Academic journal article Contributions to Music Education

Observations of and Perspectives on Musical Enjoyment in the Preschool Classroom

Academic journal article Contributions to Music Education

Observations of and Perspectives on Musical Enjoyment in the Preschool Classroom

Article excerpt

Introduction

Enjoyment has long been considered an important aspect of education for all students. Choosing activities that students find enjoyable has been shown to play an important role in building intrinsic motivation (Raynor, 1983); developing a sense of mastery and self-efficacy (Eccles, 1983; Stajkovic & Luthans, 2003); and aiding in meeting objectives (Murphy & Brown, 1986). In music education literature, the term "enjoyment" is often not explicitly used and rarely defined. Instead, researchers have discussed "positive attitudes," "preferences," or "liking" of specific activities (Andang'o, 2009; Bowles, 1998; Denac, 2008; Murphy & Brown, 1986; Temmerman, 2000). Until recently, enjoyment in music education has appeared in literature as an emergent theme rather than the initial intent of the research (Koops & Keppen, 2015); few studies have investigated the characteristics of this emotional state and the direct impact of musical enjoyment on other factors in the classroom (Andang'o, 2009; Hallam, 2010; Koops, 2017; Mantzicopoulos, Patrick, & Samarapungavan, 2008; Niland, 2009; Sacha & Russ, 2006). Gaining insight into how preschool children demonstrate enjoyment, how teachers perceive students' enjoyment, and how enjoyment, learning, and music interact could provide a more complete understanding of enjoyment. This understanding, in turn, may inform considerations for lesson planning and curriculum development.

Researchers have often used the term "preference" to gain an understanding of what activities young children enjoy in the music classroom, providing a basis for the current study (Bowles, 1998; Denac, 2008; Murphy & Brown, 1986; Temmerman, 2000). For example, Bowles (1998) surveyed students in kindergarten through fifth grade regarding their interest in various music classroom activities. Within and across all grade levels, the students reported playing instruments as their most preferred activity. Two studies specifically examined the musical preferences of the preschool age group. The children in Temmerman's (2000) study reported enjoying every musical activity that was discussed during the interviews; however, the most preferred activities were movement and playing instruments. Denac's (2008) preschool participants most enjoyed the same specific musical experiences.

How music teachers perceive student enjoyment, as well as their own preference for certain activities, may impact lesson planning and curriculum development. According to Denac (2008), teachers most enjoyed planning musical activities based on singing and, therefore, they dedicated the largest portions of their lesson plans to this form of musical involvement. The child participants in this study, however, reported they most preferred dancing and movement in school and listening to music at home. Murphy and Brown (1986) explored the musical preferences of fifth graders and their music teachers, and these researchers also found a disparity between which learning objectives the two groups most preferred. The students reported the highest preference for playing instruments, while teachers indicated a higher interest in their students' learning concepts related to music listening and more formal music theory concepts. Murphy and Brown concluded that, because students were more likely to internalize skills and feel motivated to complete activities they enjoy, teachers may want to consider the preferred activities of students and include these activities with more challenging skills.

Along with increased skill development, enjoyment may also lead to increased self-efficacy. Self-efficacy, from Bandura's (1986) social cognitive theory, is one's belief that they can successfully complete a certain task. Students with strong self-efficacy may be more willing to participate in difficult or challenging tasks (Zimmerman, 2000); self-efficacy may be enhanced when students enjoy an activity (Campbell, Connell, & Beegle, 2007; Green, 2008; Koops, 2017; Suthers & Niland, 2007). …

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