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Motivation

SUSAN A. O'NEILL & GARY E. McPHERSON

Researchon motivation in music seeksto understandhow chiÌ- dren develop the desireto pursue the study of a musicaì instru- ment,how they cometo valuelearningto play an instrument,why they vary in the degreeof persistenceand the intensity they dis- play in achievingtheir musical goals,and how they evaÌuateand attributetheir successandfailurein differentachievementcontexts. Currenttheoriesview motivationasanintegralpart of Ìearningthat assistsstudentsin acquiring the rangeof adaptivebehaviorsthat will provide them with the best chance of achieving their own personalgoals.We review the literature on thesetopics and pro- vide a frameworkfor understandingthe complexrangeof thoughts, feelings,and actions that either sustain or hinder musicians through the many yearsthat it takesto develop musicaì skilÌs.

Why do somechiìdren seekthe chaÌlengesof learning and persistin the faceof

difficulty, while others,with seemingÌyequal abiÌity and potentiaÌ,avoid chal- Ìengesand withdraw when faced with obstaclesor difficulties? Over the past 20 years,this fundamentalquestionhas underpinned an enormousbody of educational and psychologicalresearch.The findings have contributed to our understandingof motivation by clarifying what initiates a desireto pursue cer- tain goals,by explaining why certaingoalsarevalued over others,by describing how studentsvary in the degreeof persistenceand intensity they dispìay in achievingtheir own goals,and by specifyinghow children evaÌuateand attribute

causesfor their

& Schunk, 1996,for a comprehensiveoverview).An important outcomeof this researchis that motivation is no ìongervier,r'edasa distinct setof psychologicaÌ processesbut as an integral part of learning that assistsstudentsto acquirethe rangeof behaviorsthat will provide them with the bestchanceof reachingtheir fuÌl potential.

successandfailure in differentachievementcontexts (see Pintrich

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Motivation |

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For example,in Britain approximately4\o/oof 5-and 6-year-oldchilclrenexpress an interestin ledrningto pìay an instrument,but by age7 this desirehashaÌverÌ to about25%,whereit remainsconstantuntil the ageof 11,when it declinesto only4lo of nonplaying14-year-olds(Cooke & Morris,I 996).In the UnitedStates, opportunitiesto Ìearnan instmment in a schoolinstrumental programtypicaÌly becomeavailable at a time when children's interest in Ìearning music and be- Ìiefsaboutits usefulnessandimportancearerapidly declining (Eccles etaÌ,,1983, 1993).Eccìeset al. (1993) found that evenchiÌdren who have had very Ìittle experiencewith instrumentaì music appearto have just asreliabìe and differ- entiated self-beÌiefsabout their ability and the importance they place on this activity asfor activities (such asreadingand sports)with which they havecon- siderablymore experience.Not surprisingly, children who devalueinstrumen- tal instruction and considerthemselveslacking in musical abiÌity wiÌÌ be more Ìikely to engagein it for a shorttime and then stop (Wigfield etal., 1997;WigfieÌd, O'NeiÌÌ& Eccles,1999). McPherson(2000) studied133youngbeginninginstrumentalistsbetweenthe agesof sevenand nine and found that chiÌdren bring to their music instruction expectationsand valuesthat potentialÌyshapeand influencetheir subsequent development.Forexample,interviewswith thechildrenbeforetheybeganinstruc- tion show that they wereabÌeto makecÌearstatementsabouttheir valuing of and expectationsfor music Ìearningwithout a greatdeaÌof previousexperience.They could differentiate among their interest in learning a musicaÌ instrument, the importanceof being good at music, whether they beÌievedtheir learningwould be useful to their short-and Ìong-termgoals,and the costof participation,in termsof the effort neededto continue improving. For many, Ìearningan instru- ment was no different from participating in a team sport,taking up a hobby, or pursuingother recreationalactivities.Most of the chiÌdren were intrinsicaÌÌy interestedin learningan instrument but did not seeit asimportant to their long- term future careers.Otherswere lessintrinsicaÌÌy motivatedbut recognizedthe importanceor utility vaÌueof Ìearningin termsof their overalÌeducation.For themajority of children, Iearningan instrumentwassomethingusefulto do while theywerein schooÌbut of farlessvaÌuein Ìaterlife.Only a handfulviewedtheir invoÌvementassomethingthat could possibÌyleadto a future career.Evenbefore commencing,many children were alsoabÌeto providea definiteview of their own potentialcomparedto thoseof their peers. One of the more interestingfindings from the McPhersonstudy was the rela- tionship betweenthe children'scommitmentto learningtheir instrumentbe- foretheystartedÌessonsandtheirachievementnine monthslater.Studentswho predicted that they wouÌd pìay their instrument for only a few yearsprogressed the slowest,irrespectiveof the amountof practicethey did at home.Students who predictedthatthey wouìd pÌaytheir instrurnentuntil the end of their school- ing achieveclhigherperformanceÌevels,which increasedaccordingto theamount of their practiceduring the period studied.The highestachievingstudentswere thosewho expresseda Ìong-termcommitment to playing, coupÌedwith high ÌeveÌsof practice.Thesestudents,who indicatedthattheyplannedto play their instrumentfor most of their lives,were typicaÌly more inclined to expressin-

