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Early acquisition of musical aural skills

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2 School of Music, University of Illinois ICMPC Bologna 21-26 August 2006 ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Early acquisition of musical aural skills


1
Early acquisition of musical aural skills
  • Richard Parncutt1 Gary McPherson2 Margit
    Painsi1 Fränk Zimmer1
  • 1Department of Musicology, University of Graz
  • 2 School of Music, University of Illinois

ICMPC Bologna 21-26 August 2006
2
Aims
  • How and why do children spontaneously recognize
    musical pitch structures?
  • Improve ear training?
  • Exploratory qualitative study

3
Acquisition of musical aural skills Intuitive
cognitive model
  • Exposure phase
  • aural (visual, tactile-motor, linguistic) ?
    memory
  • Experimentation phase
  • match memory to performance by trial and error
  • Recognition phase
  • auditory pattern ? memory ? linguistic label

4
Background Skill acquisition
  • Nature/nurture
  • interaction between genes environment
  • Expertise approach
  • more practice ? more skill
  • Critical periods
  • earlier practice ? more skill
  • (Intrinsic) motivation
  • motivation ? practice ? skill

5
Background Subskill interdependence
  • Musical skills
  • general musicality or
  • independent specific skills?
  • Is audiation central?
  • Origins of musicality origins of audiation?

6
Relation to other approaches
Other studies Our study
real-time retrospective
any or average children children who will later have good aural skills
N small - medium N large
7
Methodological problem Memory
  • Strong for
  • meaningful events
  • Unreliable if
  • long ago
  • BUT
  • Longitudinal observation is also problematic
  • implicit skill acquisition

8
Methodological problem Questionnaires
Aspect Problem
Open question Unclear
Closed question Leading
Quantitative data Needs many participants
Qualitative data Needs openness and trust
9
Specific issues
  • Instrument
  • Specific early experiences
  • Age at onset of recognition
  • Situations
  • Active or passive
  • Motivation
  • Belief in talent

10
Data collection
  • period
  • Sep 2005 to June 2006
  • publicity
  • email lists
  • participants
  • 196
  • missing data
  • many

11
Sex of participants
  • 112 female
  • 84 male

12
Nationality of participants
  • 51 USA
  • 19 UK
  • 7 Canada
  • 5 Australia
  • Language of questionnaire
  • Western bias of internet

13
Age of participants
  • mean 36 years
  • min 18
  • max 83

14
Aural skills of participants
  • Best grade for an ear training test
  • A 109
  • B 23
  • C 3
  • D 1
  • E 1

15
Years of musical practice
  • mean 28
  • min 4
  • max 70
  • Does practice make perfect?

16
CV of average participant
  • Began to play regularly
  • aged 7 years (min 2, max 21)
  • Played continuously
  • stops for only 1 year
  • Filled our questionnaire
  • aged 36 years

17
Instrument
  • Are some instruments better
  • for ear training than others?

18
Main instrument
  • 59 piano
  • 8 guitar
  • 7 flute
  • 5 violin
  • Keyboard represents aural structures visually?
  • Parents of talented children choose piano?

19
First year of playing Instruments played
  • piano 63
  • violin 13
  • flute 6
  • guitar 5
  • recorder 4
  • others 9

20
Instruments in the home
  • 140 people named 311 instruments
  • piano (106)
  • guitar (40)
  • violin (28)
  • recorder (22)
  • flute, keyboard, trumpet, harmonica, cello,
    organ, clarinet, accordion, banjo/mandolin
  • Important for ear training?
  • 86 yes
  • 10 no
  • 4 cant remember

21
Why piano?
22
Early musical experiences
  • Early before learning first instrument
  • What early musical experiences promote
    development of aural skills?

23
Early musical experiences
  • Age at middle of period
  • 4.5 years
  • Frequency of musical experiences
  • 5.3 (1 very rare 7 very frequent)

24
Family member whose musical activities
experienced most often
  • 49 mother
  • 31 father
  • 8 sister
  • 4 brother

Specific activity No. of entries
Playing an instrument 108
Singing at home 48
Listening to music 23
Singing choir, church ... 17
25
Early musical activities Materials
  • lullabies
  • hymns
  • traditional and folk songs
  • Christmas songs
  • Suzuki songs
  • Examples
  • Mother at piano, kids play drums sleigh bells
  • Dad made up songs about our family
  • My brother and I made up Gregorian chants

26
Early musical activities How enjoyable?
  • mean 6.3
  • (1 not at all 7 very)
  • enjoyment ? motivation ? practice

27
Early musical activities Specific emotions
  • Music as
  • private experience
  • It was amazing to produce sounds.
  • Music always gave me an immediate feeling of
    exhilaration.
  • part of intensive personal interaction
  • Happy, closeness with family members, fun and joy
    in learning the tune and rhythm of songs
  • I could switch off from the unhappy family life
    and escape into music.
  • I enjoyed this time because I gave our family the
    'glue' that held us together.

