The intent of this thesis was to determine what pedagogical techniques middle school directors could use to develop musical literacy and artistic independence in middle school singers. The research addressed questions relating to (1) the nature of musical literacy, (2) the nature of artistic independence, and (3) pedagogical techniques for teaching musical literacy and artistic independence. This research was approached from the perspective of the middle school vocal music classroom, which included the analysis of teacher instruction.
Choral directors at the middle level typically teach students how to perform the notes and rhythms of choral music, but usually take on the role of primary decision maker. Music is often taught by rote, and students are not involved in the entire musical performance process. When directors neglect their responsibility to include students in the process of music selection, analysis, performance, and evaluation, they leave any development of independent musicianship to chance.
The ultimate goal of this thesis was to determine how choral conductors could develop independent students who are capable of making intelligent musical decisions and reflecting on its quality and effectiveness. From the theoretical analysis that was conducted in this thesis, it was concluded that musically literate students are able to read and write music, perform with technical accuracy, and hear music from many different perspectives. As students develop their musical literacy, they should be given chances to find and solve musical problems—this problem-solving mindset allows students to develop artistic independence. There are many different techniques for developing this independence in students, and these techniques are analyzed from the perspective of constructivist learning theory.