Volume 1, 2014
Music Genre Recognition and Evaluation of the Pre-school Population in Šabac, Serbia
The research deals with the
effects of the institutional music activities on the
music genre recognition and evaluation of pre-school
population in Šabac, Serbia. The sample consisted of
235 children, age of 5.5 - 6.5 years, from: 3 urban
and 3 rural kindergartens, a music school and a
children's choir, in 2008/09. Using the methodology
of the similar researches two instruments were
Genre (MG) and Music
Evaluation (MEv). The research had a
pre-test/post-test design. Two independent variables
- type of institution and gender were used.
The research hypothesis was confirmed by the
existence of a significant probability (p <
.05) between the pre and post-tests for the
MG. The analysis of the results did not confirm the
effects of the music activities over the MEv at a
significant level neither for the sample, nor
between the groups.
The effects of the institutional music activity on music cognition and evaluation of music genres of children aged 5.5 - 6.5 years, i.e., pre-school children, are a constant challenge for design of scientific research, in view of the fact that many scholars argue that this age is crucial for the further development of music aptitude. According Edwin Gordon, “…the development of music aptitude takes place in the formative years from birth… through approximately age nine” (1979/1986: 3; MENC Music Aptitude: Critical Ages for Music Learning achieved 2011). Consequently, “...infancy and early childhood are critical periods for the development of music abilities and the formation of music identity” (Welch, 2006: 261). Ksenija Mirković-Radoš's literature review in the book about music aptitude cites that these researches are focused on “the transitional period of the children's development – early childhood (5 - 8 years)... which is the main critical period (accordind Michel between the fifth and the sixth year – Michel )... but also new forms of children's potentials have been discovered in the previous researches considered as a characteristic for older children - for example, the response to the expressive qualities of music” (Gardner,  in Mirković-Radoš, 1996: 86). “The stage of greatest receptivity to music impressions is between 6 and 24 months, and then between the fifth and the sixth year” (Michel, [1973: 14] in ibid: 240) and “this extraordinary capacity for rapid development and ease in learning music, needs to be used” (ibid).
Music education, music psychology and sociology of music and other musicological studies, usually observe the problem of music genres at two levels: recognition and preference. The findings of the study “Qualitative Investigation of Young Children's Music Preferences” by Kathryn Roulston (2006) contribute to an understanding of young children’s music preferences and listening habits in contemporary Western society. Using qualitative method, Roulston investigated music preferences of children from Georgia, USA (3-4 year old & 4-5 year old, Kindergarten, first, and second grade), through group conversations with children, interviews with parents, and nonparticipant observation of classroom settings in daycare and elementary classrooms. Roulston analyzed data inductively to generate themes (using computer assisted qualitative data analysis software) and discovered that:
(1) children expressed distinct preferences for an eclectic range of music from very early ages; (2) rock and popular music were frequently mentioned as preferred styles by parents and children, with movie and television soundtracks high in popularity; (3) music listening was characterized by a reliance on diverse technologies, with listening inextricably interwoven with viewing; and (4) music listening and experiences at home described by children and parents varied considerably from what was offered in the school and daycare settings. (ibid: 1)
The literature review at the beginning of the study summarizes the results of the existing surveys on music preference of children:
First, researchers have found that popular and rock styles of music are popular among elementary children (see for example, Brittin, ; Greer et al., ; Jellison & Flowers, ; LeBlanc, , ) and that the preference for rock music increased with age.
Second, when tested, younger children routinely gave higher preference scores for audio-taped music excerpts that they listened to, and responded more positively to the music excerpts presented than older children (see Brittin, ; LeBlanc et al., , LeBlanc et al., ; Montgomery, ).
Third, with respect to characteristics of most preferred music, studies have shown that children prefer music (in a variety of styles) performed in faster tempi (LeBlanc, , LeBlanc et al, ; Montgomery, ), giving preference to familiar, as opposed to unfamiliar, music (Demorest & Schultz, ).
Fourth, significant variables in music preference include age, country and gender (LeBlanc et al., ), and the race of the listener and the performer (McCrary, ). In contrast, Sims’ and Cassidy’s study  demonstrated that the absence or presence of lyrics did not appear to affect young children’s music preferences, and was not a significant variable impacting music preference. (ibid: 3)
Graham Welch addresses music preference of the young children in context of influence of social groups. According his review “…the children from economically advantaged groups are more likely to be enculturated into classical (high-art) music and to experience instrumental playing at home (Welch, 2006: 259). Also, young children “…are reported as being more willing to listen to different music styles compared to older children and adolescents” (ibid: 260).
