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Publication Detail
Understanding and nurturing musical development in children and young people : The Sounds of Intent project
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Welch G, Himonides E, Ockelford A, Vogiatzoglou A, Zimmermann S
  • Publisher:
    University of Macedonia, Greece
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    247, 256
  • Editors:
    Johnson C
  • Book title:
    Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth International Seminar on Research in Music Education
  • Keywords:
    Music, Research methods
The research paper reports on the latest fieldwork from a decade-long study into musical behaviour and development in children and young people with complex needs, i.e., severe learning difficulties (SLD) or profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD). The current (2011) English school population is 8.123m, of whom 20.6% (approximately 1.7m) are identified as having some form of special educational need (SEN). These include 39,000 children with complex needs (SLD and PMLD, at a ratio of 3:1). However, children with special needs in general are under represented in the music education research literature. This is somewhat surprising given the long-standing interest in music as therapy and also the on-going research within the neurosciences and cognitive psychology to suggest that musical behaviour is one of the core characteristics of the human condition. An initial research survey of music in the special school sector revealed that music was valued, but that schools had little formal guidance or cultural expectation about how to foster musical behaviour in the context of special needs. The survey marked the beginnings of a decade of research activity by the authors of this paper, working in collaboration with schools and parents, to remedy this situation by creating a developmental framework that is grounded in case study evidence. In the latest phase of the Sounds of Intent (SoI) research, the framework is now being made available on-line to the special school sector. Over an initial two-month period, n=42 colleagues in special schools have begun to use the SoI framework, generating data on n=172 children. An analysis of the distribution of the teachers? observational assessment data reveals a wide diversity of musical behaviours in their pupils, but with no significant gender, nor ethnicity differences. However, analysis by SEN categories suggests that there may be characteristic differences in these group?s music behaviour profiles, related to the nature and severity of the disability. Nevertheless, it is extremely rare for any child not to demonstrate some form of engagement with music. Overall, the research indicates that the new, on-line SoI developmental framework is already beginning to assist participant teachers in improving the range and quality of their music education activities. It is also proving to be a useful research tool that will enable us to build a much more detailed and complete picture of the nature of musical behaviour and how it can be nurtured and developed for all children.
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