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Motivation |

35

ticetìan believingin one'sability to succeed.O'Neill foundthattheextenttowhich 60 young musiciansagedbetween12 and 16 valued their practicesessions(i.e.,

"Was

tion to your overallgoaÌs?")wasa significantpredictorof the amountof time they spentpracticing.Interestingìy,frequencyofpracticewasnot predictedby the stu- "Were

you succeedingat what

dents'beliefsabouthow competentthey were(i.e.,

you were doing?")and whetherthey were living up to their own and others'ex- pectations.Oneinterpretationis that the youngmusicianswho valuedtheir prac-

tice highÌy did so becauseit provided them with the opportunity to demonstrate

aspectsof their competence,which in turn

learningto play an instrumentandmotivatedthemto achievetheir goals.Accord- ingto EccÌesandhercoÌleagues (e,g., Eccles,1987;Eccles& HaroÌd,1992),values are Ìinked to more stablebeliefs about the characteristicsof one's overall self- conceptand senseof identity, whereascompetencebeliefsaremoreunstableand Iikely to fluctuatein differentsituationsand with the demandsof differenttasks. In addition, it is possiblethe youngmusicianswerenot interpretingthe notion of importancein the sameway (e.g.,theymay havebeenmoreor Ìessconcernedwith intrinsic or extrinsicreasonsfor doing the task),and this may havecontributedto differencesin amount of practice,It would be usefuÌif future researchexamined the extentto which seÌf-perceptionsof competenceand vaÌuesmight vary in rela- tion to different practiceactivities (e.g., formaÌ,deÌiberatepracticeversusinfor- maÌ,fun practice;easytasksversusdemandingtasks)anclhow this might relateto the amount of time spentpracticingdifferent tasks.

this practiceimportant to you?"; "How important was this practicein reÌa-

reinforcedthe vaÌue they placed on

FlowTheory:MatchingChallengeto Skill

Researchershavealsoconceptualizedmotivation in termsof the changesthattake place within the personwhen a student is actually invoÌved in learningmusic. From this perspective,researchersstudy the typesof activitiestìat studentsfind intrinsically motivatingand comparethesewith the typesof activitiesthat resuÌt in Ìessefficient learning. This is the essentialingredient of Csikszentmihalyi's (1SgO) flow theory, which suggeststhat optimal experiencerequires a balance betweenroughly equaÌlevelsofperceived challengeand skill in a situation that involvesintenseconcentration.According to this explanation,activitiesareseen

aspleasurabÌewhen the challengeis matchedto the person'sskiÌÌ leveÌs.If an activity is too easyand skill leveÌsarehigh, boredomwill develop;ifan activity is too difficult and skill levelsarelow, anxiety wilÌ resuìt;if both chaÌlengeand skilì leveÌs are Ìow, studentsfeel apathy.To remain in flow, the complexity of theactivity must increaseby deveÌopingnew skilÌsandtakingon new challenges. Fìow experienceis characterizedby the presenceof cleargoaÌsand unambigu- ousfeedback,focusedconcentration,asenseof outcomesunderthe person'sown control,a distortedsenseof time (e.g., anhour of practiceseemsto goby quickly), losing a senseof self-awareness,and experiencingthe activity as intrinsically rewarding (see also Csikszentmihaìyi,Rathunde& Whalen, 1993),

