The purpose of this study was to determine if daily sight singing exercises were effective in increasing the sight singing ability of sixth- and seventh-grade choir students. This study also investigated what, if any, relationship existed between sight singing ability and the following: gender, band experience or training on the piano.
One hundred and twenty-one sixth- and seventh-grade choir members from Maplewood Middle School participated in this study. Students were divided into either the experimental group (those students who received training with daily sight singing exercises) and the control group (those students who did not receive training with daily sight singing exercises).
Approximately 3 minutes of each choir rehearsal was spent working with the sight singing exercise. The exercise was written on the board for all students to see. Students were given the starting pitch of the exercise and 15 seconds to silently study the exercise before the choir sang. Students sang through the exercise at least twice with the director giving support only to insure success for the choir.
All students participated in a pretest and a posttest which consisted of the student sight singing exercise #243 from Kodály’s 333 Elementary Exercises. These tests were tape-recorded and later scored by two judges. One point was given for each correct interval.
The analysis was completed using an analysis of variance test, with the following results:
1. In the overall analysis of the experimental and control groups, daily sight singing exercises were not shown to have a significant effect on the sight singing ability of students. However, when looking closely at the data, it was found that at the sixth grade level only, the use of exercises improved the student’s sight singing ability. As well, a comparison of pretest and posttest scores revealed significant improvement in the seventh grade experimental group.
The remaining hypotheses were tested in the experimental group only.
2. There were no significant differences in the sight singing ability of girls and boys when looking at the entire experimental group and when looking at each grade level alone.
3. Band experience did not significantly effect students’ sight singing ability. However, the students’ sight singing scores improved with 2 or more years of band experience.
4. Piano experience had a significant effect on the students’ ability to sight sing. This impact appeared to increase with the number of years of piano study.
The results of this study encourage me to continue the teaching of sight singing skills in my choir. When students can read music they become independent musicians. I hope that the skills learned during their middle school years will allow them to pursue vocal music at whatever level they choose, whether it is church choir, community chorus, or as professionals.