt them. Finally, she found no significant difference in the achievement ability of students who utilized rhythm stick kinesthetic instruction versus those who did not use it during instruction.


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 30 sing. He states that this is a skill that challeng es young musicians. He discovered research that the two dominate methods to teaching sight singing in the classroom is through the use of 1) solfège syllables (moveable d o) which is used in the Kodály method and 2) moveable pitch numbers (scale degree num bers). McClung (2008) states that the Kodály method education and the development of sight singing skills. He states that the use of aural response, visual response, kinesthe tic response, and oral response are all steps in teaching students to sight sing. ). There have been many studies that have attempted to determine whether or not hand signs aid students in sight singing. McClung stated that previous studies found no link between hand signs and improved sight singing abilities. However, he found that all of the previous studies were short term studies. McClung (2008) proposed a stu dy similar to previous research; however, the students in the study would have extensive training with sight singing and Curwen hand signs instead of a small amount of train i ng. He conducted his study with high school choristers. He invited three moderately large high school programs to join the study. All three programs had extensive training in the use of moveable solfège syllables and Curwen hand signs. He defined exten sive singing instruction, wherein directors insisted that choristers use hand


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 31 signs coupled with solfège syllables when practicing pitch drills and learning classroom reper . 258 259). Each high school had a practice room w ith a piano reserved as the testing room. Students were given a written description of the testing procedures prior to entering the testing room. The written description provided an overview of the testing procedures including the length and meter of eac h song, how the students were be prepared from the piano, the amount of preparation time, the expectation that sequence A would be done with hand signs and sequence B would be done without them, and allowances such as a false start. All of the tests were a dministered by the same person. An audio recorder was used to record the performances for later study and grading. Accuracy of sight singing was then evaluated by two different people in the same day. Raters were allowed to replay the recordings as ofte n as they needed. Curwen hand signs gave no significant statistical difference than if the students were not using vel, years of training in sight singing, and years of training with Curwen hand signs gave no difference either. Perhaps an addition al research project can be conducted on students who have extensive training in sight singing but have no training in Curwe n hand signs. After the test is performed, it can be compared to a group of students who take the same test and have both extensive training in sight singing and Curwen hand signs. Students with extensive training with Curwen hand signs may just be bette r sight singers in general. A few years earlier, McClung (2001) sought to determine what are the most common sight singing systems used by All State Choristers in Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana,


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 32 Tennessee, and Mississippi. sight He refers to audiation (used in the Gordon method) as the ability to hear these sounds inte rnally. He considers the ability to read music a fundamental goal of music education. McClung (2001) states that current sight singing practices are complicated in that sight singers must sing with accurate pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and articulation when sight singing. He states that there are a variety of systems in the United States that are currently teaching these skills. Prior to his experiment he identified 9 systems used in the United States by public schools: 1) interval nam es, 2) inflected lette r names (g, g sharp ), 3) non inflec ted letter names sharp), 4) fixed do, 5) scale degr ee numbers (1 is tonic in both m ajor and minor keys), 6) scale degree numbers (1 is tonic in Major and 6 is tonic in minor), 7) movable do (do is to nic in both Major and minor), 8) movable do (do is tonic in Major and la is tonic in minor), and 9) neutral syllables (loo, lah, etc). He also identifies time value note names, syllables, and mnemonic words, rhythm numbers as the most commonly used rhythm s ystems in the United States (p. 3). Despite the numerous studies of sight singing systems in the United States, research has found that sight singing remains one of the weakest components of music education. Many students and teachers still have problem s with sight singing. McClung (2001) says that music educators should address these discrepancies and problems. He said that many elementary and secondary teachers fail to develop proper strategies for teaching sight singing. He also states that many mu sic education programs in college fail to adequately prepare the students to sight sing and thus fail to give them the tools they need to properly teach it to their students.


