Focused Instruction

The Effect of Focused Instruction on Children’s Response to Culturally Unfamiliar Music

The inclusion of music from a variety of the world’s cultures in school music teaching has been one of the most significant curricular developments of the past several decades. Yet little research has been conducted on specific cognitive outcomes associated with such instruction. Are there particular music skills that are supported or enhanced by world music instruction? By employing an extended, specific and immersive curricular model in elementary music classroom, MCCL researchers have found that memory performance–one measure of music learning–for culturally unfamiliar music did not improve relative to that for more culturally familiar styles. Future projects will examine variations on this instructional model as well as other variables that may be more sensitive to limited units of music study.

The Effect of Focused Instruction on Kindergartners’ Singing Accuracy

The skill of vocal pitch-matching is often a prerequisite for participating in even the most casual singing activities. The absence of singing ability can lead to self-perceptions of unmusicality or tone deafness that can inhibit participation in any form of music-making. While the development of vocal pitch-matching skills has been studied with a number of different age-groups and under different conditions, a clear picture of the nature of the skills of perception and pitch production has yet to emerge. The lack of clarity may be due to the complex and internal nature of the process, to differences in research approaches, or to the fact that pitch-matching skills seem to emerge quite naturally in a majority of people without formal training. We are interested in exploring the relative influence of social, perceptual and physiological factors on children’s ability to match pitch and sing accurately. We are also interested in exploring strategies that might help young children learn to sing more accurately. This first study looks at the effects of daily singing instruction on the development of accurate singing for children ages 5-6.