The purpose of this study was to examine whether the use of movement as a choral technique is a significant factor in improving choral performance. Students in seventh grade general music classes from the same school were tested using an experimental control group design. Each class rehearsed the same compositions under different conditions: Rehearsal for the experimental group included movement, while the rehearsal for the control group did not. The dependent variable, choral performance, was measured using the Choral Performance Rating Scale, developed by John Cooksey (1977).
In this study, each of thirty-two raters was given a packet of forms to complete while listening to taped performances of the songs. In the Choral Performance Rating Scale (CPRS), there were seven categories, or subscales given: diction, precision, dynamics, tone control, tempo, balance/blend, and interpretation. Each subscale had five and six statements and a Likert-type scale. By assigning a value to each statement, the average number for the subscale was calculated, as well as a composite number for the composition. The interjudge reliability for the composite scores was estimated as r = .78.
Although composite and subscale score improved in all areas from the pretest to the posttest in both the experimental and the control groups, the improvement in scores was not great enough to be significant. Probability for each exceeded .20, and the level of significance set for this study was p = .05.
The use of movement can be an effective pedagogical tool, as teachers and practitioners in the field have established with convincing qualitative evidence. However, the quantitative evidence in this study was inconclusive. There is no doubt in my mind that both groups learned how to sing better and that choral performance improved over the trimester. I perceived students to be actively engaged in learning and motivated to work harder because of the movement incorporated into instruction. I believe my lesson plans and objectives were clearer because the exercises focused on one aspect of singing at a time.
Future researchers might consider the following recommendations: use of the same pieces for the pretest and the posttest, as well as the use of established choral ensembles rather than general music classes. This would allow more time to refine use of movement in the rehearsal and allow students to explore movement as a problem-solving strategy.