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 33 McClung (2001) believes that because there is little research on which sight sing ing He conducted his survey to 2,115 high school All State choruses in Alabama, Ark ansas, Georgia, Lou i siana, Mississippi, and Tennessee during a rehearsal break. Before conducting his survey, he made sure to get permission from the All State Choral chairperson as well as the guest conductor of each choir. After he surveyed all state ch oristers in 6 states he concluded that the search for an effective system is still inconclusive. However, there is one dominant type: movable tonic and there are two dominant subtypes: melody pitch numbers and movable do. In 2009, Jam es L Reifinger Jr. s states that the aspect of pitch in regarding to sight singing are often times investigated using ton al patterns because tonal patterns are easy for teachers and students to use when practicing. However, the tonal patterns used in these types of studies vary. invol ve notation reading, because the development of skills in notation reading is a recognized something that all music educators should do with their students bec ause he believes in the value of learning to sight sing. Reifinger Jr. (2009) sought to utilize a specific group of patterns in order to identify a trend in tonal pattern features that may positively or negatively affect skill acquisition in sight singing. He determined that the use of repetition and practicing are esse ntial components of


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 34 required to read pitch notation to determine what pitches to sing and then sing the sounds represented without the aid of a mechanical sound so (Reifinger Jr. 2009 p. 206). Reifinger Jr. (2009) conducted research in second grade music classes to determine whether or not practicing solfège patterns would help students to become better sight singers . Each second grade student took a pretest, posttest, and retention test. Each test had 25 questions. No instruction was given before the pretest. Instruction was given only after the pretest and before the posttest. Of the 25 questions, 15 of the ques tions were patterns that had been practiced leading up to the posttest. The remaining 10 questions were not practiced beforehand and seen by the students only on the test. There was no pattern practice between the posttest and the retention test. The st udents were assessed each time for pitch accuracy and contour accuracy. After the tests were given, Reifinger Jr. ranked the patterns in order from easiest to most difficult. He noted that some patterns were easie r for children to sing such as sol mi s o l m i. He hypothesized that this was due to how often children sang this pattern in songs. He discovered that the seco nd easiest pattern to sing was do do do m i. He stated that some teachers focus on do and mi rather than sol and m i during the beginning of sight singing i nstruction and this may be why do do do m i was the second easiest pattern to sing. ing able to read and sing its affected by the number of different pitches used in the pattern. In addition, he realized that a y was no affected by which pitches were used but only if do, re, mi, sol, and la were used. Final ly, he determined


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 35 affected by whether or not a pattern was more melodic than others (including the use o f stepwise motion) which goes against what is advocated by the Kodály teaching approach or whether or not a pattern was more harmonic (outlining chords) which goes against what is advocated by the Music L earning Sequence or the Gordon a pproach. Reifinger J r. (2009) cautions that, when choosing materials to use in the music classroom, teachers must be mindful of what the materials are going to be used to teach. He believes that different materials should be used when teaching singing, audiation, and notatio n reading. In 2012, Reifinger Jr. set out to determine whether the use of solfège syllables or the use of a neutral syllable (loo) were better for sight singing instruction. Reifinger Jr. (2012) cites that, performing this study. He goes onto state that reading ability is an explicitly stated national goal that music education programs are music education, music teachers must teach students how to read music in their classrooms. In addition to determining whether or not the use of solfège syllables or neutral syllables are better for sight singing instruction , he wanted to see if relating patterns to familiar s ongs versus unfamiliar patterns would be better for sight sin ging instruction. Familiar patterns would be taken from songs the students had previously learned in their music classroom. solfège are assumed to be effective in improving sight singing performance, few research studies have investigated the nature of this study in 2009, o nce again, Reifinger Jr. perfo rmed his research in second grade classrooms with


