Developing strategies for teaching aural musicianship in Kenyan secondary schools
Mbeche, Gesare Cleniece
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Many scholars, for example Kodaly, Dalcroze and Campbell would argue for the important role of aural musicianship in Music Education. One of the purposes of Music Education is the creation of an environment in which the human potential is nurtured to bring forth and understand a variety of musical experiences. Music is a phenomenon that is experienced through the ear so the basis of all instructional programmes should be the cultivation of an acute musical ear, which is developed when emphasis in music is focused on auditory discrimination and analysis. The ability to discriminate aurally between sounds leads to aesthetic growth and sensitivity, which enables one to respond to music aesthetically, intellectually and emotionally, thereby gaining deeper meaning from musical experiences. The main aim of this study was to develop strategies for teaching aural musicianship in Kenyan secondary schools. It was noted that a majority of candidates taking the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination (hereafter KCSE) consistently perform poorly in aural musicianship, a situation that warrants further investigation to determine the causes. Purposive sampling was used to select schools offering music as a subject. Out of twenty schools, six were selected to form the sample. The study was conducted using quasiexperimental method of research. Selected experimental groups were exposed to newlydeveloped teaching strategies while the control group continued with the current methods used by teachers (described later in the document). In terms of data organization, the randomized pre-test post-test control group experimental design was used for generation of appropriate data. Among data collection instruments used were interview schedules, questionnaires, attitude scales and non-participant observation. Data from the questionnaires were coded using Statistical Package for Social Sciences. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used; descriptive statistics used were tables, graphs and charts while inferential statistics used included the T-test for independent means. Analysis of Covariance, effect size index and the Null Hypothesis Statistical Technique. Findings from the study revealed that systematic teaching or sequential instruction has great potential for improvement of aural musicianship performance. Established teaching strategies employed by the teachers gave little empowerment to the students to do aural work on their own. A variety of teaching resources for aural musicianship were available but teachers lacked essential skills for their use in teaching aural skills. Unfortunately, data showed that some of the teachers did not understand the importance of, or what aural training entailed. This may have led to their negative attitude towards aural training, which in turn spread to some students. To counter this, the study generated a learning sequence based on readily available song material for teaching aural musicianship to secondary school learners in Kenya but the approach is applicable in similar circumstances elsewhere. Some of the recommendations made after the study were that methods used should be informed by current research trends and approaches; that curriculum developers should design the course in a way that music knowledge acquired in other areas of the curriculum is synthesized; and above all, since music education develops in the social, cultural and economic context within a society, the rich cultural heritage of available folk music should be used consistently to teach music concepts and procedures in the classroom, commensurate with modern trends in music education. While music is no longer being offered as an examinable subject at KCSE level, it is critical for those music teachers who have the opportunity to participate and teach aural musicianship with the serious approach it deserves, to have this as a mind set and a way of conducting instructional activity.