Younker, Betty Anne

Thought Processes and Strategies of Eight, Eleven, and Fourteen-Year-Old Students While Engaged in Music Composition
The purpose of the study was to explore thought processes and strategies of three 8-, three 11-, and three 14-year-old students that occurred while composing with technology. In this descriptive study, the following data were analyzed: (1) students’ thoughts, responses, and behaviors that occurred during three composing sessions; (2) students’ verbal responses to questions, given after each composing session, about their composing activities; and (3) students’ verbal responses to questions, given before and after all composing sessions, about composing in general. The findings from the above three analyses were examined to discern what developmental patterns, if any, emerged across ages.
Nine students were involved in seven 1-hour sessions. In two age-specific information sessions, students were introduced to a software program. In the third session, each student met individually to review what was covered during the information sessions and was asked questions about composing in general. In sessions four, five, and six, each student was asked to compose, think aloud while composing, and respond to questions via an unstructured interview technique. Each session ended with the student responding to questions about the composing activities. In the seventh session, the students presented their compositions to each other.
Analysis of data for research question 1 revealed nine themes: elements of music, concepts, expressive gestures, composing processes, incorporation of known material, non-composing processes, technological problems, outlier verbal reports, and outside influences. Analysis of data for research question 2 generated five categories: awareness of activities, ability to recall activities, occurrence of mental activities between sessions, ability to recall interaction with musical elements, and range of evaluative comments. For research question 3, data were organized around: changes in content of specific responses, relationships between descriptions and experiences, descriptions of beginning composing activities, movement from third to first person, and perceptions about composing and listening. Developmentally, patterns emerged in the composing behaviors and in the treatment of timbre, beat, melody, and harmony.

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