Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Patterns of musical development : a study of children's composing and compositions
    Mason, Gregory Ronald ( 1995)
    The study aimed to investigate the nature of musical development for preschool and primary aged children. In the domain of music education, many developmental perspectives currently influence teaching theory and practice. These range from notions of development as orderly, sequential and similar for each child, to those conceptions of development characterised by the individual differences of children. The present study set out to review such theories through the observation and analysis of the musical composition procedures and products of twenty seven children, aged between three and eleven years, and drawn from three different educational and musical contexts. In addition, the researcher aimed to identify those factors which could be considered significant for musical development. As the project developed, broad developmental patterns were identified. Development appears to be dominated by a singular, dramatic advance at around six and seven years of age where developing self consciousness and intentional behaviour, together with an accumulated body of basic musical skills and understanding, enable basic musical engagement. Prior to this period musical engagement appears to be subservient to the predominantly egocentric perspective of children. Subsequent to seven years of age, development was observed to become increasingly individual and inconsistent. Factors emerging as significant concern, the impact of developing self-world relations on music making, the increasing tendency, with development, to utilise conscious modes of cognition with the relative neglect of intuitive modes of operation, and, finally, evidence provided by a sample of musically naive students, points to the importance of indirect and informal musical experience for the development of musical ability, suggesting the need for educators to look beyond formal instructional methods if students are to achieve optimal musical development.