The effect of sight-singing on sight-reading in the high school string classroom
Thomas, Kelly Erin
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The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of structured vocal sight-singing instruction on instrumental sight-reading performance and to determine the validity of the Alexander and Henry Pitch-Skill Hierarchy (2012). Using a pretest-posttest design, four research questions were addressed: (1) Did structured instruction in sight- singing significantly improve instrumental sight-reading? (2) Is the Alexander and Henry Pitch-Skill Hierarchy (2012) valid for high school string players of varying instrumental sight-reading ability? (3) Did the performance of high school string players of varied ability, after receiving structured instruction in sight-singing, validate the Pitch-Skill Hierarchy established by Alexander and Henry (2012)? (4) Do factors beyond the control of the experiment, such as gender, age, grade level, private lessons, theory instruction, and previous instruction in singing, have any influence on the students’ instrumental sight-reading ability? Thirty-one North Georgia high school students participated in the study. The participants were volunteers registered for a bi-weekly extension period in addition to a daily orchestra class. The students were divided into two statistically equal groups based on a pretest. The control group received instrumental sight-reading instruction only. The experimental group received vocal sight-singing instruction on solfege along with instrumental instruction. Both groups performed a posttest after the eight-week treatment period. The pre- and posttest used were the Alexander and Henry Sight-Reading Test (2012). Students were graded for accuracy on 31 pitch-skills comprised of eight categories. The results indicated that although the experimental group performed better than the control group, the difference was not significant. Pretest score, age, instrument, and key signature all had a significant effect on the results of the posttest. Using the same method as the Alexander and Henry study, the difficulty level of pitch-skill categories was assessed to validate the Pitch-Skill Hierarchy. The pretests of all the students and the posttests of the two groups each ranked the pitch-skill categories in a different order than the original hierarchy. These results proved the Alexander and Henry Pitch-Skill Hierarchy invalid for students of differing abilities. In conclusion, the research indicates that vocal sight-singing instruction has a positive impact on instrumental sight-reading.