Smith, Janice

Music Compositions of Upper Elementary Students Created Under Various Conditions of Structure
The main purpose of this study was to examine the effects of researcher-imposed structure on the compositional products and processes of elementary school children. The subjects were 12 fourth-grade recorder students. Each subject completed six composition tasks. All composition sessions were videotaped. The students watched a videotape of themselves and talked about what they were doing and thinking as they composed (stimulated recall).

Each composition was recorded on a cassette tape. The tapes were given to four musicians who were asked to follow a Q sorting procedure to place the compositions in a rank order of overall recorder musicality. The rankings by judge were correlated with the task, the children’s scores on the Intermediate Measures of Music Audiation, Iowa Tests of Music Literacy, Maine Educational Assessment, and other formal music training. The videotapes of the children composing were coded. The total length of time spent on each task and the percentage of the total time spent by the child for each task was compared with the type of task.

The results suggest there is a relationship between the type of task the children were doing and the duality of the resulting compositional products. Pieces with the least amount of researcher-imposed task structure often were lowest ranked. The poem task led to compositions of better quality. Higher test scores did not result in higher rated compositions under any of the conditions of researcher-imposed task structure except for tonal audiation and tonal literacy scores, which correlated with the unstructured pieces that were done at the end. Previous instrumental skill and previous choral training had negligible impact on product quality.

The amount of time children spent on each of the tasks was not significantly different and was not a factor in creating works of higher quality. Three styles of composing suggested themselves from the data analysis: auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Students who exemplified the kinesthetic style produced pieces with higher rankings.

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