The instruments for the surveys of genre preference usually use cartoon illustrations for the selection of different genres and pre-determined aesthetic judgment of experts who chose the music examples. Some of the surveys use five-level Likert scale with illustrations that emphatically represent its levels (Peery and Peery, 1986). We also had in mind the surveys designed with an attempt to modify the music preferences of pre-school children: for example, the survey by Schuckert and McDonald (1968), which uses a treatment with repeated exposure to less preferred music genres, classical and jazz music. We could not find examples of surveys based on music genre recognition at pre-school age. There is a survey with college students by Jui-Ching Wang (2007).
Research question, definition of terms, null hypothesis and variables
Our survey was based on the following research question:
Is it possible to stimulate the music development in the pre-school age with planned music activities in
- the cognitive domain, thereby referring to music genre recognition, and in
- the evaluation domain, i.e., appreciation of a music work that specifies a music genre?
For this purpose we used the definitions of valuing and evaluation included in Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains. In accordance with Bloom's Taxonomy, the valuing is part of the affective domain and represents
[t]he worth or value a person attaches to a particular object, phenomenon, or behavior. This ranges from simple acceptance to the more complex state of commitment. Valuing is based on the internalization of a set of specified values, while clues to these values are expressed in the learner's overt behavior and are often identifiable. (Bloom, 2010 )
The evaluation, on the other hand, is located in the cognitive domain as “judgments about the value of ideas or materials” (ibid).
We accepted Price’s definition of aesthetic experience – “[i]ntense subjective and personal experience. Feelingful reaction. Requires perception, experience of feelings and reactions, and psychological involvement” (1986: 152).
The term music activities covers organized institutional music activities at two levels:
– music activities in kindergartens, and
– music activities in specialized music institutions.
The second segment was further divided into:
– music school courses, and
– participation in a children's choir.
Pre-school population of our study encompassed children aged 5.5 – 6.5 years, i.e., children born in the time span March 1, 2002 – February 28, 2003. The research was conducted in the Municipality of Šabac in 2008/2009 school year, in order to get a compact group in social, economic, political and cultural sense.
Our null hypotheses stated:
Music activities have no effect on:
1. Recognition of music genres, and
2. Evaluation of music works.
The key independent variable in the research was type of institution. In addition, the results were subgroup-analyzed within the independent variable gender.
The sample was stratified in four groups according to urban/rural environment and the type of music education:
– urban kindergartens
– rural kindergartens
– music school
– Art studio Šabac - Children’s choir Viva-ći.
Further sampling criteria included: representativeness, proportionality, and random selection. We used the whole population of the music school and the members of the Viva-ći Choir and sampling was done only in the pre-school population from the kindergartens, which numbered 1027 children in the 2008/09 year in the Municipality of Šabac.
Thus we came to the number of 235 participants from eight educational institutions.
The pilot survey was
conducted in the urban kindergarten “Pčelica”
(Little bee) (Photograph 1). The urban
kindergartens chosen for the main survey were as
follows: “Mladost” (Youth), “Sloboda” (Freedom),
and “Snežana” (Snow White). Pre-school groups in
the villages of Municipality of Šabac are
located in the buildings of the elementary
schools, local municipal offices and community
cultural centers. Hence, pre-school groups
included in the main survey come from the
elementary school “Srpska narodna škola”
(Serbian people’s school) in Drenovac and “Kralj
Aleksandar Karađorđević” (King Aleksandar
Karađorđević) in Prnjavor, and from the
Community cultural center in Mišar (Photograph
4). The main survey was conducted in the Music
school “Mihailo Vukdragović” – Šabac (Photograph
2), and specialized music institution Art studio
Šabac - Children’s choir Viva-ći (Photograph
Two research instruments, music genre (MG) and music evaluation (MEv) questionnaires were built upon the methodology of the similar researches in our region and worldwide. The instrument MG consists of two music examples from six music genres (popular, traditional folk, spiritual, classical, children’s pop and ethno-pop), i.e., twelve music examples. The criteria for the selection of genres were based on the existing music environment of the children and their capacity to identify them. Also we chose the most popular examples during the period of the research.
cartoon illustrations in accordance with the
six selected music genres were designed
(Figure 1). Above each example we placed a
colored triangle, circle or square, as a means
for orientation. Popular genre was represented
with rock guitarist, spiritual music with a
church, traditional folk music with girl in
national costume, classical music with a
pianist playing on a grand piano, children’s
music with a teddy bear with a note on its
chest, and ethno-pop music with ethno-pop
female singer with purple hair, yellow dress,
blue opera length gloves, holding a
microphone. The children listened to the
example and then circled one of the six
cartoon illustration in accordance of their
recognition of the genre. The researcher
guided the children through this process,
using a carefully prepared written procedure.
