Document Type

Journal Article


Australian Society for Music Education


Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Education / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications




Lowe, G. M., & Belcher, S. (2012). Direct instruction and music literacy: one approach to augmenting the diminishing?. Australian Journal of Music Education, 2012(1), 3 - 13. Available here


One of the many challenges facing music educators is diminishing class time in lower secondary school in the face of the increasingly crowded curriculum and the advent of arts 'taster' courses. However, music educators are still expected to be able to produce musically literate students capable of completing high level music courses in upper secondary school. This article reports on an intervention study which set out to accelerate music literacy acquisition among Year 7 students through use of a Direct Instruction (DI) teaching approach. Although controversial, Direct Instruction was chosen because its advocates claim its effectiveness and time efficiency in teaching basic skills. The study involved the development of a carefully scripted 10 minute per lesson DI music literacy program which was then implemented in a control group research setting. Two classes of Year 7 students (40 students) were taught music literacy via the DI program, while two separate Year 7 classes (34 students) acted as the control group. The intervention was administered over a trimester of 20 lessons (13 weeks), with levels of student music literacy tested via Gordon's Iowa Tests for Music Literacy at both the pre and post-test stages. The results revealed significant increases in music literacy levels among the DI classes, especially on the measures of rhythmic literacy. Given these results, the researchers recommend further investigation of the potential of DI as an instructional method in music education for better utilising diminishing class teaching time and improving student music literacy levels among lower secondary school students.

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