those abilities, and for schools to be accountable to the government, students must achieve high
scores on standardized examinations. Schools are directed by the national government to do
whatever it takes to make that happen.
The question for music teachers is how they can meet the mandates of language literacy
without compromising the goals and objectives of music education. In the instance of the high
school in this study, the administration required all teachers, regardless of their subject area, to
use reciprocal teaching in their classrooms. This mandate served as the catalyst for us to
investigate how reciprocal teaching might be enacted in musical ensembles. We agree with
Fowler’s (2001) contention that strong arts make strong schools.
Reciprocal teaching is an instructional strategy used in language arts involving
dialogue or conversation between teachers and their students. Palincsar and Brown (1985,
1986), generally credited with first describing reciprocal teaching, applied summarizing,
question generating, clarifying, and predicting strategies to help students bring meaning to
literary texts. Collectively, these strategies constitute what is now called reciprocal teaching.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to see what happened when ideas from reciprocal teaching
were applied to ensemble rehearsals with the goal of improving students’ musical
understanding. The study involved using these ideas with an orchestra in an urban high school
in the U.S. Midwest and an auditioned choral ensemble at an affluent community music school
affiliated with a college on the U.S. east coast. Specifically, we asked to what extent do the
strategies of reciprocal teaching foster the musical understanding of students in high school
musical performing ensembles.