Music, learning, motivation, and achievement in the lives of children and adolescents over 10 years

Paul Evans

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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Music is important in the lives of adolescents, and musical skills are highly regarded. However, most people, particularly in Western society, emerge into adulthood with mediocre skills, despite having a mandatory school music education provided to them, and, in many cases, several years of informal learning. Why is it that some people are able to persist through difficult, boring practice and acquire impressive and rewarding musical skills, while others do not, but wish they had? This thesis examines some of the major explanations for sustained motivation in music, as well as providing empirical foundations for a theoretical framework based in self-determination theory. The studies took advantage of an opportunity that arose to examine participants involved in a previous 3-year longitudinal study, to find out about their music learning experiences and motivation over a ten-year period. The approach to the study was pragmatic, taking data that had previously been gathered, studying the potential to explain music education further, and developing research questions according to the kind of data that could be gathered from the sample. Results supported some of the previous findings in the study, namely that commitment and practice are key ingredients for ongoing success in music learning. The study also found that greater feelings of fulfilling three basic psychological needs—competence, relatedness, and autonomy—appeared to result in ongoing motivation, while participants who ceased experienced less of these feelings and more of the feelings being thwarted around the time they ceased learning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2011


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