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Can you think a little louder?: a classroom-based ethnography of eight and nine year olds composing with music and language

The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate the processes in which eight and
nine year old children engaged as they composed generative expressions with music and
language. This study was a classroom-based ethnography conducted by a teacher/researcher
in the context of her own general music classroom and the home room of the participant
students. Twenty-one boys and girls in a suburban grade three class were involved in this four
and one-half month study; three children were chosen as target (focus) composers.
This study was designed so that the primary voice and point of view was that of the
student-composers rather than that of the adult teacher/researcher. To that end, methodologies
for data collection and interpretation were flexible and emergent, to allow for inclusion of
unexpected events, interactions, foci/directions, etc. and to ensure that student-composers'
self-described decisions about their work were at the forefront of the discussion and
interpretation of the data.
A framework was devised to inform and clarify the teacher/researcher's understanding of
what the children were doing as they composed. This framework provided a flexible
structure for organization and illustration of data used for interpretive purposes.
Data collected included:
1) journals, written self evaluations and in-process verbal critiques by all students
2) video-tapes of focus composers in:
a) working sessions
b) reflective discussion with the teacher/researcher
3) video-tapes of all students in:
a) in-process sharing/critiquing sessions
b) final performances of compositions
4) field notes of the teacher/researcher, including observations, informal conversations
with student-composers, and observations and comments of the home room teacher.
Findings from this study included these insights:
1) For these child-composers, process and product were intertwined throughout the
making of their compositions;
2) These child-composers began with a holistic idea of what they wanted to do and
proceeded to explore, revise and polish their compositions in the particular medium
until they reached their self-determined goal;
3) Socio-cultural factors of informal (enculturated or acquired) learning, and general
maturity, were primary influences in decision-making in compositions with both
music and language;
4) Training made a difference in the baseline starting point in composing ability,
attitude, speed of the compositional process, and expectations for the final product;
5) These eight and nine year old children, untrained in music, demonstrated that they
could compose rather than just improvise;
6) These child-composers went through the same four processes of exploration, making
choices, editing/drafting, and completing a coherent product, when composing in two
different modalities; they engaged in these processes recursively as well as
sequentially in both media.
Date05 1900
CreatorsFreed Carlin, Joi Lynn
Source SetsLibrary and Archives Canada ETDs Repository / Centre d'archives des thèses électroniques de Bibliothèque et Archives Canada
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation
RelationUBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project []

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