Designing a curriculum to teach secondary schools conducting to increase their musicianship and ensemble



Publication Details

Miller, K. & Capaldo, S. John. (2011). Designing a curriculum to teach secondary schools conducting to increase their musicianship and ensemble. Making Sound Waves: Diversity, Unity, Equity: Proceedings of the XVIII National Conference (pp. 16-25). Victoria: Australian Society for Music.


This study examines the communication and musicianship developed through conducting between teachers and students in secondary school music ensembles. As conducting is regarded as a primary method of communication and musical leadership in music ensembles, it is essential for playing musicians to understand conducting gestures and techniques. In secondary school environments, it would seem important to teach students conducting gestures so they are better able to interpret, respond to and understand these gestures with the aim of improving their learning of the music and develop greater artistic awareness. Therefore, the developed curriculum is significant as it helps to address the documented gap in developing student musicianship in school-based ensembles. The curriculum was created using a design-based methodology commonly implemented in learning technology studies and adapted for music education. Knowledge, skills and understandings significant to learning conducting and increasing musicianship were identified and formed the basis of a draft document. A panel of experts including music professionals, conservatorium staff, curriculum teachers and ensemble directors from Australia and Canada were invited to take part in the development of the curriculum. The document was subsequently re-written and re-designed with the feedback from the panel that differed significantly in their view of teaching secondary school students about conducting. The completed curriculum will be implemented in a NSW secondary school in early 2011 and assessed for its effectiveness and value. The findings will be important in furthering our understanding of student learning and engagement in school-based music ensembles and the effectiveness of teaching musicianship through conducting.

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