The MG instrument consisted of following twelve music examples, preceded by two introductory examples.
1. Tijana Dapčević: Plamen stare ljubavi (popular) (1:22)
2. Nada Topčagić: Jutro je (ethno-pop) (1:24)
3. Main examples:
4. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Piano concerto no.1 op. 23, I mov (classical) (1:02)
5. Marija Šerifović: Molitva (popular) (1:24)
6. Ksenija Cicvarić: Što si leno na golemo (traditional folk) (1:21)
7. Stevan Stojanović Mokranjac: Tebe pojem (spiritual) (1:08)
8. Jovan Adamov: Dve ruke (children’s song) (1:20)
9. Slobodan Batjarević-Cobe: Karmin od vanile (ethno-pop) (1:20)
10. Folk song: Svilen konac (traditional folk) (1:12)
11. Stevan Stojanović Mokranjac: Heruvimska pesma (spiritual) (1:04)
12. Nena Leković: Neradinka (children’s song) (1:20)
13. Svetlana Ceca Ražnatović: Lepi grome moj (ethno-pop) (1:22)
14. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony no. 40 G-minor, KV 550, I mov (classical) (1:04)
15. Riblja čorba: Nojeva barka (popular) (1:22)
Maximum score for MG was 12, and the marking was correct and incorrect. In addition, the questionnaire provided an opportunity for the analysis of the incorrect answers.
The MEv instrument, also consisted of twelve music examples, plus the introductory examples:
1. Ludwig van Beethoven: Für Elise (1:14)
2. Mussorgsky/Ravel: The Catacombs from Pictures at an Exhibition (1:04)
The music examples for the research are the same as the ones included in MG, but were given in a random order.
children were selecting one of the two
possible answers: beautiful
represented by cartoon
illustrations of a fairy and a witch
(Figure 2). Again
above each example a geometric figure was
inserted, and entirely same procedure was
Research procedure consisted of preparatory, pilot survey, pre-test and post-test phases.
The treatment between the pre-test and post-test was based on:
– the music activities in the music school and the Viva-ći Choir as experimental groups, and
– the music activities in the kindergartens as control groups.
The kindergartens treatment included: singing, listening to music, playing and dance activities, which are regular parts of the State manual for pre-school program (2006: 69 - 70, 91 - 2). In addition, the treatment included the frequently used textbook in Serbia, Methodology of music education of children at pre-school age, where the four standard music activities are enriched with musical plays and music creativity (Ђурковић-Пантелић, 1998). The duration of the treatment was 36 weeks and two models were applied:
– model A: activities were organized several times per week depending on the content, and
– model B: activities organized two to three times per week for 30 minutes.
The treatment in the Viva-ći Choir was in accordance to the regular choir program in Art studio Šabac. It must be pointed out that the children attended the choir as a supplementary activity, in addition to the regular pre-school program. This program devotes special attention on:
– development of the auditory and rhythmic discrimination,
– training of the music memory,
– cultivation of the music taste,
– development and cultivation of the singing voice as means of music expression,
– development and consistency of movements as a means of music expression,
– application of dynamic nuances,
– precise intonation,
– proper breathing and voice position, and
– development of the performance capabilities: the range of voice, and correct pronunciation of words.
The program was guided by experienced choir conductors and the choir gave three concerts during the treatment period. The duration of the treatment was 35 weeks, two times per week for 45 minutes, with extensive rehearsals before concerts, three to four times per week.
Music activities in the music school are also supplementary to the pre-school program. In our study the subjects from the music school attended either so-called music kindergarten or preparatory class. The music activities in the music kindergarten are directed towards the development of the auditory discrimination skills through singing, rhythm and listening to music. The activities in the preparatory class include music literacy, listening, singing, as well learning an instrument: piano, violin, accordion or guitar. The treatment duration was 35 weeks with two classes of sight-singing per week for 30 minutes in the music kindergarten, and two classes of sight-singing per week for 45 minutes and two classes of instrument for 15 minutes.
The collected data were entered in StatView 5.0.1. database, which enabled the following statistical analysis: frequency distribution of raw scores and proportions, descriptive statistics, measurement of instrument reliability and internal consistency through Pearson's correlation and Cronbach’s alpha, z-test, t-test, ANOVA, Post hoc Bonferroni/Dunn test and Wilcoxon signed-rank test.