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 36 1 93 second grade students. solfège and related songs Students were split by class. Classes learned sight singing in multi ple ways; some classes used solfège and patterns that were already familiar to the students; some classes used solfège and patterns that were unfamiliar to the students; some classes used neutral syllables and patterns that were familiar to the students an d some classes used neutral syllables and patterns that were unfamiliar to the students. The students in each class took 16 sessions of sight singing instruction that last 25 minutes each. During the time, the students would practice a new pattern each c lass and review old patterns previously learned. In addition, a new song was taught each week by rote. Two of the groups sang a song relating to the patterns and two of the groups sang a song that was unrelated to the patterns. The students who learned a song that was related to their patterns were guided into discovering that the patterns were embedded within the song. Reifinger Jr. (2009) administered sight singing tests to the students. During the test, the student sat across from the researcher in a quiet room. Bells, representing do, mi, and sol were echoed just bell. The bells were used, instead of matching a vocal model, in order to remain consistent for all children. The students were then allowed to sing three practice patt erns. These patterns were similar to those used on the test. They were shown a flash card, then listened to a recorded model of the flash card, and then they echoed the recording. During the practice patterns, the researcher would point to each note as it was being sung. No feedback for accuracy was given


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 37 during the practice patterns. For the students using solfège , the recorded model utilized solfège . For the students using a neutral syllable, loo, the recorded model utilized a neutral syllable, loo as well. The starting pitch was played for the student. The tests were then recorded for later scoring by an experienced elementary music teacher. The teacher listened to the recorded tests in random order and listened for accuracy of pitch without regar d to the solfège syllable that was 33). A second teacher was c alled in to listen to 50% of the tests in order to check for accuracy. Reifinger Jr. (2009) all four groups. He also determined that there was significant improvement from pretest to postt est and that the posttest to retention test scores were not significant, indicating skill retention. He also found that sight singing skills did transfer to unfamiliar songs. In addition, he discovered that the group taught using solfège and familiar pat terns and the group taught using neutral syllable loo and unfamiliar patterns had greater contour accuracy. He concluded that relating patterns to songs had no significant effect on sight singing achievement. Harvey, Garwood, and Palencia (1987) attempted to discover the transfer effects and learning effects of vocal pitch matching of intervals. The subjects in the ir experiment heard an interval played and then had to accurately sing it back. They questioned whether subjects who received trainin g on only the interval they were tasked to sing back would be more successful than those who received training on various intervals before the test. Harvey, Garwood, and Palencia (1987) proposed that the Kodály method would be the best method to use in t his experiment because it is widely known and practiced. In addition, the


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 38 Kodály method requires students to become proficient at singing one interval before adding another to their repertoire. ning by (p. 90) and that after that another interval is then added until it is also mastered before adding yet another interval. Students learn small range s ongs (those with few notes and intervals) until they have mastered those intervals. This experiment was to test to see if that aspect of the Kodály method was correct. In addition, the authors stated that two other assumptions underlying the Kodály method are 1) that the development of singing skill is helped by listening as well as singing experience and 2) that the development of singing skill does not require knowledge of results (KR). The study found that all three assumptions underlying the Kodály m ethod received so me support in the experiment. Harvey, Garwood, and Palencia (1987) stated that singing a new interval was better after consistent practice rather than variable practice, that this observation was evident with both listening and singing ex perience, and that the learning occurred without KR. r p. 6). He documents a re search experiment in which he sought to determine whether or not the us e of shape notes as opposed to regular notes would help students learn to sight sing. The researcher hypothesized that students who learn to sight sing using shape notes would be significantly superior sight singers to those who learned to sight sing by using regular notes. The experiment was conducted from October 1968 to April 1969 at the Campus Elementary School in Monmouth, Oregon where the researcher taught. He limited the study to intermediate level students in the school. He limited the sight si nging to melody oriented sight


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 39 singing since shape notes were used. He used two groups: an experimental group that learned by using shape notes and a control group that learned by using regular notes. he method w hich subsequently w as developed was based on tonality , beginning with patterns, as identified by sol fa syllables , in the key of C, and general music class sight reading drills. Students used this method to learn new songs in the classroom. One group used round notes while the other group used seven different shapes. Both singing criterion, and overall intelligence measured fill out in order to determine any environmental factors. After students su ccessfully completed sight singing training, they once again took the tests as a post test. singing test of the experimental group and the control group. He found there was no significant difference in th e scores between the two groups. The researcher also compared the scores of students who had private music lessons in both groups. He found that in the experimental group, students who had private lessons made significant gains over students in the exper imental group who were not receiving private lessons. However, this was not the case in the control group. He discovered that students in the control group who were taking private lessons did not show better improvement than those in the control group wh o were not taking private lessons. He did not that, despite not showing any difference between the groups, both groups did make gains in sight singing ability from pre test to post test.


