An Examination of the Use of Singing Activities in Recorder Instruction Among Elementary Music

April 20, 2009 / By: Erin P. Rosa

The intent of this study was to determine the current practices of elementary general music teachers in the Northern Virginia area regarding singing activities in the beginning recorder classroom. Five main areas were examined: (1) The perception of elementary music teachers regarding the value of singing in recorder instruction; (2) The reasons some music teachers choose not to incorporate singing activities into recorder instruction; (3) If elementary music teachers use singing activities in beginning recorder instruction; (4) The singing activities that elementary music teachers use in beginning recorder instruction; and (5) If elementary music teachers teach beginning recorder using a traditional-style method book.

Participants included 141 elementary general music teachers who currently teach beginning recorder in Fairfax County Public Schools in Northern Virginia. The data were gathered through an online survey. The survey consisted of twenty-nine questions organized into three main sections, including: personal information of the participant, in order to ensure a homogeneous population; beliefs and assumptions regarding singing and recorder instruction; and questions regarding classroom procedures in regards to incorporating singing activities in beginning recorder instruction. The majority of survey questions were forced-response, with three optional open-ended questions.

The data revealed that elementary general music teachers in the Fairfax County Public Schools agreed that singing is important in recorder instruction, and the majority of the participants integrated singing activities into their beginning recorder instruction. Most participants felt that they had adequate time to incorporate singing activities, and felt knowledgeable regarding what activities to include. Very few general music teachers who took the survey felt that recorder method books were sufficient in teaching beginning recorder, and many of the participants did not use a method book in their recorder curriculum. When asked what singing activities participants used in their beginning recorder classrooms, most participants incorporated the following: singing the lyrics of the recorder songs; singing the songs with sol-fa syllables; and singing the absolute letter names of the songs. Several other activities and ideas for integrating singing were written in by many participants.

In conclusion, general music teachers in the Fairfax County Public Schools agree with the current research that singing is important in beginning recorder instruction, and most of them uphold this belief by integrating singing into their recorder instruction on a regular basis.