A Program of Mastery Learning in Basic Music Theory
Oxley, Terry A.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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The purpose of this paper is to apply mastery learning principles to basic music theory instruction. The students in the Ninth Grade Band at Rhinelander High School present a unique problem in terms of their music theory background. Most started band in the seventh grade and share the same approximate level. Due to job opportunities in the community, a considerable number of students have transfered into the school district. These students often have band backgrounds from the sixth or even fifth grade and possess a much more detailed knowledge and background in music theory than students who have begun in the Rhinelander band program. At the other end of the spectrum, there are two private elementary schools in the community, which offer.no band, and very little music education other than vocal music. These students begin their band careers in the ninth grade. Music students arrive in the ninth grade band program with a wide range of knowledge in music theory. It is difficult to introduce and teach the basics of music theory to those students who are deficient and not lose the interest and attention of those who already understand and can apply those principles. In order to enjoy success as a band, all students must be brought to the same knowledge level as quickly as possible. The time taken from band rehearsal must be of sufficient length for students who are behind to grasp new material while not allowing the rest of the class to become disenchanted by a lack of progress. Mastery learning is one alternative educational method through which the wide range of knowledge and background may be overcome. The amount of time spent in large group instruction is minimal. Behavioral objectives are presented prior to the introduction of the unit and each student is allowed the time necessary to obtain mastery as established in the objectives.