At the beginning we will present
the sample frequency distributions of gender,
of institution. Sixty percent of the
sample were girls (N = 94) and fourty percent
were boys (N = 161). This distribution of the
sample was result of the structure of the Viva-ći Choir which in 2008/09 included
more female members. The age of the
participants was in the range of 65 months,
i.e., 5 years and 5 months, to 79 months,
i.e., 6 years and 7 during the pre-test
period. Distribution according type
of institution showed
similar number of participants
of the urban and
rural kindergartens, 21% belonged to the Viva-ći
Choir and 7% of the respondents were from the music school (Chart 1).
Genre preferences, as we have already mentioned, are frequent subject of a large number of researches. However, the surveys of the genre preferences of our age group are avoided assuming the undeveloped genre discrimination. This questionnaire MG is exclusively in the service of hypothesis: Can music activities stimulate cognitive development for the recognition of music genres, or is it too early to obtain significant results at this age.
The reliability of MG was
tested with two methods: split-half correlation
and calculating internal consistency with
Cronbach's alpha (Table 1). Split-half
correlation showed significant results at the
sample level, while certain groups of type of
institution did not have statistically
significant correlation coefficient. Cronbach
alpha coefficients had the same values for the
pre-test and the post-test at the sample level
while the other coefficients ranged from .243 to
.569, and both referred to the Viva-ći Choir.
The mean of correct answers
of the pre-test was 8.31, i.e., 69% of the
maximum number of correct answers on the
questionnaire MG (Table 2). At the post-test,
the mean of correct answers was 9.28 or 77% of
the maximum number of correct answers. These
high percentages of correct answers indicate a
familiarity of the pre-school participants with
the music genres, i.e., ability to recognize or
distinguish them. Other descriptive statistics
confirmed the previous result: maximum 12 out of
12 correct answers, and mode of 10 at the
pre-test, as well as at the post-test.
Differences within type of institution and gender
The post-tests means for the group measurement within type of institution were all higher. The highest mean at the pre-test, as well as at the post-test, occurred at the Viva-ći Choir, which is confirmed by the values of z (Table 3). Significant negative z-value appeared only at the rural kindergartens at the pre-test. ANOVA showed statistical significance within the groups of type of institution at the pre-test (F = 8.55, p < .0001), as well as at the post-test (F = 6.65, p = .0003). The post hoc test pointed to the differences between:
– urban and rural kindergartens at the pre-test (mean difference .89, p = .003),
– the Viva-ći Choir and rural kindergartens at the pre-test (mean difference 1.69, p < .0001); and
– the Viva-ći Choir and all other groups at the post-test (mean difference with urban kindergartens 1.05, p = .0008, rural kindergartens 1.3, p < .0001, music school 1.34, p = .007).
showed no significant differences between boys
Analysis of the results for selected music examples
Pre-school children in Šabac showed the greatest ability to discriminate music examples related to classical and sacred music, and the least ability to discriminate music examples of the ethno-pop and traditional folk music. The participants often confused:
– ethno-pop with popular music,
– traditional folk music with the spiritual, the ethno-pop, and rarely with classical music,
– children's pop with ethno-pop music,
– and classical music with a spiritual and traditional folk music.
For example, 36% of children at the pre-test and nearly half of children (48%) at the post-test recognized the second example of popular music (Marija Šerifović: Molitva), as ethno-pop music. On the other hand, an equal number of participants identified the sixth example (Slobodan Batjarević-Cobe: Karmin od vanile) as popular, or ethno-pop. Identification problems also occurred with the example of traditional folk music (Što si Leno na golemo) confused with spiritual, ethno-pop, or classical music.
High proportion of correct answers occurred for the examples of children’s songs, with the exception of the ninth example (Neradinka), where, almost a quarter of participants at the pre-test recognized as an ethno-pop. A small percentage mixed up classical music with a spiritual, or with traditional folk music, particularly in the eleventh example (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony no. 40 G-minor, KV 550, I mov).
We have rejected the null
hypothesis that music activities have no effect
on the recognition of music genres, at the
probability level p < .0001 for the
entire sample (t = 8.11), for both genders, for
Viva-ći Choir and
for rural kindergartens (Table 4). The
probability level for recognition of music
genres for the urban kindergartens is at p
< .0012. The null hypothesis concerning
the lack of differences between pre/post-test
for the music school group was confirmed.
The MEv instrument was created to research the influence of the music activities in the development of the listening habits of pre-school children and their music genre preference. The analysis of MEv was based on the music genres ranks which enabled the use of Wilcoxon signed-rank test, as a nonparametric alternative of the t-test.
