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A study of the musical preferences, interests, and activities of parents as factors in their attitude toward the musical education of their children Sandvoss, Joachim

Abstract

The sociological and psychological literature reveals that the parents and the home may be the most important determinants in the development of interests and attitudes in the life of the child. Research in music education has contributed very little to show the effect of environmental conditions, such as different patterns of home life, on music education in the schools. Researchers in music education have, however, revealed the need to study the musical home background of the child. This study investigated the musical behaviour of parents from three subcultures, urban, suburban, and rural-farm, and tested the attitude parents have toward the musical education of their children. A questionnaire was constructed to gather the data in a face-to-face situation. There were 133 subjects in the sample. The method of paired comparisons was employed to measure the respondents' musical preferences toward six types of music. A Likert-type attitude scale was constructed to test parental attitudes toward a musical education for children. The questionnaire was tested for reliability and validity and considered adequate. These general conclusions were reached. No large or consistent differences were found between the urban, suburban, and rural-farm groups of parents with regard to their musical interests, activities, and preferences, as well as their attitude toward a musical education for children. However, some differences emerged. The mothers from the three areas seem to attach more importance to musical activities such as attending concerts or playing a musical instrument than do fathers. The analysis of the data showed that the relative preference for Folk Music versus Light Classical Music seems to differentiate the three groups, of parents. Rural-farm parents seem to prefer Folk Music more than Light Classical Music, whereas urban and suburban parents seem to prefer Folk Music less than Light Classical Music. The attitude test revealed another significant difference. Suburban mothers seem to differ from suburban fathers in their mean attitude toward a musical education for children. The mean attitude of suburban fathers appears to be lower than that of the mothers. With the exception of the noted differences, it seems that neither socio-economic position nor geographical location differentiate urban, suburban, or rural-farm parents in regard to their (1) musical interests, activities, and preferences, as well as their (2) attitude toward a musical education for children. This conclusion is, in part, not in conformance with the findings of earlier studies, which reported that musical preferences of adults appear to be very much influenced by socio-economic position and also by geographic location. The parents' reaction to the eleven statements of this study's attitude scale was such as to permit the following conclusion. It seems that a high proportion of urban, suburban , and rural-farm parents (possibly 80 to 90 per cent) have a favourable attitude toward a musical education for children. The "neutral" responses by nearly half the sample to an attitude statement about music education not receiving it’s due in our public schools suggest that many parents are unaware of what is happening in the elementary school classroom in regard to music education. Listening to music appears to be a very highly preferred leisure activity for a high proportion of urban, suburban, and rural-farm parents. Music on the radio, television musical programs, and records tend to be the most often utilized sources of listening to music, but many parents, probably 60 per cent or more, listen to music at concerts, recitals, musicals, operas, operettas, etc. either frequently or occasionally.

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