experiencesaccounted

for differencesin the amount of time spent practicing among 60 young musi-

O'Neill

(1999a) examinedthe extentto which flow

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Motivation |

37

do this becauseI'm not a goodmusician"),whereaseffort is seenasinternal,un-

stabÌe,and controlÌabÌe("If I do more practiceI'll be ableto play this piece").In addition,studentswho perceivetheir successasbeingdueto internalreasonssuch as effort are more likely to have a higher senseof seÌf-worth (seÌf-esteem)than studentswho believetheir successwas due to externalreasons,such asÌuck.

A detaiÌedreview of avaiìableevidenceby Eccleset al. (1998)showsthat

youngchildren view ability and effort ascomplementaryand arenot aÌwaysable to distinguishbetweenthesetwo constructs,but that their understandingchanges overtime. By the ageof 11 or 12,children havecometo understandthesepro- cessesmore deeplyand beginto realizethat instrumentaÌistswith Ìessability needto try harderand practicemore in order to achievesimilar resultsto those

of studentswith greaterability. The reaÌizationthat you need to do more prac- tice than someonewho showsgreaterability meansthat you will cometo view yourselfasa Ìesscapablemusician.

In music,VispoeÌand Austin (1993)found that junior high schoolstudents

who attributed the failure of a fictitious music student to insulïicient effort or poor learning strategieswere more ìikely to anticipate improved future perfor- mancethan studentswho attributed faiÌure to a lack of ability. McPhersonand McCormick(zooo)conducteda study of 349instrumentalistsbetweenthe ages of g and 1Bwho werecompletinggradedperformanceexaminations.Theresults demonstratedthat over 50% perceivedtheir performanceexaminationresult to be a consequenceof how much effort they had given to preparingfor the exami- nation or how hard they tried cluringthe examination.The maiority of students went into their examinationreportingheaÌthyattributions.If they did weÌÌ, then they couÌd attributetheir successto having preparedthoroughly.If they did poorly,then they could bìametheir resulton not havingdoneenoughprepara- tion or not trying hard enoughduring the examination. However,the findings alsoreveaÌedïhat L2.4o/oof the beginners,9.97oof the intermediate-Ìevelplayers,and19.57oof theadvancedmusiciansattributedtheir resultto eitherluck,how hardtheexammightturn outto be (i.e., taskdifficulty), or their overaÌÌ abiÌity. Other researchsuggeststhat studerrtswho beÌievethat their successor failure is a result of ability tenrÌ to approacha task differently from their peerswho associatesuccessand failure with effort and that Ìow achieversoften makemaÌadaptiveor unheÌpfuÌ attributions in comparisonwith high achievers (Arnold, 1997;Pintrich & Schunk,1996).The latterstudentsare moreÌikely to attributesuccessto Ìuck and their inability to completea tasksuc- cessfuÌÌyto such factorsas ability. They areaÌsolesslikely to feel that an in- creasein effort will haveany positive benefitsfor their developmentor capacity to achieveat a higher ÌeveÌ.

MasteryMotivation:HowConfidentDoI Feel?

Weiner's work on attribution theory heÌped pavethe way for researchfocusing on specificlearningstyles,such as the differencesbetweenadaptiveand mal- adaptivestudentmotivationalpatterns.Researchby Dweckand her colleagues

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Motivation |

39

lmplicationsforTeaching

Whatcanmusicteachersdo in orderto provide ateachingenvironmentthatmaxi- mizes student motivation? As we suggestedin the opening of this cÌrapter,one of the most important elementsiíviewing motivation as an integral part of aÌÌ teachingand learning.On the one hand, s,tudentswho lack motivation wilÌ not expend the necessaryeffort to learn. On the other hand, highly motivated stu- dentsare eagerto cometo music lessonsand learn. In a review of instructionaÌ stìategiesand achievementmotivation,Ames (1S92) examinedhow different approachesto teachingand evaluatingperformancecan influence students' motivational patternsin areassuch as intrinsic motivation, attributionsthat involve effort-basedstrategies,and active engagement.In the following section, we expìoretheseideasfurther. Basedon the researchalready discussedin the chapter,our aim is to highìight what we considerto be someof the most impor- tant dimensionsof musicteachingthatcanhelp fosterstudents'ìonfidenceand commitment.

