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Verbal and Operant Responses of Young Children to Vocal versus Instrumental Song Performances

Wendy L. Sims and Jane W. Cassidy
Journal of Research in Music Education
Vol. 45, No. 2 (Summer, 1997), pp. 234-244
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3345583
Page Count: 11
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Verbal and Operant Responses of Young Children to Vocal versus Instrumental Song Performances
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Abstract

The purpose of this research was to investigate the effects of the presence or absence of lyrics in children's musical selections on two types of young children's responses to music. Of additional interest were differences in responses due to subjects' ages and genders. Two studies were designed to compare responses to recorded lullabies with the melodies performed either by a woman singing the lyrics or by a solo instrument. In Study 1, a pictographic rating scale was used to obtain like-dislike responses to 10 music excerpts from 40 children, ages 4 and 5 years. Results of a three-way repeated-measures ANOVA indicated no significant differences due to the main effects of performance medium, age, or gender, with no significant interactions. Subjects for Study 2 were 51 preschool and kindergarten children. Each child individually listened to two pieces with lyrics and two without lyrics for as long as he or she chose, up to the complete duration of each piece. Time spent listening was recorded to the nearest second. Results of a three-way repeated-measures ANOVA indicated no significant differences due to the main effects of performance medium or song, although girls did listen significantly longer than boys did. The results of both studies are consistent with the results of previous research indicating that young children's music attitudes and preferences do not seem to be based on specific musical characteristics and that children may have very idiosyncratic responses and listening styles. The use of time spent listening as a dependent measure for music preference is called into question.

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