28
Age
  • At what age do children
  • acquire basic aural skills?

29
First memory of recognizing pitch structures
  • Age mean 8.6 years (min 2, max 18)

30
Age at which specific structures recognized
Means Perform Notate Understand
Melodic intervals 9 11 12
Chord qualities 9 11 12
Chord functions 11 13 14
Close modulations 13 14 15
Distant modulations 15 15 16
Melodic inversion 15 15 16
  • Basic structures learned between 8 and 14
  • Basic structures consolidated before building on
    them

31
Role of situation
  • In what situations do children
  • acquire aural skills?

32
First year of playing
  • Situations in which learned about music
  • Conventional music lessons 64 (130)
  • Working out pieces by ear alone 24 (103)
  • Mental practice 16 (54)
  • Composing alone at instrument 16 (72)
  • Playing by ear with friends or family 16 (46)
  • Composing with friends or family 19 (9)
  • But our participants may not be representative
  • Percentage average of those who replied (In
    brackets number who replied to question)

33
First memory of recognizing pitch structures
Wide variety of situations. Examples
AP Heard mother make mistake on piano. Played by ear before starting lessons. Recognized tones while dad tuned / mother played piano.
Harmony Cried when hearing IV6 iv6. Transcribed pop progressions. Played "Smoke on water" at guitar group.
Theory Theory class in high school - ear training exercises. Correspondence course in theory and ear training.
Choir Singing back a pattern for choir auditions.
Melody Matching pitches, singing back melodies, singing in tune.
Piano Apparently played a song on piano by ear.
34
Context in which skill originally acquired
  • Wide variety of responses
  • family and outside
  • formal and informal
  • group and solo
  • instrumental and choral
  • theory and practice
  • Aural skills are learned
  • Learning is mainly active

35
Musical styles in which structures recognized
  • Rank order
  • classical
  • childrens
  • pop/rock
  • religious

? Participant bias towards classical music
36
Learning styles
  • Active or passive?
  • Motivated or just happened?

37
Most important factor in developing this skill
Category N82 Examples
active music making 28 sightsinging, solfege, tuning instrument starting to play at an early age regularity, persistence, hard work teaching myself experimenting with instrument
listening to music 16 learning how to listen active or intense listening hearing music in many different contexts
? Role of active learning
38
Why motivated to acquire this skill?
Category N96 Examples
learning goal 27 to learn specific songs to sing on the correct pitch to do well in music courses, be a better performer to learn music quickly, understand music, compose to sing or play like a specific performer
joy, fun 21 I loved it it was fun, like a game
no special intention 20 I wasnt motivated, it just sort of happened a consequence of joining the school choir it was just what we did it was family
useful-ness 14 reading music took too much time and effort hearing melody helped me hear bass and chords important to make low brass section sound good
? Role of relevant, useful goals
39
Inherited or learned?
  • Questions about origins of skills
  • All answers involved musical activities
  • No-one objected that skills were inborn
  • How important were your early musical activities
    for the development of your aural abilities?
  • 5.8 (1 not at all 7 very)
  • ? Participants believe skills are learned

40
Inherited or learned
Inherited Learned
Opinion then 44 56
Opinion now 39 61
  • Source of info for opinion then
  • 46 compare memory with current knowledge
  • 18 parents then
  • 15 peer comparison then

Real learning belief in talent
41
Interesting but unreliable data
  • Metacognition is weak
  • Even for the most talented
  • Memory is unreliable
  • Respondents may invent or exaggerate
  • Our participants are biased toward
  • upper middle class
  • classical music

42
Consistent with expertise model
  • motivation ? practice ? skill
  • Critical periods?

phase age
exposure 3-7
experimentation 7-10
recognition 9-14
43
Interdependence of musical subskills
  • Musicality as
  • independent specific skills
  • Central role of audiation
  • supports other subskills

44
Educational implications Home
  • Parents should
  • hear, make, enjoy music themselves
  • own and play several instruments
  • encourage child from an early age (6?) to
  • hear, make, enjoy a lot of music
  • experience keyboard and choral singing
  • take music lessons
  • develop own musical tastes and passions

45
Educational implications Institutional
  • Offer parental training incl. music
  • More music in school
  • Musical interaction teachers?parents
  • Ear training at school, not university
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