Relationship between creative behavior in music and selected variables as measured in high school students

Webster, P. R. (1979). Relationship between creative behavior in music and selected variables as measured in high school students. Journal of Research in Music Education, 27(4), 227-242

Abstract:

This study is concerned with measurement of music creativity, specifically the subcategories of music composition, music analysis, and music improvisation ability. Study participants consisted of 77 high school students from three schools who were involved in school music groups, but lacked formal music training. In order to determine the measures that relate to music creativity, researchers assessed students’ creative abilities, music achievement, and aptitude through a series of tasks and activities related to music creation and a battery of tests consisting of the Torrance Tests (1974), subtests from the Colwell Music Achievement Tests (1970) and subtests from the Gordon Musical Attitude Profile (1965). The researcher also administered background questionnaires to students, and reviewed their academic records. All information and scores were compiled so that the researchers could conduct univariate and multivariate statistical analyses. Findings revealed that students with high music achievement scores tended to score highly on all areas of music creativity. Figural creativity evidenced a relationship with both improvisation and analysis. Grade, age, and performance medium were found to be unrelated to music creativity while IQ scores and gender evidenced a relationship with improvisation only. Fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration scores within a particular area of music creativity were found to be highly related.

Key Findings:

Students with high music achievement scores typically also had high scores on all three measures of music creativity. In particular, instrumental recognition was found to be important for improvisation, auditory-visual discrimination for composition, and pitch recognition for analysis. Figural creativity evidenced a relationship with both improvisation and analysis. Grade, age, or performance medium was not found to be related to music creativity. IQ scores and gender evidenced relationships with improvisation, but not to any other measures of creativity. In general, fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration scores within a particular area of music creativity were found to be highly related to each other.

Significance of the Findings:

Music achievement, specifically auditory-visual discrimination, aural recognition, and the ability to conceptualize figures in a creative way appears to play a role in the music creative ability of high school students. Students gifted in one area of a creative domain (e.g., musical improvisation flexibility) may also excel in other areas on that domain.

Methodology:

Seventy-seven high school students from three diverse Rochester, New York high schools, all of whom were involved in a performance ensemble but lacked systematic musical training, participated in this study. During the first week of research, the Torrance Tests (1974) were administered to students to assess their creative ability. Also, subtests from the Colwell Music Achievement Tests (1970) in auditory-visual discrimination and melody, pitch, and instrument recognition and the Gordon Musical Attitude Profile (1965) in tonal imagery were given to students to determine their levels of music achievement and music aptitude, respectively. Researchers also administered questionnaires and examined academic records to determine each student’s performance medium, piano lesson background, and demographic information.

In the second week of the study, students completed activities in each of the three modes of music creative expression: performance, analysis, and composition, Students first completed an improvisation activity during which they responded to rhythmic and melodic stimuli, improvised on the tune “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” and composed an original piece that integrated “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” This activity was recorded. During the composition activity participants were instructed to create a short musical piece for a triangle and another instrument and to elaborate and extend this piece. During the analysis activity, participants were asked to make observations about different pieces of music and to compare pieces of music. These two assessments were taken home and brought back. All information and scores were subsequently compiled into a database so that researchers could conduct various univariate and multivariate statistical analyses.

Limitations of the Research:

Because this research study examined correlations among preexisting variables, it is not possible to make any causal inferences.

Questions to Guide New Research:

Researchers could consider other factors that may relate to music creativity development, such as interest (or lack of interest) in a particular task. It may also be interesting to consider possible transference of creativity from one area to another. Future studies should seek to replicate this research with diverse student populations and in other art forms.