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 40 Roberts (1997) noted there were many publications today regarding the instruction of sight singing. However, none of them were sequenced logically. a perusal of current manuals available for sight singing discloses, for the most part, an arbitrary and inconsistent approach Roberts saw tw o approaches to sight singing: pentatonic, generally geared towards younger sight singers; and diatonic, generally geared towards older singers. She felt that there was a need to create a sight singing curriculum that incorporated both diatonic and pentat onic sight singing and to sequence it logically from simple tunes to harder, diatonic tunes. She collected a series of folk songs, took out the words, and sequenced them logically. d that there are too many approaches to teaching sight singing. She also notes an absence of appropriate sight singing materials for younger children. She also found it easy to collect folk songs and arrange them in a logical diatonic sequence with the appropri ate pentatonic songs beforehand. Minor Key Larson (1993) sta solfège for college conducted a study to determine whether do based minor or la based minor was the better choice to use when sight singing in a minor key. He states that some people argue for la based minor because there are less syllables to use. However, Larson (1993) goes through the three minor tonalities: natural, melodic, and that one system is better than the other and that specific students, objectives, and repert oires call for specific systems. However, he goes on to state that just because specific students and


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 41 several problems with using la based minor and that h e would chose do based minor instead. What A ge is best to introduce sight singing ? Feirabend, Saunders, Holahan, and Getnick (1998) conducted an experiment to determine whether or not listening to a piece of music for an extended period of time would lea d to better integration of text and tune by preschool aged students (ages 3 5). Feirabend, Saunders, t he c omprehension of both words and music is achieved through the establishment of a long term memory trace after repe ated listening trials The researchers believe that repetition is the key to strengthening the ear for listening and the ability to sing. They inquired; do listeners pay more attention to the words or the instruments; the rhythm or the melody? The researchers found previous research that argued in favor of using both words and music to help memorize songs. The previous research found that, when words were changed, adults had less accuracy when identifying previously learned music. However, mo re often, preschool students were able to identify two songs as being the same even when words were changed. Participants in this study numbered seventy five, ages 3 to 5. 34 of the students were male and 41 were female. In addition, the students were Caucasian students from middle and upper income level families. 60 of the students were enrolled in daily preschool programs while 15 were drawn from a once a week preschool program. Parents volunteered to let their students be participants in this stud y. Children were randomly divided into three treatment groups. The children and their parents would listen to recordings of 8 unfamiliar songs. In Group A, the eight songs were sung twice in immediate repetition (first song was played twice in a row, second song was play twice


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 42 in a row, etc). All the songs for Group A were performed with the texts of the songs. Group B, also played the eight songs in immediate repetition, however, the first time had words and the second time was sung on a neutral sy llable. For Group C, the songs were performed in immediate repetition; however, both times the songs were performed using a neutral syllable. The eight songs used in this study were composed specifically for this study so none of the students had any fam iliarity with the pieces prior to the experiment. Each child received a picture book the contained visuals that corresponded with the text of the song. The parents were told to have their child listen to the eight songs while viewing the pictures that wen t with each piece. The parents were instructed to do this 15 times. Afterwards, the students were individually tested to determine if they could identify the songs performed on a pre recorded audiotape by using picture labels. Each child sat on the floo r and listened to the eight songs on the tape. All the performances during the test were sung using a neutral syllable. The student would picture the picture that corresponded with the song. Feirabend, Saunders, Holahan, and Getnick (1998) discovered t hat when a preschool student heard a song without text, they were more likely to recognize it if they had heard it before with text. Songs that had a distinct melody were more recognizable than those who had melodies similar to other songs. This research is important because it shows that preschool students can begin to recognize sounds, words, and patterns. While the researchers did not introduce sight singing to the preschool students, this is an important step to take before students learn the skills o f sight singing. Students first need to be able to listen to pieces of music and recognize familiar patterns in order to identify them. Pattern recognition is a huge part of sight singing.


