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Childrens spontaneous recognition of musical structures

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My brother and I made up Gregorian chants. Singing together while sister played piano ... I had little training or contact with musicians until 11-12. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Childrens spontaneous recognition of musical structures


1
Childrens spontaneous recognition of musical
structures
  • Richard Parncutt and Margit Painsi
  • University of Graz

Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für
Musikpsychologie, Würzburg, September 2005
2
Aims
  • How and why do children spontaneously recognize
    musical pitch structures?
  • Application ear training courses

3
Background Skill acquisition
  • Genetic/nativist approach
  • interaction between genes and environment
  • Expertise approach
  • more practice ? more skill
  • Critical periods
  • earlier practice ? more skill
  • (Intrinsic) motivation
  • more motivation ? more practice ? more skill
  • nature or nurture?

4
Background Skill interdependence
  • Musical skills
  • General musicality?
  • Independent specific skills?
  • Is audiation central?
  • Origins of audiation origins of musicality?

5
Background Memory
  • Strong for meaningful events
  • Unreliable if
  • Event too early or late in lifespan
  • Long time between event and recall
  • BUT
  • Longitudinal observation of skill acquisition is
    also problematic

6
Background Questionnaires
7
Approach
  • Personal interviews
  • In-depth descriptions
  • Internet questionnaire
  • Plenty of data
  • Both
  • Participants motivated by desire to understand
    own aural skills

8
Structure of questionnaire
  • 4 modules
  • Preliminary
  • Early
  • Instrumental
  • Advanced

9
Data selection and elimination
  • Collected 1-8 September 2005
  • Not analysed
  • 17 participants gave no info on aural course
  • 7 did not get A (analyse separately)
  • Some did not complete all modules
  • Analysed
  • Remaining 19 (as pilot)

10
Personal details General
  • Gender 10 female, 9 male
  • Country Australia 2, Canada 5, Finland 2, New
    Zealand 2, Sweden 1, USA 7
  • Western English-language bias of internet
  • Age mean 40, min 22, max 64
  • Have older people forgotten more ?

11
Personal details Musical
  • Years of musical practice
  • mean 33, min 18, max 61
  • Mutual reinforcement performance-audiation?
  • Main instrument
  • piano or other keyboard 12, flute 3, classical
    guitar 2, electric bass 1, trombone 1
  • Does keyboard provide a better visual
    representation of aural structures?

12
Before first instrument
  • Family member whose musical activities were
    experienced most often
  • mother 6, father 6, brother 2, sister 2,
    grandfather 2, no answer 1
  • The specific activities
  • keyboard (piano/organ) 5, choir 4, more than one
    instrument 3, listening 2, solo singing 2, violin
    1, composition 1, unstated instrument 1
  • ? keyboard and choir especially important?

13
Instruments in the home
  • yes 18 no 1 cant remember 0
  • ? Clearly important
  • List instruments
  • piano 15, violin 5, clarinet 4, recorder 4,
    guitar 3, banjo 2, trumpet 2, mandolin 2, bells
    1, concertina 1, flute 1, glockenspiel 1,
    harmonica 1, saxophone 1, ukulele 1, viola 1,
    accordion 1
  • 46 instruments / 19 people 2.5 / person
  • ? More than one instrument is good
  • ? Piano is important

14
Musical toys in the home
  • 9 of 19 participants responded
  • xylophone 4, recorder 2, toy piano 2, drums 2,
    wind-up toys 2, glockenspiel 1, tambourine 1
  • ? Less important than real instruments - or just
    forgotten?

15
Early musical activities
  • Active person
  • mother 9, father 4, brother , other 1, no answer
    4
  • Materials
  • lullabies, hymns, traditional and folk songs,
    Christmas songs, Suzuki songs, hand-clapping
    song, songbooks
  • Examples
  • Mother at piano while kids play drums sleigh
    bells
  • Mother sang, I played by ear
  • Mother taught me songs on the piano
  • Dad made up songs about our family
  • My brother and I made up Gregorian chants
  • Singing together while sister played piano
  • Singing at seniors homes

16
Early musical activities
  • Duration
  • mean 6.7 years
  • Frequency (7-point scale)
  • 5.1
  • Age at middle of period
  • 6.0 years

17
Early musical activities
  • How enjoyable?
  • mean 6.4
  • ? Enjoyment ? motivation ? practice
  • Specific emotions?
  • joy (2x), loved it, keen, importance, envy,
    cried, total fulfilment, exhilaration, happy,
    secure, safe, sense of accomplishment, exciting,
    anger, fear, rebelliousness, emotions for which
    we have no words, part of life - like breathing.

