The role of music aptitude, fine motor skills, coding ability, behavioral characteristics and academic achievement in predicting achievement in instrumental music

Michael Stancarone, Pace University

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to investigate the efficacy of selecting students for participation in string instrument instruction based on their performance on three categories (sets) of variables, i.e., aptitudes, behavioral/attitudinal characteristics and academic achievement.^ The 114 participants, from three public elementary schools, were string players who had from one to four years experience playing their instruments (violin, viola, cello). The aptitudes measured skills that were directly related to playing a musical instrument. This set consisted of a music aptitude test (Measures of Musical Abilities), a visual-motor test (Coding, from the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children), and four fine motor tests (Fist/Edge/Palm, Placing Pennies in Box with Preferred Hand, Tapping Board and Finger Tapper). A second set of predictors consisted of the Motivational Characteristics subscale, from Scales for Rating the Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students, and a report card grade of conduct. The third set consisted of a standardized academic achievement test (SRA) and a report card grade of academic achievement.^ The results of correlating these 10 predictors with string playing ability were that the academic achievement test and music aptitude predicted best (r =.47 and r =.46 respectively). Of the three sets, the aptitude set predicted best (R =.59). The combination of the aptitude and academic sets yielded the highest overall prediction (R =.67). The behavioral/attitudinal set made no contribution to the prediction. The most parsimonious set (music aptitude, Coding, Finger Tapper, achievement test, report grade of achievement) predicted as well as the 10 variables combined. This set improved prediction 76% when compared to the informal criteria in use in the schools prior to this study. Cross-validation procedures suggest that the results may be generalizable to other samples.^ The value of this research is in the improved selection of students for the study of a string instrument. When the selection process is based on those characteristics that enable a student to sustain musical growth--and thus sustain commitment and motivation--then that process is likely to be objective and equitable. ^

Subject Area

Music|Education, Music|Education, Educational Psychology|Psychology, General

Recommended Citation

Michael Stancarone, "The role of music aptitude, fine motor skills, coding ability, behavioral characteristics and academic achievement in predicting achievement in instrumental music" (January 1, 1992). ETD Collection for Pace University. Paper AAI9219141.
http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/dissertations/AAI9219141

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