An Examination of Sight-Singing Methods Among Adult Community Choir Members

September 23, 2010 / By: Caroline Desmond Crocker

The intent of this thesis was to examine the method and strategies adult community choir members employ when sight-singing music during a choral rehearsal. Three sub-questions addressing issues frequently cited in relation to sight-singing were examined: (1) What are the methods of sight-singing taught in American choral classrooms today? (2) At what stage of life was a method of sight-singing music acquired among adult community choir members? (3) Do adult singers incorporate an identifiable sight-singing method when sight-singing?

One hundred sixty-one members of the Fairfax Choral Society Adult chorus were invited to complete an online survey. Of the sixty who responded, fifty-seven fully completed useable surveys. Survey results are displayed through a series of bar graphs in chapter four; each bar graph represents the responses to an individual survey question or statement.

Survey results indicated that the majority of respondents (aged 51-75) were educated in the United States and provided the opportunity of music education in every year of schooling. Consistent with previous research and literature, survey results showed clear levels of agreement with the methods of sight-singing learned during schooling, specifically a majority of singers taught using the movable do—solfège system. Contrary to research findings, few respondents learned to sight-sing using the fixed do—numbers system. Surveyed data indicated most sight-singing training occurs late in education, mostly in high school, which is contrary to many educational philosophies for teaching music literacy. When responding to statements about current use of sight-singing and particular method, choir members agreed that they incorporate absolute letter names in their sight-singing of new music. Findings of the survey revealed a disparity between education of the choir members and rehearsal practices of the director. The majority of singers recognized that sight-singing is valuable in a rehearsal and even necessary, yet it is not considered required by the director to participate in the ensemble.