School of Music


Master of Arts in Music Education (MA)


Karen Kuehmann


assessment, popular music pedagogy, National Coalition of Core Arts Standards, arranging, church music


Education | Music


The purpose of this applied research study was to determine how Composition/Theory Model Cornerstone Assessments (MCAs) could be adapted for a church music arranging curriculum that utilized popular music pedagogy and Nashville Numbers for notating brass, woodwind, percussion, and/or bass guitar orchestral sweetening. Orchestral sweetening referred to the addition of riffs (short repeated musical figures or melodies), pads (sustained harmonies), and punctations (rhythmic and harmonic emphases of lyrics or chord changes) to an existing rhythm and vocal arrangement. While Composition/Theory MCAs had been pilot-tested for composition tasks, the MCAs had yet to be applied to an arranging context, particularly one pertaining to popular church music focused on orchestral sweetening. This study sought to determine the effectiveness of such a curriculum on Family Christian Academy junior high and high school students’ arranging, performing, rehearsing, and evaluating skills. The researcher implemented a one-group pretest- posttest design with a pre-and post-measurement using a sample size of two students (n=2), both of whom were percussionists. An adaptation of Dimitra Kokotsaki’s self- assessment in music learning survey was administered for both measurements, and a paired-samples t-test was performed that determined that there was no significance between the measurements because of sample size. However, qualitative data analyzed from MCA documents, observations, recordings, and interviews supported the idea that students grew in their arranging abilities and were able to demonstrate basic understanding of rehearsing and performing. Recommendations for future research include repeating the study with a larger sample to determine significance as well as to test the curriculum with brass and woodwind instruments and bass guitar to determine its effectiveness for students who play those instruments.