Potential

As explained in chapter 1 by Kemp and MiÌls, one of the most wideÌy debated issuesin music is the notion of talent. Folklore woulcl haveus beÌievethat those who aretaìentedaremore Ìikely to achieveand thereforedisplay more adaptive motivation. However,this is not always the case.As discussedearlier,research has demonstratedthat someof the most skiÌÌedindividuals who dispìayhigh Ìevelsof initiaÌ competenceexhibit helpìessbehavior,which can resuÌtin fail- ure to reachtheir full potential(Dweck, 2000).Beliefsaboutability influence both the goalsstudentschooseto pursueand their achievementbehavior.Dweck (2000) distinguishesbetweentwo different self-theorybeliefs:enúifybeliefs, where ability is viewed asa fixed trait (e.g., musical talent is somethingyou are born with), and incremenÍo1beÌiefs,where aúlity is viewed as somethingmal- Ìeablethat can be increasedthrough effort. Studentswho hoÌd entitybcìiefs are more likeÌy to developan overconcernwith proving their compeÌèiìce,avoid chaÌÌenges,and show an inability to cope with failure or difficulty. One can imagine how difficult it would be to teachstrategiesfor improving a poor per- formanceto studentswho believethey simpìy do not havethe potential to do it (i.e,, "It eithercomesnaturallyor it doesn't").In contrast,studentswho possess iqcremental belipfs thrive on chaÌlengesand view performanceopportunities as providing chancesto learn new things rather than mereìy dispÌay their abil- ity. For studentswho considerperformanceachievementto be the end point of a Ìearningprocess,a poor performancecanbeviewed asa problem that needsto be solved. They are thereforemore receptiveto Ìearning new strategiesfor im- proving their performance. Stipek (1996) provides the foÌlowing strategiesto improve students'seÌf- efficacy (i.e., the beÌief that they can mastera situation and producepositive outcomes)by emphasizingincremental beliefs and masterymotivation:

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41

Enjoyment

\ Researchhasbegunto clarifyimportantmotivationaldifferenceswhenchildren

practicerepertoire assignedby their teacherrather than piecesthey have cho- senthemselves.In a study of 257 studentsdrawn from variousleveisof music training,SÌobodaandDavidson (1996) foundthathigh-achievingmusicianstend to do significantlygreateramountsof formaÌpractice,suchasscaÌes,pieces,and

technicalexercises,than their lesssuccessfulpeers.Interestingly,they arealso

likely to report more informal

ear, "messing about,"or improvising.SÌobodaandDavidsonconcludethatthese informaÌ ways of practicing contribute to musical successbecausethe highest achievingstudentsareabÌeto find the right balancebetweenfreedomand disci- pline in their practice. In adetailedcasestudyofayoungbeginningclarinettist,RenwickandMcPherson (2000)discoveredan elevenfoÌdincreasein the time spentpracticinga piecethat shechoseto learn herself,ascomparedto repertoireassignedby the teacher.In addition to this remarkabledifferencethere were aÌsomajor differencesin the quality of the girÌ's practice.When practicingthe teacher-assignedpieces,the girl almostexclusiveÌyuseda play-throughapproach,playing her piecesfrom begin-

ning to endwith littÌe attentionto correctingmistakes.With the pieceshewanted to learn herseÌf,therewas a marked increasein the way shemonitored and con- trolled herperformance,asevidencedin greateruseof silentfingering,siÌentthink- ing, singing,and more varied strategiesfor correctingwrong notes.Other usefuÌ techniquesthat teacherscan exploreto encouragestudentsto vary their practice areconcentratingon differentrepertoireon seÌecteddays,maintaininga Ìogbook to identify aspectsthat need revision and refinement,and continuaÌÌy varying habits,aÌl of which heÌp alleviatethe daily grind of practicing.

