The Potential Utility Of The Use Of The Recorder To Improve Music Literacy Dissertation Example

Type of paper: Dissertation

Topic: Music, Education, Students, Study, School, Development, Literacy, Internet

Pages: 2

Words: 550

Published: 2020/11/08

BA, Interamerican University, 1999

Proposal Submitted in Partial Fulfillment
Chapter 1
Section 1: The Problem
The problem whose existence drives this project study is music illiteracy. While its opposite, music literacy, is of intrinsic value, music illiteracy does not exist alone. Rather, it is a part of a complex and interactive set of academic skills addressed by educational institutions. Music illiteracy, therefore, has implications, consequences, and variability not only within the music world, but across the academic enterprise. The problem to be discussed here, then, is not simply that of limitations with regard to music reading and performance ability. It is, instead, a problem that is related to other educational problems in ways that have yet to be discovered. Because music illiteracy appears to occur in concomitant association with other academic deficits it is conceived here as a particularity whose exploration and amelioration has benefits across the academic spectrum.
Elementary students in south San Antonio, Texas, are not performing music at a level of on grade level. Futher, they demonstrate minimal note-reading and musical symbol recognition skills. While “” quantitative data reflecting these realities is not available because these students do not receive a formal test, anecdotal evidence is plentiful among the music teachers of the district. Most teachers note that the children are not able to perform leveled band music that meets the years of training the students have.
Many factors may contribute to this problem, including insufficient teacher training, a general lack of musical equipment or guidance curriculum, and student absence and music class cancellations due to alterations in class schedules (Mikza & Gault, 2014). Funding considerations and a lack of emphasis on music education generally, and particularly in light of federal education standards under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), appear also to be factors that contribute to this problem.
It is my intention, by means of the proposed study, to discover some of the causes of music illiteracy and to determine the potential utility of the recorder as a musical instrument of choice in reducing music illiteracy. To provide and guide a discussion of musical illiteracy as a pedagogical problem; and I will explore use of the recorder as a tool to assist in note reading. The playing of this instrument will be the independent variable. The dependent is the level of music literacy, including note-reading ability and musical symbol recognition.
In the study I propose here such characteristics of the local context as student populations of predominantly low socioeconomic status (SES) and other objective descriptors will also be considered, explored, analyzed, and illuminated

The Rationale for Choosing this Problem

Because the NCLB reforms include no required testing requirements for music, the NCLB reforms are, themselves, problematic for music teachers (Beveridge, 2010). Though this act nominally emphasizes all subject areas, in practice, NCLB has forced schools across the U.S. to focus on core math and science subjects. As a result, music and similar programs have received less attention in the nation’s public schools. Hash (2010) suggests and reports findings that indicate that music education is associated with improved student achievement in other disciplines. NCLB has, according to West (2010), nonetheless, deflected attention from and had a negative effect on music programs, particularly in schools whose test scores have reflected unacceptable progress in this regard. Attention to the problem of music illiteracy is conceived here to be attention, in a general way, to a more general absence of academic achievement.
Schools whose students perform poorly on standardized examinations often cut or eliminate music programs in order to reallocate teaching and other resources to areas of greater importance in complying with NCLB standards (West, 2012). Given the suggested and reported criticality of music education and exposure to it on students’ general academic aptitude, particularly in visual arts, according to Filpovic and Grujik-Garic (2011), but also the reported relationships between music education and student aptitude in fields evaluated through the use of high-stakes testing, such reallocations may well be counterproductive (Branscome, 2012).

