School of Music


Master of Arts in Music Education (MA)


Nathan Street


auditory development, sound before symbol, experiential learning, beginning strings


Education | Music


Integrating auditory and visual learning is vital in instrumental music instruction. There is an order of precedence that guides the teaching sequence to raise students who can hear and read the music they play. In order to teach students to think musically while reading notation important auditory preparation needs to take place. It should not occur via passive listening but via active music-making. This practice-based method creates experiential knowledge of music which can then lead to a conceptual understanding of musical symbols. Such practical engagement produces positive long-term effects on the depth of skill and the emotional state of the learner. Despite studies in cognitive development, most method books implement significant reliance on conceptual learning or symbolic representation. Guided by the neuroscience available, this applied research investigates a sound-based approach that serves as a step to traditional method books in elementary string classes. Perspectives on auditory processing and what Csikszentmihalyi refers to as the “flow state” have emerged as exploratory themes among existing literature. Such comprise of personal interviews with participating students who are enrolled in beginning strings classes. To address the gap in research pertaining to learning to read music, this research provides an experience-first curriculum, tracks the engagement, and survey the participating families about their learning experiences. This project will serve as a preparatory method for note-reading and explore the difference in pedagogical sequence between traditional and sound-first methods of teaching beginner strings classes.