Critical Thinking in the Choral Rehearsal
Date: March 20, 2013
(An excerpt from the interest session, "Critical Thinking in the Choral Rehearsal," by Jessica Napoles [with Sandra Babb and Matthew Garrett]. Presented during the 2013 ACDA National Conference.)
Critical thinking skills are valued in education throughout the curriculum, and there are tremendous benefits for music students when teachers incorporate critical thinking into daily lesson plans. Research has shown that the amount of critical thinking activity in traditional performance-based classes is relatively low. Possible reasons for the absence of critical thinking include performance demands and time constraints, as well as lack of formal training or professional development in the realm of critical thinking as it directly applies to the choral rehearsal. Defining critical thinking, assessing what choral directors already know and do, and providing strategies for implementation and assessment will give conductors tools to return to their classrooms equipped with knowledge to increase the amount of time and the number of activities that incorporate critical thinking, while maintaining rehearsal integrity and increasing students’ potential for independent musicianship. Students who leave their school music experience with the skills necessary to make and enjoy music as adults have achieved a goal of lifelong learning. Teaching critical thinking is one way to advance this goal.
John Dewey stressed the importance of making transfers of contextual knowledge from one situation to another. Researchers in music education point out that students do not make transfers unless we teach them to do so. Dewey, Bloom, De Turk, Brophy and Marzano have each contributed to the current trends and understanding of critical thinking. The two-dimensional model of thinking presented in the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy provides the basis for development of critical thinking skills in the choral rehearsal. It is important to give students opportunities to analyze, evaluate and create. Reflective questioning generated during student-teacher interactions can increase these opportunities. Utilizing appropriate formative and formal assessments, teachers provide the kinds of feedback that will ultimately increase student achievement. Direct observation and video analysis allow teacher to self-assess time spent in critical thinking activities with their choral students.
(The ACDA National Conference is just one of the many benefits of membership in the American Choral Directors Association. Join ACDA today.)