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 43 ad music at sight is as methods of teaching sight singing to fourth grade children. She states that there are many methods in place to teach this skill such as shape notes, fixed do, and moveable do. She reflects successful when pupils lacked the musical background necessary to comprehend the significance of the variou She urges that the students must have some background in the understanding of music theory. This will provide a framework for the ability to sight sing successfully. She chose to conduct her study in fourth grade. This indicates that younger students are still learning the basics to build a framework for understanding music that will lead to successful sight singing. Similarly, Reifinger Jr used second grade students in his studies conduc ted in 2009 and 2012. Again, this indicates that Reifinger Jr. feels that any younger than second grade may be too soon. Kindergarten students and first graders may not have the proper framework built in order to fully understanding the concept of sight singing. Relationship between sight reading and other factors Mishra (2013) conducted a meta analysis in order to determine any trends in the relationship between sight reading and previously tested variables. Mishra (2013) states, usicians differ in th eir ability to sight read, and hundreds of researchers have explored reasons why this might be the case, some ascribing the ability to innate talent, others i nvestigating sight reading as a skill to be trained ither investigate how sight reading ability can be improved or previous studies investigate what outside factors are read. Many of the previously studied factors that have been


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 44 studied in relation to sight reading ar academic ability, personality, and music aptitude 453) which suggests that many believe that sight reading is a trait that is unaffected by training. However, Mishra claims that the variables studied in the past were chosen for convenience and no t because of hypothesis which has led to myriad conclusions. As a result of the varied number of variables tested, it is difficult to note any trends. It is difficult to compare the findings of the previous studies. Even when a variables was tested in m ultiple studies, the measurement used to compute the results of the studies are different and yield different results. In her meta analysis , Mishra utilized ninety two studies that were published between 1925 and 2010. She notes that the majority of the s tudies she used were unpublished dissertations and thesis papers. Mishra excluded variables from the studies that were note specific to an individual such as the ethnic make up of the school in the study. She took into account the experience level of sig ht readers in the study (elementary, secondary, collegiate non musician, and collegiate musician) as well as what the sight reading mode the sight readers used (instrumental and singing). In addition, she sought to determine what constructs had a variable effect with sight reading and what constructs had a stable correlation. She determined that constructs that can be improved with practice (improvisation, ear training, technical ability, and musical knowledge) correlated strongly with sight reading ability. However, stable characteristics such as musical aptitude, IQ, and personality did not correlate strongly with sight reading ability. Mishra suggests additional testing be done on the theory that sight singing is a teachable activity and not a st able characteristic. She also suggests that sight reading improves when the musicality of the performer improves. m of music, where the accomplished sight -


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 45 reader is able to perform at first sight what may take an accomplished music reader a second or sight read was an impor tant skill, many high school musicians were poor sight readers. He claims that there is not one single problem attributed to this dilemma. In addition, he claims that because sight reading skills are so poor in many places, which is because there is a la ck of understanding about sight reading in general. Elliott (1982) states that the reason he conducted this study was to investigate several questions regarding instrumental sight reading ability, the nature of the sight reading process in general, the rel ationship between instrumental sight reading and performance skills, the relationship between instrumental sight reading and sight singing, and other nonmusical variables. inst rumental sight study built around the ability to sight read on an instrument, not sight sing, it is interesting to note any similarities and differences between the two abilities . The variables used in the study were technical proficiency on the instrument, sight singing ability, rhythm reading ability, overall grade point average of the musician, grade point average in music theory, performance jury grade point average, and thei r major instrument grade point average. Elliott randomly selected 32 wind instrument players from the undergraduate music theory classes at the University of South Carolina. However, two of the selected subjects failed to complete the study leaving only 3 0 wind instrument players from with the data was gathered. The subjects took the Watkins Farnum Performance Scale test which graded 14 sight reading exercises performed by the students. Students were given the tempo via metronome prior to


