Creating musical futures in Australian schools and communities

Year: 2013

Author: McPherson, Gary, Davidson, Jane, Osborne, Margaret, Barrett, Margaret, Faulkner, Robert

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This ARC Discovery Project (2010-2013) aims to provide empirical data which will refine theory and plan for better practice to help create more meaningful musical futures in Australian schools and communities. A series of interconnecting studies have been conducted in order to document:• young people's personal beliefs and everyday life experiences with music and their motivational profiles toward learning music, with other non-musical life experiences and aspects of their learning; • the developmental assets, both personal and social, that are acquired from learning music and that have positive consequences for music learners' emotional wellbeing and social development;• the family, peer group, teacher/tutor and other personal and social dynamics in order to understand more precisely the factors that facilitate or hinder music learning; and• the main enabling conditions and factors of scholastic and extra-curricular musical contexts that are sufficient for personal commitment to, engagement with, and flourishing in, music related learning opportunities.
The data for this project was collected in two phases: 1. a survey study of 3,301 students in Grades 5-12 from 17 schools in Victoria and NSW in which they indicated their beliefs about seven subjects: English, maths, science, history, PE/Heath, art, and music according to the role and function of each subject and how it might equip them after they leave school; their beliefs and judgments about their capabilities to learn each school subject; the reasons why they choose to engage in and devote effort to each school subject; and expectancies about and valuing of each school subject.2. a 12-month longitudinal study which profiles approximately 150 students across four music learning contexts using computerised assessments of literacy and numeracy, socio-emotional development, accompanied by interviews regarding their motivation to learn and perform music. Interviews were also held with parents regarding their own, and their child's motivation to learn music, and teachers on their background and goals in teaching music.
A summary of findings will be presented through quantitative analyses and case-study vignettes. The significance of these findings in relation to previous seminal work conducted by McPherson and Davidson in their 14-year longitudinal study of Australian music instrument learners (ARC DP0770257) will be elaborated on in order to help establish the conditions that are necessary and sufficient for the development of an interest in and support for music learning.