The merged results of the pre
and post-test showed over 50% of preference for
the twelve examples at the sample level (from 54.47% for the
spiritual example Stevan
Stojanović Mokranjac: Heruvimska
pesma to 95.32% for the children’s
song Jovan Adamov: Dve ruke).
The rank according mean values is given in Table
The pre-test rank was: children, popular, classical, ethno-pop, traditional folk, spiritual music (Table 6). The post-test rank of genres was as follows:
– children’s music had the highest rank at the sample level, and in all groups;
– classical music shifted from third to second place, which supported our hypothesis about the effects of music activities on music evaluation;
– ethno-pop music took the third place, thus pushing out the popular music ranking received on the pre-test; there were different distributions for the two genre examples: one got a high level of preference in the entire sample in both kindergartens and with both genders (Svetlana Ceca Ražnatović: Lepi grome moj), while the other example got a low level of preferences (Slobodan Batjarević-Cobe: Karmin od vanile); on the contrary, the participants from the music school and the Viva-ći Choir evaluated both examples of this genre with lower preference;
– the popular music was in the fourth place with different distribution for each example (high preference at the post-test for Marija Šerifović: Molitva and low level of preference for Riblja čorba: Nojeva barka); this trend was maintained even within the groups;
– traditional folk music appeared on the fifth place; it is important that the female participants showed higher preference for this genre on the post-test;
– spiritual music was rejected by 64% of the participants at sample level; greater acceptance of this music appeared only by the participants from the music school and rural kindergartens.
Considering the results within groups, we will select only the most important results: lower preference for ethno-pop music by the Viva-ći Choir on the post-test and a refusal of spiritual music at the sample level and by all groups. The participants from the urban kindergartens demonstrated higher preference for children’s pop, classical and ethno-pop music on the post-test.
Male participants showed higher preference for children’s music on the post-test and for the popular and ethno-pop examples with female singer (Marija Šerifović: Molitva and Svetlana Ceca Ražnatović: Lepi grome moj) versus lower preference for the examples with male singers (Riblja čorba: Nojeva barka and Slobodan Batjarević-Cobe: Karmin od vanile).
Female participants showed
higher preference for both examples of
traditional folk music, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:
Symphony no. 40 G-minor, KV 550, I mov, Jovan
Adamov: Dve ruke and, (same as
for male participants), for the popular and
ethno-pop examples with female singers (Marija
Šerifović: Molitva and Svetlana Ceca
Ražnatović: Lepi grome moj). They
disliked the popular music example Riblja čorba:
The results of Wilcoxon
signed-rank test showed no significant
difference between the pre-test and the
post-test (Table 7). However, we would like to
stress out that the Viva-ći Choir results
were significant at probability level p <
There are three main limitations of MEv, largely determined by the age of the participants. The first limitation relates to the selection of examples that include songs only from the local environment. However, we could not expect knowledge of other music cultures by the pre-school children, and especially not in such a large stratified sample of 235 respondents.
Another limitation relates to the design of the instrument items and the responses where dichotomy beautiful/ugly restriction was applied, instead of the regular scales for music genre evaluation.
The third limitation is related to the evaluation of music examples exclusively on general level of a certain genre.
Music activities of the pre-school children are considered as a very important factor of the individual music development. Based on our previous knowledge and experience we designed research regarding the effects of the institutional music activities on the music genre recognition and evaluation of pre-school population in Šabac, Serbia. Using the methodology of the similar researches two instruments were constructed: Music Genre (MG) and Music Evaluation (MEv).
The sample consisted of 235 children, age of 5.5 - 6.5 years, from: 3 urban and 3 rural kindergartens, a music school and a children's choir, in 2008/09. The research had pre-test/post-test design.
The study confirmed our expectations that there are different levels of influence on music genre recognition and evaluation. Research hypothesis about the effects of institutional music activities on the development of music cognition was confirmed with the differences between the MG pre/post-test at p < .0001.
The research hypothesis on the effects of institutional music activities on the music evaluation was rejected. However, it is important that in the analysis of the questionnaire MEv, difference between pre/post-test appears in the results of the Viva-ći Choir with the probability level p < .1.
As concerns the results of the null hypothesis:
H01 Music activities have no effect on the music genre recognition by the pre-school children: rejected by the value of t with probability level p < .0001.
H02 Music activities have no effect on the music genre evaluation by the pre-school children: confirmed by the value of z with probability level p = .5049.
ART Studio Šabac, www.artstudiosabac.org
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