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 46 sight reading e ach passage. In addition, each student took a Technical Proficiency Evaluation which asked students to perform one octave major scales, two octave arpeggios, and one octave patterns of both ascending and descending thirds. Each of these were performed bo th slurred and tongued by the students. The students were given a notated version of each exercise in the key of C Major b ut were required to then repeat each pattern in the other 11 major keys. Students also took the Criterion Sightsinging Test. This test has three section pitch, rhythm, and melodic. The pitch section contained 30 questions about either a single interval or a four note pattern. There were no bars, measures, or rhythms in this section. The rhythm section contained 24 questions of t wo measure rhythm phrases with no reference to pitch. Each question included meter signatures and tempo markings. The melodic section consisted of 24 questions as well. Each question contained three to nine pitches that were also set to a rhythm pattern . Meter and tempo were also indicated for these questions. Students were asked to sing using neutral pitch. In addition, students took a Rhythm Reading test that was developed by Boyle in 1986. There were 14 passages that increased in difficulty as the students performed each one. All the tests taken by the students were administered tape recorded in the same room. They were administered by a music educati on graduate student who had no investment in the study. Elliott (1982) exceptions ar e 1) the relationship between the theory grade point average and the sight reading scores was positive and moderately strong and 2) the relationship between the theory grade point averages and the overall grade point averages were also positive and moderat ely strong.


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 47 Elliott (1982) also discovered that the relationship between general sight reading ability and rhythm sight reading ability was positive. In addition, he determined that rhythm sight reading ability was the best predictor of the sight reading scores. Elliott also discovered that rhythm sight reading ability and performance jury scores can be combined in order to predict overall sight reading performance scores. Elliott does urge caution in generalizing from these results. Despite the fact tha t he compared sight reading ability with the ability to sight correlation between the two. Other studies have postulated whether or not training on an instrument may improve sight singing scores. Elliott urges caution when generalizing from these results, however, he study does not support a correlation between instrumental skills and the ability to sight sing. Discussion There have been many studies conducted in regards to sight singing methodologies and approaches. However, many of the studies that have been conducted addressed various and different aspects of the topic. Not all studies asked the same research questions thereby making it difficult to note trends. While Harvey, Garwood, and Palencia (198 7) studied the use of pitch intervals in the Kodály m ethod, McClung (2008) researched whether or not the Curwen Hand S igns in addition to the Kodály m ethod would help to improve sight singing success in the classroom. Harvey, Garwood, and Palencia (1987) expressed that sight singin g a new interval was better after consistent practice. However, in McClung (2008) study, McClung found that the use of the Curwen Hand Signs did not help students in regards to sight sing ing. Reifinger (2009) found


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 48 success of sight singing patterns was not affected by whether or not a pattern was more melodic which goes against wh at is taught by in the Kodály m ethod. The Dalcroze a pproach emphasizes the use of movement along with music , called eurhythmics. While the Dalcroze a pproac h is different from the Kodály m ethod in that it utilizes eurhythmics, it also stresses the im portance of interval training. The interval training used in Dalcroze style classrooms is more harmonic which ba sed on chords rather than melodic which is based on the melody line. In addi tion to his find on the Kodály m ethod, Reifinger (2009) found that the success of sight singing patterns was also not affected by whether or not a pattern was more harmonic which goes against the Dal croze a pproach. The Orff a pproach is, at first, based upon the pentatonic scale. The studen ts learned songs that use only sol and m i when they are young and then graduall y add in other pitches such as la, re, and d o until they get th e pentatonic scale. After students have mastered the pentatonic scale, they move onto the Major Scale. According to Holme s (2009), even though the Orff a pproach is generally not associated with solfège training, many Orff certified teachers see the value in using solfège to help teach what Orff emphasizes: song based on sol and m i, gradually leading up to pentatonic songs, and then to Major songs. As a result, even though solfège is some thing emphasized in the Kodály m etho d , teachers also utilize solfège in the music classr oom while using the Orff a pproach. Some music educators believe that the use of normal notation may be too complicated for young students. As a result, other methods were developed in order to simplify sight singing. One of the method s that was born from this belief is the use of shape notes rather than normal singing test scores. However, he found no significant difference in the scores of stu dents who


