Perceptual and Affective Components of the Music Listening Experience as Manifested in Children’s Verbal, Visual, and Kinesthetic Representations
The purpose of this study was to learn more about the cognitive processes of second- and fifth-grade children as they listen to musical examples. These processes were examined as they were manifested in the students’ verbal, visual, and kinesthetic representations of a music listening example that they heard repeatedly. Children’s responses were compared at the individual and group level of analysis in relation to their grade and amount of music performance training.
Following an initial synthesis listening, students provided concurrent verbal reports. During the third and fourth listenings, they created a drawn map of their music listening experience. During the final listening, students created movements which described the same musical excerpt. The entire procedure was repeated during a second week of interviewing.
After the main study phase, four of the children were chosen to participate in extended interview sessions. The main study procedure was repeated, except that the children listened to a different musical excerpt. This phase was conducted in order to confirm the trustworthiness of my findings.
Eight response clusters emerged from the children’s verbal, visual, and kinesthetic responses: perceptual, affective, thought processes, association, prior musical experience, task response, teacher-student interaction, and effect of repeated listening. Perceptual information pervaded the children’s responses. Most children used referential associations in their descriptions. The associations frequently showed evidence of being related to the children’s perception of or reaction to musical events.
Repleteness of the children’s responses was a function of the children’s preference for representation in a response mode. The visual mode of response was preferred by most children, while the kinesthetic task was generally the least preferred. Each response mode facilitated the depiction of information that was not necessarily contained in the other modes. Children’s responses became more detailed as they repeatedly listened to the musical excerpt. Their responses also provided clues about their style of thinking.
Differences in the listening and reporting process emerged according to the children’s grade and music training. Among the findings was that older children and children with music training provided more differentiated and diverse responses.