An investigation of the young adult beginner learning piano in comparison with the child beginner
The present study is an attempt to understand the differences between the child and young adult beginner in learning how to play the piano as a basis towards improving college-level beginning piano teaching. The purpose of this study then is three fold: (1) to examine to what extent there is a difference of learning achievement and rate between the child and young adult beginner, centering on psychomotor skills, the process of music reading, and elements of interpretation in learning how to play the piano; (2) to find out factors affecting these three elements of musical learning in two groups; and (3) to drive ways towards improving college level beginning piano teaching. To examine these questions, comparisons were drawn between undergraduate non-music majors (19 - 24 years) and primary school children (8 years). The 10-week instructional period consisted of two 40-minute lessons per week for each individual. The investigator taught all subjects individually with the investigator-designed instructional programme focused on keyboard fluency, music reading, and interpretation. Through the pilot study materials and sequencing in the instructional programme were revised and a system of categories for learning-relevant variables emerged. Hypotheses related to a basis of differences in music learning between two groups were investigated using a three-point achievement measurement tool designed by the investigator. Other variables (physical capacity, intelligence, musical background, motivation to learn, learning attitude, emotional factors) affecting musical learning were investigated using IQ tests, the students' self-reports, investigator's reports, and parents' reports. The results of the principal investigation indicate that the young adult beginners performed in all three musical learning elements better than the child group. No evidence was found in support of stereotypical assumptions in the beginning piano study-related literature that the young adult beginner is at disadvantage to the child beginner in the acquisition of keyboard fluency skills. It appears that the young adult did not have problems related to physical capacity taught in this instruction. In addition, it appears that selection variables (physical capacity, intelligence, and musical background) played an important role in the musical achievement of the child beginner group compared with the young adult group. On the other hand, in the case of the young adult group, it appears that learning-related characteristics (motivation to learn, learning attitude, and emotional factors) were likely to be more important factors affecting the musical development compared with the child group.