Title

Understanding Students’ Motivations in School Orchestra Music Programs

Poster Number

15

Lead Author Affiliation

Music Education

Introduction

String programs, once the main instrumental music program choice for children, have been seeing a decline in participation since the turn of the 1900s (Hash, 2009). Despite this decrease in interest and availability of public school string programs, many schools continue to offer strings as an option for students, allowing students to explore their musical interests of violin, viola, cello, or bass. In order to keep elective instrumental students involved, engaged and inspired, it is important to understand what factors affect their decisions to persist or quit music instruction.

Purpose

The purpose of this research, based on a study by Evans & McPherson (2014), was to reveal what affects young string players’ decisions to participate in orchestra based on how well they feel that their psychological needs of competence, relatedness, and autonomy have been met.

Method

The participants in this research were 69 students from four schools serving students in grades six through eight in Stockton. Of the students who participated in this survey, 2 played bass, 10 played cello, 5 played viola, and 52 played violin. Students were administered a short survey with 14 Likert-type questions and 4 open-ended questions. Questions 1 through 5 assess a student’s competence on their instrument, questions 6 through 9 assess a student’s relatedness and questions 10 through 14 assess a student’s autonomy. The results from each category of questions were totaled in order to give each student a raw score based on how they answered. Averages of these scores were formulated for each student, class, and school in order to compare groups using one-way ANOVA tests. The open ended questions were utilized in order to allow students to write more personally about their orchestral experiences.

Results

Results found that students felt that their competence needs had been met (4.15/5), their needs for autonomy had also been met (4.35/5), but their needs for relatedness were significantly lower (3.38/5) than competence and relatedness (p=<0.01). These results show that the students polled in this research felt less connection with their teacher and peers than compared to the confidence in their ability. Also, when comparing the average relatedness level of the students who stated that they had never thought about quitting to those who had (question number two in the open ended section), students' relatedness rating was proven to be significantly influential to students’ thoughts on quitting (p=0.0056).

Significance

Current and future teachers should not underestimate the power that they and students’ peers have on maintaining an orchestral program. This research highlights this importance in that students who felt more connected to the teacher and peers were less likely to think about quitting. By actively addressing relatedness in the classroom, teachers will effectively lower the risk that instrumental music students will consider quitting orchestra.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Stockton campus, University of the Pacific

Format

Poster Presentation

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Understanding Students’ Motivations in School Orchestra Music Programs

DeRosa University Center, Stockton campus, University of the Pacific

String programs, once the main instrumental music program choice for children, have been seeing a decline in participation since the turn of the 1900s (Hash, 2009). Despite this decrease in interest and availability of public school string programs, many schools continue to offer strings as an option for students, allowing students to explore their musical interests of violin, viola, cello, or bass. In order to keep elective instrumental students involved, engaged and inspired, it is important to understand what factors affect their decisions to persist or quit music instruction.