Academic journal article Research and Issues in Music Education (RIME)

Achievement Motivation and the Adolescent Musician: A Synthesis of the Literature

Academic journal article Research and Issues in Music Education (RIME)

Achievement Motivation and the Adolescent Musician: A Synthesis of the Literature

Article excerpt


Julie, a 13-year old flute player, began playing her flute in the fifth-grade band at her public middle school three years ago. Today, Julie sat in her chair reflecting upon how she had gotten to this point. Back in fifth grade, Julie's main impetus for joining band was for social reasons. Her brother had played the trombone and, according to her parents, was quite good at it. Moreover, Julie's best friend, Sarah, had chosen to play the flute, so it just made sense at the time for Julie to play the same instrument and sit by her friend in band. Last year, Julie had performed at her regional junior high school solo festival and received a top rating. She had worked hard for months knowing that the competition was going to be fierce (or so her brother and peers in a higher grade had alleged). A low rating would make her look foolish in front of Sarah and her band director; Julie did not want to disappoint either.

On this day, sitting first chair in the statewide honors band, Julie was glad that she had persisted in instrumental music. She was thankful that she had found that little "spark" that had made her want to improve her skills on the flute for her own benefit. Julie loved listening to professional musicians on her portable music device; she even created her own recordings by playing her favorite musical works on her flute so that she could take her performances with her wherever she went. Julie wondered just how much more she would learn on her instrument and imagined that if she worked hard--even though there would be minor challenges to overcome--someday she could play just as well as the professional flute soloist performing in front of the honors band right now.

Motivation is the foundation for human achievement. A psychological construct, "motivation is considered both a catalyst for learning and an outcome of learning" (Hurley, 1993, p. 17). Without motivation little can be achieved, but with the appropriate inspiration, substantial growth may occur. A study by Cattel, Barton, and Dielman (1972) noted that nearly 25% of student achievement might be attributed to motivational elements. Asmus (1994) suggested that estimates of student achievement that were due to motivation ranged from 11 to 27 percent in the literature. Experienced educators may believe that this percentage is even higher yet.

Motivation takes many different forms and is, in many ways, unique to each person. Ormrod (2004) defined one motivational construct--achievement motivation--as "the need for excellence for its own sake, without regard for any external rewards that one's accomplishments might bring" (p. 438). One of the first writings on achievement motivation was by Murray (1938) who considered achievement motivation to be based upon three fundamental conditions: (a) a need for achievement, (b) an approach motive, and (c) infavoidance (the avoidance motive). While the terminology has evolved over the past 70 years, the basic premises set forth by Murray continue to be maintained. This review of literature will consider the achievement motivation paradigm in regard to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, mastery goals, and performance goals, as well as other motivational concepts germane to the classroom of the adolescent musician.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

A basic underpinning of motivational theory, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are two key terms directly relating to the internal or external nature of a person's motivation. Intrinsic motivation may be viewed as being derived from within the individual or task, while extrinsic motivation may result when the source of motivation occurs from outside the individual or task (Ormrod, 2004). Whereas intrinsic motivation may be the performance of a piece of music for the benefit of musical growth or the experience of performing with other capable musicians, extrinsic motivation could be viewed as the performance of the same piece of music for audience approval or a competitive rating. …

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