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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.

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