18
Early musical activities
  • How important were early musical activities for
    development of your aural abilities (opinion
    now)?
  • 6.3
  • Why?
  • Developed listening skills, musical memory, orch.
    rep.
  • Developed perfect pitch.
  • Early singing early musical development. Simple
    as that.
  • I was surrounded by music at a very early age.
  • I often listened to recordings and
    imitated/arranged them.
  • Learning before age 8 is essential to ingrain
    skills, which is why I do not remember the
    learning process.
  • I had little training or contact with musicians
    until 11-12.
  • Formal musical ear training was about attaching
    labels to pitch relationships that I already
    understood.

19
First year of playing
  • Age at which began to play instrument regularly
  • mean 6.5 years, min 2, max 15
  • ? Early start important?
  • Instruments played in first year
  • mainly one instrument (first instr. mean 90)
  • piano 13, violin 2, drums, flute, guitar,
    recorder
  • ? Piano is best first instrument?

20
First year of playing
  • Regular musical activities at that time
  • Practice alone 5.7 days / week _at_ 1.7 hours
  • Ensemble rehearsal 0.8 days / week _at_ 0.7 hours
  • Performance 1.2 days / week _at_ 0.7 hours
  • Lots of practice plus some ensemble and
    performance
  • Introverted behavior
  • Situations in which learned about music
  • Conventional music lessons 68
  • Working out pieces by ear alone 17
  • Mental practice 10
  • Composing alone at instrument 8
  • Playing by ear with friends or family 7
  • Composing with friends or family 0
  • ? Conventional lessons are important

21
First memory of recognizing pitch structures
Age mean 8.3 years, min 3, max 16. What happened
22
Musical styles
Participant selection ? bias towards classical?
23
Age at which structures recognized
? Consolidate basic structures before building on
them
24
Kinds of notation used
  • Conventional 80
  • Chord symbols 9
  • Relative solfege 6
  • Absolute solfege 3
  • Tablature 1
  • Graphs 1
  • Non-western 1
  • ? No need for alternative notations?

25
Musical activities since then
  • Contribution of musical activities to aural skill
    development
  • Solo practice and performance 18
  • Listening to (any) music 11
  • Choir 10
  • Classroom ear training 9
  • Improvisation 7
  • Music theory 7
  • Ensemble performance 6
  • Music analysis 6
  • Playing by ear 6
  • Conducting 4
  • Composition and arrangement 4
  • Mental practice 4
  • Informal practice 2
  • Self-directed ear training 2

26
Inherited or learned?
  • Source of info for opinion then
  • Compare memory with current knowledge 8x,
    parents then 2x, peer comparison then 2x, other
    2x, no answer 5x
  • ? Best to believe that aural skills are mainly
    learned

27
Evaluation of questionnaire
  • How well does it achieve aims? (7-point scale)
  • 4.5
  • How confident about answers?
  • 5
  • Suggestions
  • Ask about ethnic affiliation, gender and identity
  • Avoid a normal model of musicality, dont
    encourage certain types of responses or
    experiences
  • Test listening ability with online responses
  • Ask if someone in immediate childhood environment
    was NOT musical (e.g. my father)

28
Further comments
  • Difficult to answer many questions because I was
    never aware of developing my aural skills.
  • Maybe I'm too old and my experiences were too
    long ago.
  • My parents, grandparents and great-grandparents
    were all German-Americans. (Implication
    separate musical traditions)

29
Conclusions
  • Aural skills linked to other musical skills
  • All gain from early, frequent, long-term,
    meaningful engagement
  • Aural skills may be entirely learned
  • Early musical motivation is largely extrinsic
  • No evidence against genetic inheritance

30
Educational implications Individual
  • Recommendations to parents
  • make and enjoy music
  • own several instruments incl. keyboard
  • encourage child from an early age (6?) to
  • be curious (about music)
  • play and hear a lot of music
  • play and hear the piano
  • sing in choirs
  • take conventional music lessons
  • - but only if its fun for child as well as
    yourself

31
Educational implications Institutional
  • More musical fun in primary school
  • More musically meaningful activities in
    secondary school
  • No ear training at university
  • Doesnt work
  • May reinforce beliefs of lack of musical ability
  • Better to focus on theory?

32
Outlook
  • Original aim was not achieved
  • Memory does not reveal how people spontaneously
    begin to notice structures.
  • More data needed
  • all conclusions preliminary
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