It’s a privilege to share my little experience and have a discussion with people that more qualified than myself on Church Music Teaching Methods. Let us ask ourselves this question: What is church music? Is there any universal method of teaching music in the church? Do we have structured methods of teaching music in the Church?
The keyword in this topic is church music teaching method. First and foremost how do we teach church music? What teaching methods is best for church music?
WHAT IS CHURCH MUSIC?
Let us move forward a little step. Discussing this topic will never be complete without understand the meaning of church music?
There is a lot of definition of church music, but I have chosen the Wikipedia, the definition “Church music is music written for performance in church, or any musical setting of Ecclesiastical liturgy or music set towards expressing proportions a sacred nature, such as a hymn.
Also, Adedeji (2007) also defines Christian music as: All brands and categories of music consumed in the Christendom whether by the church, parachurch or non-church organizations.”
Even though Christian music has its root in Christian religion and doctrine, it’s values and standards transcend the church walls (the place of worship).
Permit me to say this I have spent the last 48 hours of research on methods to teach music in the church. It is important to know note there is no universal method of teaching music in the church I have also come to realize through my findings there are no specific method to teach music in the church. I stand being corrected. However, as a teacher, organist or choirmaster, there is a need to understand the teaching methods in music education to some of this method in our teaching in church. I will advise colleagues to be innovative and carve a niche for ourselves by having different methods of teaching that will be acceptable by our choristers.
MUSIC TEACHING METHODS
The Cambridge dictionary defines method as a particular way of doing something. The method can also be defined as ordinarily, well planned way of doing something. A method can also be a procedure by which a goal or a purpose is accomplished.
Teaching method therefore means the process by which the teacher presents his lessons before his/her students. In music teaching, the process includes the tone of his voice, and manner and the expression on his/her face.
TYPES OF MUSIC EDUCATION TEACHING METHODS
There are various methods of teaching music generally used across the disciplines, some of these methods can be adapted to teach music in the church. These are all my favorite;
- Problem solving method. In a problem solving method, students learn by working on problems. This enable the students to learn a new knowledge by facing the problems to be solved.
- Play way method: This is a complete package that enables overall development of the students by developing in terms of feelings intellect and skills parameters. This method is usually applied to younger learners.
- Demonstration method: This is the process of teaching through example or experiment for example , a science teacher may teach an idea by performing an experiment for students. A demonstration may be used to prove a fact through a combination of visual evidence and associated reasoning. A music teacher may use this method to teach stage performance and expressions to students.
- Lecture method: This is probably the most commonly used method of teaching in regular schools. Most teachers find it more convenient to use the lecture method than any other method of teaching. The method may not be suited for today’s learners and especially for music.
- Discussion/group: This is an example of a problem centered method. It is a technique of talking over problems under consideration. In groups of varying sizes, the discussion may be controlled or directed by the leadership, or it may be permissive.
- Field trip/Excursion: This involves a trip by students to gain first hand knowledge away from the classroom, as to a museum, factory, geological area, or environment of certain plants and animals.
- Assignment method. In this teaching method, the teacher creates an assignment with clear instructions, milestones, and grading criteria based on an outcome that the students needs to achieve.
- Storytelling method: This is a very interesting method of teaching that makes teaching and learning process lively and interesting if properly used.
- Project (or research) method: It is a teaching method that encourages the selection of a topic by the class under the guidance of the teacher.
- Socratic or inductive method: This is the process of reasoning from many known facts to one general law. It leads the students from what they have known to what they have to know. For inductive method to be successful, previous experience should be recalled in order to provide a solid background for proper thinking (Adeyemo 1965. 103-104). This teaching method will be useful to teach scales-major & minor, composition and musical genres.
- Dalton Plan/Heuristic method: In Heuristic method, the student are put in the place of an independent discovery. There is no help or guidance is provided by the teacher in this method. In this method the teacher sets a problem for the student’s and then stands aside while they discover the answer.
- Discovery method: This is an approach to instruction through which students interact with their environment by exploring and manipulating objects, wrestling with questions and controversies or performing experiments (Ormod , 1995.p may ,23 2019)
- Kodaly method: This is a way of developing musical skills and teaching musical concepts beginning in very young children. This method uses folk songs, Curwen hand signs, pictures, movable-do, rhythm symbols and syllables.
WHAT ARE THE ROLE OF CHOIRMASTER/ORGANISTS AND MUSIC DIRECTOR?
Music plays a significant role in the church. Church music ought to reflect the Scriptures. Music has a lot of importance in the Christian church. It is my view and opinion that any organist or choirmaster that is willing to teach music in the church must be filled with the Holy Spirit. He/she must have a relationship with God and passion for church music. He/she should understand the purpose of music in the church and making a beautiful sound to glorify God using music as the vehicle to worship.
The church music director or choirmaster in question must understand the Scriptures and various seasons in church calendar to enable him/her to teach music in line with various seasons and must acquire musical skills, spiritual and have a leadership skill. In addition, church music should not be selective. The organist/choirmaster or the teacher should teach patiently and carefully. He/she must be prepared for each rehearsal and lastly, beware of using terminology and come down to the level of the choristers.
In conclusion, as I have said earlier from the beginning of my lecture there is no specific or universal method for teaching music in the church. However, all the methods mentioned can be infused into our teaching in the church and called church teaching methods. As organists and choirmasters, we must embark on a teaching journey and have some pre- requisite and the knowledge of teaching methods this will greatly help and ease our teaching.
These are my own propounded methods of teaching church music;
- WhatsApp method.
- Appreciation method.
- Humming note method.
- Clapping method. and lastly,
- Part rehearsal method.
- Teach sound before music method.
As a teacher of music, organist/choirmaster we must learn how to interchange our music teaching methods if we want to remain relevant.
Compiled by Shosanya Babatunde Oluwaseyi, a member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, is a certified Cambridge Examiner for IGCSE Music, a part-time Music Teacher at the MUSON School of Music, former Head of Music at British International School, Victoria Island, Lagos and former Choirmaster/Organist, Victoria Fellowship Church International & Interdenominational. He holds Three (3) Masters Degree in Music Education, Music Theory and Composition and lastly Masters Degree Category, Teacher Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN).