UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Study of the effects of a specially designed listening program in contemporary art music upon the expressed musical preferences of grade seven students. Bradley, Ian Leonard


This study was an investigation of the hypothesis that a prescribed program utilizing significant representative contemporary art music can be designed, developed, and taught to grade seven students that will positively influence their expressed musical preferences towards this music. Such an analytical listening program was developed utilizing four types of contemporary art music--tonal, polytonal, atonal, and electronic—and was taught to fourteen randomly selected grade seven music classes designated as Experimental treatment I (E 1) for a period of fourteen weeks. For comparison, a second Experimental treatment (E 2) was given to another random set of grade seven classes, whose treatment was limited to repetition without formal instruction. Both treatments were compared against a control condition (C)—a music program that excluded exposure to contemporary art music—administered to a third random group of grade seven classes. All groups were pre-tested with a test of music knowledge and with an instrument constructed to obtain evidence about students' expressed preferences for each of the four categories of music. The latter contained not only "study" selections later used repeatedly in the E 1 and E 2 training programs, but also selections that were not used as instructional material ("transfer" selections). The same instrument was also administered as a post-test. The stability of the instrument with students excluded from music instruction over the experimental period was indicated by test-retest reliability coefficients ranging from .75 to .93 for both "study" and "transfer" selections, and averaging .88. Highly significant gains in preference scores were found for the E 1 (analytical listening) treatment, on both "study" and "transfer" selections, though the "transfer" gains were numerically smaller. Smaller, but still highly significant gains were found for the E 2 (repeated listening) treatment, except in the case of electronic music; the mean gain on the electronic "transfer" selections was not significant. For the control group, some gains were positive and some negative, all being small and none being significant. Comparisons of the effects of the experimental and control treatments on preference gain-scores were made by a two-factor analysis of variance in which sex was the second factor. A covariance adjustment for possible differences in prior music knowledge and for differences in pre-test preference scores was made. There was little evidence of any sex effect, either alone or in interaction with treatments. However, the treatments clearly showed a hierarchy of effectiveness, with E 1 (analytical listening) being most effective, E 2 (repeated listening) significantly and obviously less effective, though still superior to the control condition for which preference gains were essentially zero. Minor exceptions to this clear general trend are noted in Chapter VI. The correlation between music knowledge scores and the gains in preference scores proved to be too low to be significant at the .05 level. Conclusions: (1) The results of the E 1 program indicated that grade seven students can develop stronger preferences for contemporary art music through analytical listening procedures. Moreover, a particular sequence of cognitive learning experiences also resulted in affective transfer. (2) The E 2 results supported the view that repetitive listening is an important factor in the formation of positive preferences. (3) As the sex variable accounted for little variance in preferential responses, it is unlikely that boys and girls require either different materials or methods while engaged in classroom listening activities. (4) As no correlation was discovered between music knowledge and musical preferences, it appears that listening activities may be conducted in the classroom without adverse effects despite the fact that theoretical knowledge may be minimal. One major implication as a result of the study was the suggestion and recommendation that music educators be prepared to re-appraise music courses in their present format, for it is possible that the emphasis placed on theory, reading skills, singing, and instrumental performance may not be completely justified. An alternative program that would place listening at the core of musical activities and from this centrality relate and integrate all other theoretical and performance objectives was also recommended for further research. Finally, it was recommended that the present work be expanded into longitudinal research to further identify factors that are important in the development of positive musical preferences for contemporary art music.

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