To Doh or Not To Doh - The Comparative Effectivenes of Sightsinging Syllable Systems

Mary Jo Lorek & Randall G. Pembrook

The selection of a proper syllable system to facilitate and improve sightreading has been a topic of debate among sightsinging instructors for years. While teachers and students seem to have preferences for various systems (preferences which they typically will defend vehemently when challenged), often the favored approach is a function of which system was learned first. Killian (1991) mentions the "this works for me school of thought." Rogers (1996) labels the state of sightsinging instruction in the United States as being a " . . . pedagogical hodge-podge." At times the choice is based on a careful review of the perceived merits inherent in a given system. Another manner of selecting a system, wherein choices are based on information attesting to the effectiveness of a particular approach, has been virtually unavailable due to the sparsity of research relating to syllable systems. In 1959, Bentley insisted that "proof must be given from experiments in which each system is used with equal enthusiasm by equally good teachers, and with groups of pupils of comparable age, ability and interest." Unfortunately, few studies of this type have been reported.