The University of St. Thomas


Moore, Sally

Moore, Sally

The Nature of Fluency in and Between Speech and Music
Sally Kim Moore

The problem of this thesis was to determine the nature and similarities of fluency in and between speech and music, and to identify the extent to which those similarities, if any, were manifested in the textbook Making Music.  The theoretical questions for this thesis include: (1) What are the principles of fluency in speech? (2) What are the principles of fluency in music? (3) To what extent, if any, are the principles of fluency in music and speech similar or different? and (4) To what extent are the principles of fluency in speech and music implicit in Making Music’s lesson plans and teaching instructions?

Fluency in speech includes three main areas: accuracy, prosody, and rate.  Accuracy is the use of correct pronunciation of speech, while prosody is the expressive nature of speech.  Rate, on the other hand, is the speed of one’s speech patterns.  Students who have difficulty with one or more of the fluency characteristics of speech may, according to the research, encounter problems with subject communication comprehension.

Fluency in music incorporates fluency characteristics similar to those found in speech, even though the terminology is different.  Accuracy in music is the performance of a piece—according to the musical instructions in the score—using correct phrasing, dynamics, pitches, rhythm, etc.  Prosody in music demands rhythm, expression, and the rhythmical melodic patterns necessary to express the aesthetic nature of music.  The tempo of songs or musical compositions refers to the rate of movement of the music through time. 

The characteristics of fluency in speech and music are similar.  Not only do they share common traits: accuracy, prosody (expression), and rate, but also they require students to practice and manipulate the information, if they expect to become musically successful and, by extension, musically fluent.

After analyzing the lessons in Making Music, it was determined that the lessons contained fluency characteristics common to speech and music.  They incorporated practice, modeling, manipulation, and critique all of which are behaviors identified in the research that have been shown to improve the speech fluency of students.

Although teaching music for music’s sake is the primary philosophical and pedagogical goal, this research found that inherent in the selected lessons and musical instruction are fluency characteristics that mirror those in the instruction of speech, which, by logical deduction, encourages and reinforces the teaching and development of fluency in the broadest sense in both disciplines.

Thesis Supervisor
Dr. Carroll Gonzo