Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music



Major Professor

Barbara A. Murphy

Committee Members

Brendan P. McConville, Nathan Fleshner


University undergraduate instrumental music students possess a variety of abilities in ear-training regardless of their ability to perform on their major instrument. Some students may have received prior aural skills instruction in their middle and high school ensembles; their teachers may have included singing activities in their rehearsals. Scholarly research indicates incorporating aural skills in the teaching of instrumental ensembles improves students’ abilities in sight-reading, error detection, sense of tonality, and intonation. The purpose of this thesis is to identify the extent to which aural skills activities are being taught in U.S. middle and high school instrumental classrooms, and to advocate for their use by creating resources and example lessons for future classroom implementation. To discover what aural skills content middle and high school teachers include in their ensemble rehearsals, a survey was created to investigate current teaching practices of secondary instrumental teachers, with an emphasis on aural skills activities. The survey, written in QuestionPro, was distributed through the “Band Directors Group” on Facebook, a professional development community with over 25,000 members. The total number of participants in this study was 281 instrumental middle and high school teachers. The results of the survey indicate that a majority of teachers do include aural skills in their ensemble teaching. However, teachers wish they could include more aural skills in their ensembles, but lack the rehearsal time or resources to successfully implement these lessons prevent its implementation. Survey participants provided a list of published method books and resources they currently use as well as a short list of repertoire performed by their ensembles in the past year. Example exercises and sample lessons were created from these resources and repertoire to encourage teachers to discover creative ways to teach aural skills to their students.

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