The University of St. Thomas


Zurkan, Jeffrey

Zurkan, Jeffrey

Exploration or Expertise: The Role of General and Choral Music in the Middle School
Jeffrey Alan Zurkan

This thesis examines the purpose of vocal music courses in the middle school curriculum. The dichotomy of exploration vs. expertise is examined, and the proposal is made that in order to provide a successful musical experience for every child at the middle level, courses in both general music and choral music should be offered at each grade level. In this curriculum, the general music course would address the student’s need for exploration while the choral music course would meet the need to attain excellence.

Areas of study documented in this paper include a review of preadolescent developmental theory. Specifically, the areas of intellectual, physical, emotional/psychological and social development are reported. The developmental theories of Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson are examined in the intellectual and emotional/psychological development sections. In addition, documents which define modern middle school philosophy are outlined, along with a thorough examination of the scope, history, and function of the philosophy and pedagogic practices of Orff Schulwerk.

Using this research base and personal experience, specific activities are suggested to illustrate how a course in Orff Schulwerk-based general music aligns with middle school philosophy in the music curriculum. Other examples are provided to demonstrate how a course in choral music also aligns with middle school philosophy and fulfills the need for musical expertise in the middle level curriculum.

Capstone Supervisor
Mel Blohm