Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



Major Professor

Mary Jane Connelly

Committee Members

D. Quarles, M. Lee, H. George


The purpose of this study was to document the singing schools held in the community of New Salem, Georgia, and their use of the shape-note teaching method. This method was compared to those of earlier singing school teachers to see if these methods have a place in the modern day choral classroom. Thirteen singing school students and teachers were interviewed and historical documents and artifacts were collected.

This study was conducted primarily as a historical research project; an effort to preserve the rural music education process as it has been passed down from one generation to another through the oral tradition. Lee (1988) stated that historical research in music education should include "a dedication to the preservation of oral history, because of the inevitable disappearance of oral culture and consequent loss of important human experience concerning music teaching and learning" (p. 116).

The interviews revealed that the singing schools had been held in the community since 1911 and possibly before that time. Several students who attended the singing schools in the community of New Salem attended normal schools held by the Stamps-Baxter Music Publishing Company, which had a branch in Chattanooga, Tennessee. One student from New Salem went on to become a professional singing school teacher for Stamps-Baxter. The interviews also revealed that the students greatly valued the music education they received at the singing schools and it had instilled in them a love of gospel music.

The teaching methods derived from the interviews were compared to others found in the research process and recommendations were made including the need for additional research.

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