Funding and Other Factors Related to Music Illiteracy

Population density and socioeconomic status (SES). Funding of music education programs, relative to their availability and effectiveness, is a ubiquitous issue. The adequacy of funding is, of course, closely related to two other factors: (1) population density and (2) the socioeconomic status (SES) of the area or community under consideration. In Heinrich’s 2012 study, in which the researcher attempted to determine music program effectiveness, it was found that schools in rural areas (low population density) with lack of funding (a reflection of low SES) offered poor access to elementary music education when they were compared to urban schools with greater funding capacity. It was determined, further, that rural music educators frequently lack preservice education and training that is comparable to their urban, higher SES counterparts (Heinrich, 2012).
Mikza and Gault (2014) derived similar conclusions from their comprehensive music education study on the basis of which they reported that White, suburban students with higher SES received more comprehensive music education than did urban students of color and those whose SES was lower. Gottfried (2009) determined that high levels of unexcused absences were closely related to low SES and that students with many unexcused absences were at greater general academic risk. Gottfried (2009) found, too, that this higher risk applied to potential performance in math and science and both diminished aptitude and success in music literacy. These findings are germane to the present study as it is the author’s intention to explore SES- and funding-related variations that appear to be associated with differences in music instructional effectiveness and, consequently, to performance differences, i.e., to diminished music literacy.
In addition to music education resource limitations, including those related to population density and SES and the consequently limited access to music education that these limitations mean for students, music educators are challenged by other obstacles in the course of attempting to provide effective music education.
Other factors related to musical illiteracyBarton and Hartwig (2012) reported that the quality of teaching experienced by music teachers is enhanced by developing (or having developed) a personal philosophy of music education prior to entering the music teaching profession. Consistent, albeit somewhat indirectly, with the findings already discussed relative to funding and resources for music education, other factors most valued by music teachers prior to employment include support from school administration, support from parents and the community, and the sustainability of the music program (Robinson, 2012).
Other researchers, including Lien (2012), have sought to determine other sources of difficulty in teaching music, particularly music literacy. Lien (2012) found that music educators considered that among their greatest difficulties in teaching music were those related to pedagogy. In this regard, it was reported that such issues included what to teach and how music students were to be assessed with particular regard to “competency and qualifications.” A logistical problem in the form of difficulty in obtaining “performance venues” for their student musicians (p. 85) was also reported.
Darrow (2012) found that music teachers were often unprepared to teach students with learning or developmental disabilities, even though such students might well benefit from such instruction as much as their non-disabled counterparts. It has also been reported that while teachers may feel that effective music assessment is blocked by the lack of appropriate tools for assessment, strong assessment tools were found to exist in the form of comprehensive rubrics (Wesolowski, 2012). In another study it was found that, while beginning musical educators may be unprepared or improperly trained, strategies for professional development may be developed through open-ended interviews that are recorded and watched by future music teachers (Delaney, 2011).
Other music education issues have been reported in terms of deficiencies in teacher training and pedagogy as they are related to difficulties in maintaining student interest and enthusiasm for music education. One recommendation that has been made in this regard is that music education be decoupled from the “collegiate ensemble” model (Regelski, 2013, p. 17). The drill and memorization characterized by this system, though resulting in performances which reflect the look and discipline of collegiate ensembles, have not been shown to foster or maintain a student’s lasting interest in music. Student interest may be enhanced, however, through community involvement. As Leglar and Smith (2010) explained, community music-making is a strong, often-untapped resource in elementary music education, particularly because students may be motivated and empowered by musically inclined members of the community when such efforts are spearheaded by focused and enthusiastic educators. Such exposure allows students to understand music as being removed from the ensemble model and enhances enthusiasm for continued music practice and literacy even out of school.
Under current education standards, particularly NCLB, no requirements exist for student understanding of musical notation, even though musical literacy and literacy in musical notation have been found to be crucial to a comprehensive elementary education (Oare & Bernstorf, 2010). In addition to a lack of emphasis on practical music education, student appreciation and enthusiasm for musical education is often stymied by a lack of interest in playing the recorder (Reynolds & Gottschalk, 2009).


Constructivism: Individuals construct knowledge structures, through which they make sense of their environment. Learners absorb ideas that comply with their preconceptions or, in assimilation, alter their preconceptions to reach a new equilibrium. Any normative claim follows from the practical point of view (Street, 2012).
No Child Left Behind (NCLB): Federal standards-based education reform, passed in 2001. Mandates the use of high-stakes testing at the state level for continued qualification for federal school funding. Theoretically, this act provides equal emphasis across all subjects, including arts education in general and music education in particular, but in practice, schools have reduced emphasis on the arts to focus on core subjects testing in reading and mathematics.
Pedagogy: The methodology that informs a particular teaching practice. A set of epistemological assumptions and approaches to education content, classroom practice, and teacher-student relationships (Crabtree, Sapp & Licona, 2009).
Socioeconomic Status (SES): The social standing, class, or combined general wealth of a person or group. Generally defined along a ‘spectrum’ encompassing income and education, with lower income and education being those whose SES is lower, and the opposite (Sheldon, Doyle, & Baum, 2006).
Texas Essentials of Knowledge and Skills (TEKS): Texas state standards for education, running from kindergarten through Grade 12. These standards pertain to music education and general aptitude in rubrics that reflect requirements for elementary, middle, and high school students.


