RTRL.64: Required Choral Repertoire in Performance Assessment Events (Kramer & Floyd, 2019)


Kramer, M. K., & Floyd, E. G. (2019). Required choral repertoire in state music education performance events. Contributions to Music Education, 44, 39-54.

What did the researchers want to know?

What types of literature are included in required choral repertoire lists, and do the lists reflect the National Core Arts Standards for ensembles?

What did the researchers do?

Kramer and Floyd acquired the required repertoire lists for seven states (Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin) within the North Central division of the National Association for Music Education. They analyzed the lists according to text type (sacred or secular), text language, historic time period, style (Western art music or Non-Western, including spirituals/gospel, world music, and folk music), accompanied or a cappella, and whether it was a stand-alone piece or part of a larger work.

What did the researchers find?

Of the total 2,714 pieces included on the seven lists, 75% were Western art music. The most commonly included time period within Western art music was late 20th century, while the most commonly included type of non-Western music was international folk. More details can be found in the tables below. The most frequently represented geographic areas among folk and world music were North American (5.7%), English/Irish/Scottish (3.8%), and South American/Latin American (2%).

Among the individual states, Iowa’s list had the highest percentage of Western art music (81.7%) while Wisconsin had the lowest (63.8%). The most frequent language was English, which ranged from 59% in Michigan to 72% in Ohio, and the second most frequent was Latin, ranging from 17% in Ohio to 24% in Indiana. 

What does this mean for my classroom?

The National Core Arts Standards stress that students should experience varied repertoire representing diverse cultures, styles, genres, and historic periods. However, if repertoire choice is dictated by required lists for state performance assessments, “it is likely that a choral singer will receive an unbalanced choral music education, focusing mostly on 20th Century and contemporary Western art music” (p. 49). “Choral music educators should be challenged to look at their state’s required repertoire list with open eyes, focusing on the unequal proportions of historic time periods and musical styles” (p. 49). Choral directors should also consider playing a role “in influencing the process of repertoire selection in their state” (p. 50) because, “if music educators believe it is important to balance singers[‘] exposure to music from various Western time periods and Non-Western music traditions[,] then balance should be reflected in the required repertoire lists” (p. 49).

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