Tania Lisboa


2 Developing and Testing a Questionnaire of Music Memorization and Practice

Authors: Tania Lisboa, Diana Santiago, Sophie Lee, Alexander P. Demos, Monica C. S. Vasconcelos


Memorization has long been recognized as an arduous and anxiety-evoking task for musicians, and yet, it is an essential aspect of performance. Research shows that musicians are often not taught how to memorize. While memorization and practice strategies of professionals have been studied, little research has been done to examine how student musicians learn to practice and memorize music in different cultural settings. We present the process of developing and testing a questionnaire of music memorization and musical practice for student musicians in the UK and Brazil. A survey was developed for a cross-cultural research project aiming at examining how young orchestral musicians (aged 7–18 years) in different learning environments and cultures engage in instrumental practice and memorization. The questionnaire development included members of a UK/US/Brazil research team of music educators and performance science researchers. A pool of items was developed for each aspect of practice and memorization identified, based on literature, personal experiences, and adapted from existing questionnaires. Item development took the varying levels of cognitive and social development of the target populations into consideration. It also considered the diverse target learning environments. Items were initially grouped in accordance with a single underlying construct/behavior. The questionnaire comprised three sections: a demographics section, a section on practice (containing 29 items), and a section on memorization (containing 40 items). Next, the response process was considered and a 5-point Likert scale ranging from ‘always’ to ‘never’ with a verbal label and an image assigned to each response option was selected, following effective questionnaire design for children and youths. Finally, a pilot study was conducted with young orchestral musicians from diverse learning environments in Brazil and the United Kingdom. Data collection took place in either one-to-one or group settings to facilitate the participants. Cognitive interviews were utilized to establish response process validity by confirming the readability and accurate comprehension of the questionnaire items or highlighting the need for item revision. Internal reliability was investigated by measuring the consistency of the item groups using the statistical test Cronbach’s alpha. The pilot study successfully relied on the questionnaire to generate data about the engagement of young musicians of different levels and instruments, across different learning and cultural environments, in instrumental practice and memorization. Interaction analysis of the cognitive interviews undertaken with these participants, however, exposed the fact that certain items, and the response scale, could be interpreted in multiple ways. The questionnaire text was, therefore, revised accordingly. The low Cronbach’s Alpha scores of many item groups indicated another issue with the original questionnaire: its low level of internal reliability. Several reasons for each poor reliability can be suggested, including the issues with item interpretation revealed through interaction analysis of the cognitive interviews, the small number of participants (34), and the elusive nature of the construct in question. The revised questionnaire measures 78 specific behaviors or opinions. It can be seen to provide an efficient means of gathering information about the engagement of young musicians in practice and memorization on a large scale.

Keywords: Practice, Cross-cultural, questionnaire, memorization, young musicians

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1 Ideas for Musical Activities and Games in the Early Year (IMAGINE-Autism): A Case Study Approach

Authors: Tania Lisboa, Angela Voyajolu, Adam Ockelford


The positive impact of music on the development of children with autism is widely acknowledged: music offers a unique channel for communication, wellbeing and self-regulation, as well as access to culture and a means of creative engagement. Yet, no coherent program exists for parents, carers and teachers to follow with their children in the early years, when the need for interventions is often most acute. Hence, research and the development of resources is urgently required. Autism is a project with children on the autism spectrum. The project aims at promoting the participants’ engagement with music through involvement in specially-designed musical activities with parents and carers. The main goal of the research is to verify the effectiveness of newly designed resources and strategies, which are based on the Sounds of Intent in the Early Years (SoI-EY) framework of musical development. This is a pilot study, comprising case studies of five children with autism in the early years. The data comprises semi-structured interviews, observations of videos, and feedback from parents on resources. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was chosen to analyze the interviews. The video data was coded in relation to the SoI-EY framework. The feedback from parents was used to evaluate the resources (i.e. musical activity cards). The participants’ wider development was also assessed through selected elements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), a national assessment framework used in England: specifically, communication, language and social-emotional development. Five families of children on the autism spectrum (aged between 4-8 years) participated in the pilot. The research team visited each family 4 times over a 3-month period, during which the children were observed, and musical activities were suggested based on the child’s assessed level of musical development. Parents then trialed the activities, providing feedback and gathering further video observations of their child’s musical engagement between visits. The results of one case study will be featured in this paper, in which the evidence suggests that specifically tailored musical activity may promote communication and social engagement for a child with language difficulties on the autism spectrum. The resources were appropriate for the children’s involvement in musical activities. Findings suggest that non-specialist musical engagement with family and carers can be a powerful means to foster communication. The case study featured in this paper illustrates this with a child of limited verbal ability. There is a need for further research and development of resources that can be made available to all those working with children on the autism spectrum.

Keywords: Music Education, Development, autism, resources

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