UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A study of the effect of a specially designed program upon the expressed musical preferences of a selected grade three class for contemporary music Colby, James F.


This study was undertaken to determine whether or not young childrens’ preferences for contemporary art music, through participation in a classroom music program emphasizing creativity, can be altered. The students participating in this experiment were the grade three class at Vancouver College, a private boys school in Vancouver, B.C., where the researcher was employed as music instructor for the 1969-70 school term. A music preference inventory was given to the students prior to initiating the classroom program. The inventory consisted of the following eight selections chosen by the researcher as representative of various twentieth century compositional styles: "Ionisation" - Edgar Varèse; "Akrata" - Iannis Xenakis; "Gesang der Jünglinge" - Karlheinz Stockhausen; "Visage" - Luciano Berio; "Le Marteau sans Maȋtre" - Pierre Boulez; "Piece for Four Pianos" - Morton Feldman; "Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op.16" - Arnold Schoenberg; and, "Cantata No. 1, Op.29" - Anton Webern. Students marked their preference on a graphic rating scale of five divisions. The researcher later superimposed a twelve-point scale over the test-scale, in interpreting the scores. Following this pre-test, the students participated in a twelve-week classroom music program which stressed rhythmic improvisation, composition in twelve-tone technique, percussion pieces, exploration of sound sources, etc. The program was designed by the researcher based on work by Carl Orff, Zoltan Kodaly, R. Murray Schafer, Peter Maxwell Davies, Richard Addison and George Self. At the end of the program the same preference inventory was again administered to the students as a post-test. Final scores were interpreted by means of a two-tail test. Only one selection showed a change in preference (in this case, an increase) at a statistically significant level of five per cent. Stockhausen's "Gesang der Jünglinge" attained a critical ratio of 5.34. Certain limitations were recognized: 1) the small sampling of students (twenty-two); 2) the relatively short duration of the experimental part of the study (twelve weeks), and 3) the lack of any control group. The researcher therefore concluded that, within the severe limitations of this study, his hypothesis was invalid: that participation in a classroom music program stressing creativity will alter a grade three student's preference for contemporary art music.

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