The Texas Essentials of Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards do not require that elementary students achieve any specific music proficiency or learn to perform on a musical instrument at elementary grade level (Texas Education Code, 2013). It is only expected that students will actively engage in the learning process for all subjects, music included.
Because music education is important to a comprehensive education and because basic music literacy is an expectation on the part of the state for students within its boundaries, the execution of the proposed study is of significance in that it addresses the identified problem, music illiteracy, as a dependent variable within the context of elementary school education. The outcomes of the proposed study, further, will add to the extant body of relevant knowledge in that it is expected that they will illuminate the causes for music illiteracy and provide resources to remedy the identified deficits. Teaching the recorder as one means for addressing music illiteracy will be systematically explored as a contributor to student achievement in this area.

The Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to discover the level to which teaching the recorder in the elementary grades will reduce music illiteracy.

Research Questions

Guiding this study will be the following research questions:
Are elementary school students currently able to read music?
Are elementary school students currently able to understand basic musical notation?
Do elementary school students currently possess recorder performance skills?
What are the causes of music illiteracy for contemporary elementary school student cohorts?
Theoretical Framework
The current lack of standards and poor effort with regard to maintaining student enthusiasm and literacy suggests a lack of constructivist pedagogy. For this reason, a constructivist model will inform this consideration of teacher priorities and student proclivities. The major purpose of this study will be to define ways in which educators have identified deficiencies in the current model of relaying musical knowledge to students but also enthusiasm for musical practice. This enthusiasm, if properly relayed, may form the core of a lifetime of musical passion from which students will glean lifelong benefits. Constructivism as a theoretical basis for teaching the recorder in order to teach note reading and other music literacy skills and knowledge is integral to this study in that it provides a means for assessing current levels of academic achievement. It provides comparative measurements and a cumulative approach to improving music literacy.
In order to understand the purpose of the study, cases and variables should be named. Here the cases should be the teachers, but also the students in order to focus on their development after applying the variables of the study. The variables should be the attributes of the case, in order to record or measure the qualities of the study. As a practical example if the cases are the students, the variables could be the age, sex, the level of education, the ability to response at the learning method used, level of musical knowledge acquired, and desire to accumulate knowledge. The case should vary in relation with the attributes interaction. As an example, student with different level of musical knowledge will be able to understand different and perceive in alternative ways the utility of using recorder in order to improve music literacy.
For students with a low economic social environment should be maybe an appropriate way to use a recorder because it is an accessible instrument, which is simple to learn playing it and can practice in school in order to understand and improve music literacy. Due to the instrument, the student needs to learn to read scores in order to sing the instrument, which will provide a proper exercise that will help in two ways. First, student will learn to play to an instrument that helps them in many ways such as cognitive functions will be increase by processing and retaining more quickly the information and making better choice and decision regarding life decision.
The need to practice at the instrument will help the student to read the notes many times a day, daily if is possible which due to the process of repetition will gain field in the musical notes ambit, in order not to read only notes but also rhythmic values, dynamics, sings of expression.

“Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory” And “Piaget Theory of Cognitive Development”

This study has constructed its conceptual framework based on the “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory.” In his theory, Maslow establish that human race is motivated to fulfill certain needs and when one need is fulfilled, the person seeks to fulfill the next one and this cycle goes on to the another line to gain more in the scale of personal development. Maslow structured these needs into a hierarchy pyramid model divided in five needs, at the base of the pyramid, the most urgent needs and in the top we find the complex needs. At the bottom, the first level is consisted by the biological needs such as food, drink, sleep, sex, shelter and warm, the second level consists of safety needs such as security of employment, of the family, of poverty, of health stability, the third level consist love and belongings needs which includes family, friendship and sexual intimacy, the fourth level consist esteem needs such as confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others and on the top of the pyramid at the fifth level are consisted in self-actualization needs such as morality, creativity, spontaneity and acceptance of facts.
In order to gain motivation this needs should be fulfill in the proposed order to the urgent need to the more complex. Maslow’s theory is related to this study for the development of the higher levels of the pyramid in order to develop a better understanding of the importance of music literacy in school, due to the recorder used as a musical instrument by helping in developing the needs of the students to learn and understand better score reading.
Another theory useful in this study is “Piaget Theory of Cognitive Development.” According to Piaget, children progress thru a series of four stages of cognitive development. Each stage is related on how kids understand the world and the evolution is marked by period of growing and intellectual development. This theory helps this study in order to understand how people perceive and understand music at different level of cognitive development. For children between 7 to 11, the process will be different the from adolescence.


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