UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE)

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Name of Author: 
Yeo, Siew Cheng
Thesis (M.Ed.) National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Howard, John
Year of completion: 
Country of Research Data: 

This research study was more explorative than hypothesis-testing in nature. The purpose of this research was to explore whether a specially-planned eclectic approach to music-making in the mixed instrumental ensemble would increase the level of music appreciation and musicianship of primary school students in Singapore schools. It was also an attempt to evoke more interest in active music-making in the mixed instrumental ensemble, deviating from the common practice of ensemble teachers "drilling" students for performances. Six primary school mixed instrumental ensembles, selected from a pool of over 70 primary schools representing government schools and government-aided schools, formed the experimental and control groups in the 24-week study. The three control group schools followed the "traditional" method of learning instruments and preparation for performance, that is, learning to read music and being drilled to perform a prescribed number of ensemble pieces. On the other hand, the three experimental group schools used an eclectic approach devised by the investigator. The eclectic approach emphasizes the development of musical skills through listening, singing, performing, creativity and appreciation of different musics. These musical skills are developed basically through performing on the pianica, recorder and percussion instruments in the ensemble. A qualitative approach, the naturalistic inquiry, was used in this study as the investigator strongly believed that a purely statistical approach would not be effectively carried out in this research. The data was collected over a period of 24 weeks and derived from the following sources: (a) teachers' questionnaires; (b) students' questionnaires (given as pre-test and post-test); (c) interviews with students and teachers in the experimental group; and (d) investigator's observations. The data was analysed through discussion and summary of the teachers' attitudes and musical knowledge, experimental group students' and teachers' perceptions and reactions to the eclectic approach, students' perceptions, behaviour, attitude and reaction towards music learning and participation in the mixed instrumental ensemble. The findings of the study generated implications that a positive attitude to musicianship and an appreciation for music can be cultivated in any child, given the appropriate musical stimulation. It is recognised that active and meaningful music-making in the mixed instrumental ensemble are dependent upon many factors. Details of the findings and recommendations are discussed in Chapter V. It is hoped that the findings of this research will encourage music educators, music teachers and the authorities to have a fresh look at how to provide students with a reservoir of meaningful musical experiences in the mixed instrumental ensemble and other musical groups.

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