practice,such as playing their favorite piecesby

Engagement

Intrinsicmotivation is maximizedwhen studentsaregivenrepertoirethatrequires areasonableamountof effortto belearned.Repertoirethat is compÌetedwith littÌe effoit òì'ìÌratcausesconfusionor frustrationcanresult in low engagementcluring practice.StudentswiÌl bemoreinteÌlectuallyinvolved when practicingrepertoire that requireshigher order or divergentthinking and activeproblem solvingthan when practicing mundane drill and practiceexercises.Encouragingstudentsto cometo the next Ìessonwith five differentways of playing an exerciseor to de- vise a set of simiÌar exercisesto overcomea technical probÌemwill be more in- trinsiòallymotivatingthan mereÌyteÌÌingthem to practicean exerciseuntil it has beenmastered.McPhersonand McCormick (1999) showedthat a distinguishing featureof musicianswho do greateramountsof practiceis the leveÌ of their cog- nitive engagementwhile theypractice.In theirstudy,studentswho reportedhigher ìeveìsof practicetendedto be more incÌinedto rehearsemusic in their minds

(mentaÌ practice)and to makecriticaÌ

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Motivation |

43

aminationsor participationin competitionsin their instrumentor voice.How- ever,equalÌyvaÌid is the claim that not all sturlentsaresuited to this type of stressfulenvironment and that a gooã tóachórwill be perceptiveenoughto realizewhen a studentis not ready or emotionally capableof being formaÌÌy assessedand comparedwith his or her peers.

Conclusion

In this chapterwe have outÌined researchaccordingto five theoreticalpetspec- tives. First, expectancy-valuetheory informs us about ways that children can vaÌue learning an instrument, as welì as beliefs that concern what they think they might gain from their learning.Second,self-efficacyconstructsaÌlow us to understandhow confident Ìearnersfeel about their ability to perform on an in- strument,especialÌywhen facedwith a stressfulsituation suchasa public music performance.According to the third perspective,flow theory,activitiesaremore pleasurablewhen the chalÌengeof the taskand the musician'sskill areoptimally balanced.Fourth, attribution theory addressesthe different reasons"ïúri"iu., will gïvri to explain a good o. poo, performance.Fifth, mastery motivational patternstell us about what occursduring the event and how somelearners,de- spite their ability, give up when facedwith difficulties. Much work hasbeencarriedout on the role of sociaÌizingagentsin assisting studentsto maintain sufficientmotivation to practiceand achieve (chapters1 and 12 in this volume;McPherson& Davidson,in press).Indeed,thereis littÌe doubt that motivation to continue instrumental training is inextricably linked to the social and culturaÌ environment,and soit is aÌsoimportantto considerhow motivation for playing an instrumentmight be influencedby externalfactorssuchasparents and teachers.Importantasthesefactorsmay be,no amount of parentaÌsupportis likely to maÌe a child without someintrinsic interestengagein the Ìong-termef- fort requiredto succeedat evenmodestleveìsof musicalcompetence.Conse- quently,understandinghow studentsthink aboutthemseÌves,the task,and their performanceis importantif teachersareto establishand sustaina stimulatingand challenginglearning environment.Studentsneed to feel that their involvement in learningto play an instrument providesüem with a senseof personaìchoice and responsibility for reachingthe goalsthat they set themselves.WitÌr this in mind, the chaÌlengefor teachersis to be receptiveto eachchild's perspectiveon his or her own learning and to derrelopan understandingof the complex range of thoughts,feelings,andactionsthateithersustainor hinder the chiÌdrenthrough the many yearsthat it takesto developtheir musical skiÌls.

References

Ames,C. (1992). CÌassrooms:Goals,structures,and studentmotivation. lournal of EducationaÌ Psychology,84, 261-271. Arnold, J. A. (1997). A comparisonof attributions for successand failure in in- strumentalteachingâmongsixth-, eighth-,and tenth-gradestudents.Update:

Applications of Researchin Music Education, 15(2), 79-23.