The University of St. Thomas


Huenink, Janet

Huenink, Janet

Strategies Used by Third Grade Students in Reading 'Mi' 'Re' and 'Do' When These Concepts are Taught Using Conversational Solfege
Janet S. Huenink

The purpose of this study was to examine the strategies used by third grade students in reading music. This study examined two subproblems:

  1. What types of performance tasks would form a suitable assessment tool by which children can demonstrate melodic understanding in terms of Conversational Solfege? and;
  2. What strategies did students use while responding to tasks developed in this study, thereby demonstrating melodic understanding?

The ability to read music, and, more specifically, the ability to sing notation, involves many skills. A review of literature included readiness skill acquisition, subdivided into vocal skills and aural skills, and music reading skills. A comparison of Conversational Solfege and Gordon's Skill Learning Theory was followed by a description of Conversational Solfege methodology.

Because no standardized instrument was available to provide valid and reliable results, protocol analysis was used to examine students' understanding of melody and music reading. In order to do this, tasks needed to be developed to provide a focus for the students. Seven tasks were used, either from John Feierabend's Conversational Solfege or based on folk song literature and developed by the researcher for use in this study.

Ten students met with the researcher in individual interviews. While the students were solving each music reading task they were asked to "think aloud." Through this process, called protocol analysis, the researcher gained information about the strategies used by the students to solve music reading tasks.

Protocol data were analyzed looking for strategies used by students while they solved the tasks developed for use in this study. Strategies used by these students were divided into six categories:

  1. general knowledge,
  2. visual explanation,
  3. reference to singing performance,
  4. reference to rhythm performance,
  5. performance, and
  6. text explanation.

The responses of these students showed that melodic understanding and music reading were demonstrated. In addition, the focus on certain strategies provided me, as a teacher, areas of instruction needing improvement.

Thesis Advisor
Sheila J. Scott