Elements of Comprehensive Musicianship: A Survey Addressing the Attitudes and Approaches of Middle School and High School Choral Directors
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
Curriculum and Teaching
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This study included an anonymous online questionnaire and investigated the attitudes and opinions of middle school and high school choral directors regarding the use of comprehensive musicianship components in their classrooms. Participants were NAfME members in the United States. The research questions that guided this study were (a) What are choral directors’ attitudes and opinions toward using a comprehensive musicianship approach during repertoire selection and preparation (including repertoire analysis and lesson planning), classroom teaching and strategies, and class assessments?, (b) How important do choral directors feel specific comprehensive musicianship elements are to their students’ education?, (c) What training, if any, have choral directors received?, Do they feel they have enough knowledge to implement a comprehensive musicianship approach into teaching their ensembles?, (d) What significant differences exist among participants’ responses when grouped by participant demographics such as location (NAfME region), highest degree earned, and number of years of teaching experience overall?, (e) What significant differences exist among participants’ responses when they are grouped by school demographics such as school type, school economic status, and length of class periods? NAfME’s Research Assistance Program randomly sampled middle school and high school choral directors across the United States, which resulted in 10,224 potential participants. According to Rea and Parker (2005), a total of 370 participants is the minimum sample size needed for this study. A total of 394 participants completed the questionnaire with a response rate of 3.9%. Analysis included frequencies and descriptive statistics, one-way ANOVA, and Bonferroni as a post-hoc test. Results indicated many directors were not familiar with CMP but felt that students being part of a community and becoming well-rounded musicians were of high importance. In addition, historical and composer background were two elements that were taught and assessed least while singing correct pitches and rhythms, musical elements, sight-reading, and interpretive elements were most taught and assessed. Participants’ beliefs about CMP implementation were measured by their level of agreement with several statements using Likert-type scales. Significant differences existed when these statements were compared based on participants’ and school demographics. Specifically, differences were between participants’ (a) highest degree and the statements “CM contributes to the development of well-rounded student musicians” and “implementing CM concepts needs more preparation time than is practical for the choir director,” (b) number of years teaching and the statements “it can be done without sacrificing performance skills” and “I would support implementing a comprehensive musicianship approach in my choral ensemble if I had support and resources available,” (c) type of school and the statements “it is a worthy goal for middle school choral directors” and “it can be done without sacrificing performance skills,” (d) school socioeconomic status, the statements “develop a lifelong involvement in music” and “achieve overall well-rounded musicianship” and lastly, (e) length of classes and the statements “learn proper performance technique and vocal skills,” “are prepared for collegiate music study/participation,” and “implementing CM concepts is possible in high school choral programs.” Overall this study yielded three key findings: (a) most choral directors were not familiar with CMP; (b) the length of the class has an impact on how often directors assess several key elements of comprehensive musicianship; and (c) CMP contributes to a well-rounded musician and that CMP is a possible and worthy goal for high school choral programs.