An Investigation of the Musical Curricula and Instruction in Music Classes

April 8, 2010 / By: Brenda Joann Kelly

The intent of this study was to ascertain the status of music education in elementary music classes in the Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, especially pertaining to teacher training, the role of liturgical music, music curricula and instructional practices.  The sub-problems addressed music teachers’ education and training, the components of music curriculum, the teachers’ responsibilities for music in liturgies, the role of liturgical music in class, and the instructional practices, methods and activities employed in the classroom.

Music has held an honored place in the Catholic Church since its beginnings.  From the start of Catholic education, music also held an important role.  Music teachers in Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota were asked to complete a nineteen-question web-based survey in December 2009.  Fifty-six music educators from eighty-seven Catholic schools responded to the survey that was designed to address the study sub-problems.

Survey results indicated music teachers were well trained; all had bachelor degrees and thirty-five percent had graduate degrees.  Half of the teachers had some Orff training and a third had some Kodály training.  The majority of teachers had some responsibility for liturgical music and used music class time for preparation.  Most schools had a music curriculum and a majority of teachers used national music standards to determine what to teach.  Instilling values, transmitting cultural heritage, developing singing voices, musical skills and musical understanding were important objectives in music teaching.  Singing, playing rhythm instruments and listening were the most common music class activities.  Implications indicate the need for more music class time and resources.  The archdiocese should explore ways to provide more music classroom time and funding and continue hiring and supporting music teacher development.