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 49 used shape notes and students who used normal notation. This study shows that students can sight sing using normal notation and that it is not too complicated for them. Similarly, Horton (1974) hypothesized that the use of alternate sight singin g methods such as songflute, shape note s , and syllables would help to improve scores. However, he found that there was no difference in sight singing scores between the three methods. He concluded th at, if used correctly, all systems were effective. S ome music educators believe that the success of sight singing lies with factors that are not musical. For example, Killian and Henry (2005) studied whether or not a 30 second practice time before actually performing a sight singing passage would improve a success in sight singing. The found that students, indeed, had better success after having a 30 second practice time before they were asked to sight sing a passage. They also found that students received better scores when they tonicized the k ey before practicing, used Curwen hand signs, sang out loud in their practice session, physically kept the beat while they practiced, and finished the entire piece in the practice session. The students in the study mostly used moveable do, fixed do, or num bers when sight singing. However, they discovered that the system used by the student did not make a difference in their performance. Durocher (2006) hypothesized that there may not be a most effective sight singing method, instead, it may be more importa nt for how well the instructor teachers sight singing. used a fixed do or a moveable d o system. However, she also found that if a student was trained in one system but was asked to use the other, it would be detrimental. While Killian and Henry (2005) did not specifically study whether the use of Curwen Hand Signs would improve scores, th ey made note that the students who used the hand signs


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 50 received better scores than those who did not. This goes against the findings of McClung (2008) who found that the use of Curwen Hand Signs did not make a difference in the sight singing scores of the students tested. Due to the conflicting reports from these research papers, f urther research will need to be conducted to determine whether the use of Curwen Hand Signs is beneficial for students while sight singing. Killian and Henry (2005) also sought to determine whether or not a 30 second practice time before sight singing would help to improve sight singing scores. After conducting their research, they discovered that students were, indeed, better sight singers when they had a short practice session before they were asked to sight sing. Further research should be done to confirm this finding. Elliott (1982) studied whether or not sight reading ability was dependent on outside variables such as overall grade point average, music grade point average, and the ability to read rhythms. He found that with the exception of two, the grade point averages had nothing to do with sight reading ability. The only grade point average that showed any correlation to sight reading ability was theory grade point ave rage which linked positively to overall sight reading scores and it also linked positively to overall grade point average. Overall, he found that rhythmic sight reading scores were the best indicator of overall sight reading scores. Similarly, Mishra (201 3) determined that outside variables that can be improved with practice such as improvisation, ear training, technical ability, and musical knowledge correlated strongly with sight reading ability. However, characteristics such as musical aptitude, IQ, an d personality did not correlate strongly with sight reading ability . Implications for teaching


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 51 History has shown an emphasis on sight singing and an emphasis on rote reading. Both of these systems have merit and both have been proven to work. Perhaps it would be beneficial for teachers to use a combination of both techniques when teaching children how to be successful singers. Using both systems in moderation could really help to improve the ability to hear pitches, match pitch, and read music. All of the articles used in this project point to the same thing: there is not one best method to use in the classroom when teaching sight singing. Instead, teachers should focus on the method they are most familiar with, master that method, and confidently use that method in their classroom. If teachers are not comfortable with a method, they will only confuse their students. It does not matter if teachers use moveable do, fixed do, numbers, letter names, or intervals. It does not matter if teachers utilize th e Gordon method, the Orff approach, the Kodály method, and the Dalcroze approach. All of these methods, approaches, and systems each has value in their own way. The teacher simply needs only to master one of these systems and present it in a clear and con cise manner. This will provide students with the materials and knowledge they need to become successful sight singers. This goes from elementary to secondary schools and beyond. Teachers should focus on their method of sight singing rather than go back and forth between several methods. However, they must communicate with other schools in the area. An elementary school that focuses on solfège might feed into a middle school program that uses inflected letter names. This can cause great confusion for t he students as well as twice the amount of work for the middle school teacher. The middle school teacher has to fight the students who already know solfège and reteach them their method.


