The University of St. Thomas


Aune, Julie

Aune, Julie

An Exploration of How Children Find Meaning in Poetry Through The Vehicle of Music
Julie A. Aune

The purpose of this study was to discover how the singing of music in a choral setting, through rehearsal and performance of a choral piece, provides a vehicle that helps children in their interpretation of the text. This study provided support and validation for educators and choral directors to provide intentional integrative encounters with the two communication systems of poetry and song.

Children involved in this study were members of the Concert Choir of the Mankato Children's Chorus, a non-auditioned community choir of fifty children in grades six through eight. Choir members learned a choral piece that used poetry as the text during regular weekly choral rehearsals over a period of eight weeks. The method of teaching the piece was similar to the teaching of typical choral repertoire, with the exception that there was no discussion of the text.

After the students had learned the piece and performed it in a concert setting, eighteen chorus members completed a questionnaire about the poem's meaning. Six students, two each, from grades six, seven, and eight, were interviewed with more in-depth questions about the poem's meaning.
The interviews were recorded on audiotape and were transcribed to the computer. Responses to the questionnaire and taped interviews were evaluated to assess the influence of learning and performing of the choral piece on the level of student understanding of the poetry and to discover how the music is helpful in the interpretation process.

An open coding technique was used to look for emergent patterns in the data. The following categories and sub-categories were revealed: A. How do music and poetry connect and influence each other in the choral process? 1. Singers connect music and poetry in the choral process or setting. 2. Music becomes internalized in the choral process. 3. Singers notice the effect of memory in the choral process. 4. Most singers socially safe learning environment.

The common principles in the balanced literacy approach and the Kodály method were striking in their similarities. The absence of controversy between the methods suggest, that when literacy is the goal of education, commonalities in instruction occur across the disciplines of music and reading. Five implications for educators were recommended. The first implication states that music education is an academic core subject when taught using the Kodály inspired method. Second, music teachers should be educated in Kodály methodology and balanced literacy educators should be educated in the balanced literacy approach. Contrived music and books should be eliminated from elementary music and reading classrooms. Early education programs should be funded, and staffed by Kodály educated teachers and balanced literacy educators. Finally, the Kodály methodology and the balanced literacy approach can be naturally integrated because of their mutual pedagogical practice.

Thesis Supervisor
Dr. Bruce P. Gleason