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 52 Teachers should use the method they are comfortable with. H owever , they need to build a solid program from primary through secondary. Additional confusion may occur with students who go into music in college. Teachers in undergraduate programs who instruct aural skills set the system or method use in the aural trainin g classes. If a student has learned to sight sing using numbers from elementary through high school and ends up in a program that uses solfège , it can cause even greater confusion. Students may have already become confident in the number system and havin g to relearn a system is harder than learning one to begin with. If student goes into music or music education when they become undergraduates in college, they should look at the aural training classes to see if the sight singing method aligns with what th ey have already learned in their primary and secondary education. Students should make sure to inquire about the method used when auditioning and applying for programs. Teachers need to focus on one method to lessen the confusion that students may have when using more than one method. A student who is asked to use the Curwen hand signs, the Kodály solfège system, audiation from the Gordon method, and eurhythmics from the Dalcroze approach may have a hard time putting all the pieces together. Instead, focusing on one method and one area may allow students to have a greater chance of succeeding as young sight singers. Sight singing should be taught in the primary schools. Teachers only need to take 5 minutes at the beginning or end of every class to review previously learned material regarding sight singing practice. If students begin to learn the methods to sight sing when they are young, they can carry this knowledge to middle school, high school, and beyond in order to help them in their music classes. In addition, students who learn how to read music in elementary school may not want to join an orchestra in middle school or a marching band in high school. However, th ey may wish to learn to play the guitar or the piano. Having the skills to sing, read, and write music


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 53 will allow them to carry on independently as music makers. By the time students are in the 12 th grade, if they have had sight singing practice from kin dergarten on, they will be strong sight singers. This may encourage students to continue in music after they graduate. However, caution should be used when students go from elementary school to middle school or from high school to college. Many teachers use different methods because it is what they are comfortable with. Unfortunately that means a student might use numbers from elementary through high school but then enter a college program that uses letter names instead. Instead of discouraging student s from using their old method altogether, teachers should embrace the methods the students are comfortable with. So caution needs to be used when deciding which method to utilize in college programs. Do college professors stick to the method they are mos t comfortable with or should they embrace the methods that their students are most familiar with? Or do they let all students use their own system? This is something that needs to be examined in further research. Conclusion Jones (1960) stated: teacher can best lead the children to conscious awareness of the symbols of music notation, and by which he can eventually unite eye, ear, and mind in comprehending and executing tonal and rhythmic groups. Methods do not make teachers; good teachers make methods. ( p. 46 ) Despite the fact that children will not have the same level of music aptitude, it is the job of the teacher to make sure that no child becomes frustrated with learning mu sic in order to give each student the best chance of success.


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 54 (Gordon p. 45). The studies examined in th is paper did not yield any trends regarding which method is the best method to use when teaching sight singing to elementary aged students. However, many of the studies narrowed in on some of the most widely used strategies including 1) moveable do (do fo r both major and minor); 2) moveable do (do for major, la for minor); 3) fixed do (do for both major and minor); 4) fixed do (do for major, la for minor); 5) intervals; 6) letter names; 7) scale degree numbers; and 8) neutral syllables. In addition, the r esearchers identified the four most common methodologies used when teachin g sight singing: 1) the Gordon m ethod, 2) the Orff a pproach, 3) the Kodály m ethod, and 4) the Dalcroze a pproach . While the researchers could not come to a conclusion on which one of these methods or strategies was the best, many came to the conclusion that there is not one best method. Music educators should take a look at the method or strategy with which they are familiar, the students they are teaching, and the area in which they teach when determining which method to use. There may not be one best method to use for everyone; rather there is the best method to use for that teacher and their students. Music educators all learned to sight sing using a certain strategy and method. If an educator is familiar and proficient in one method or strategy, it may be detrimental to ask that educator to switch later in life when teaching students to sight sing. Not only will it confuse the learn in a proficient way. Music educators should, instead, step up to become proficient in their method of sight singing. This will allow them to confidently deliver instruction to music students. Educators


SIGHT SINGING IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC 55 who are confident in their skills will inst ruct their students confidently. Students will come away with a confident approach to sight singing.


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