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A pilot study of seven-year-old children’s singing behaviour, development and engagement in China

Lu, C; Saunders, J; Welch, G; (2019) A pilot study of seven-year-old children’s singing behaviour, development and engagement in China. The Changing Face of Music and Art Education (CFMAE): Interdisciplinary Journal for Music and Art Pedagogy , 9 (2) pp. 23-49. Green open access

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Abstract

The article reports the outcomes of a pilot study that is part of a larger investigation into Chinese Primary school children’s singing behaviours, development and engagement. The prime aims of the pilot study were both to evaluate the assessment tools and protocol for the main study, which is designed to create a rounded picture of older Chinese children’s singing (aged 7-11 years), and also to explore the initial pilot study data for any emergent patterns. During the pilot study, data were collected from N = 15 participant children aged 7 years, drawn from 5 Primary schools in mainland China. Of these, there were 10 boys and 5 girls, with 2 out of 3 children drawn from rural areas. Child participants had no specialised singing training and all were volunteers, each participating with appropriate ethical approval). The pilot study focused on testing different aspects of children’s vocal products, as well as their perceptions about singing and one additional, non-musical aspect of identity (social inclusion). Assessments included each child’s spoken pitch centre, comfortable singing range, singing behaviours of three songs and attitudes to singing in different contexts, as well as their sense of being socially included. Vocal pitch behaviours were audio/video recorded and vocal pitching was assessed against a reference piano keyboard. The three target songs embraced one with a simple limited pitch range (Twinkle, Twinkle), one that had a more extended pitch range and contour (Happy Birthday) and a Chinese language nursery song (Little Donkey). Participants’ singing behaviours were measured against two established and complementary scales: Vocal Pitch Matching Development (VPMD) (Welch, 1998) and a Singing Voice Development Measure (SVDM) (Rutkowski, 1997). The children’s questionnaire contained statements concerning their attitudes to singing in different settings, including school, home, informal settings, their perceived identity as a singer (exploring their emotional connection with singing and self-identity) and their sense of social inclusion. The results confirmed that methods of singing assessment were generally appropriate to test participants’ singing behaviours. Little Donkey was reported as the hardest song by participants because of its lyrics, whilst Happy Birthday was the easiest song for them. Some statements in the questionnaire could not be understood easily by a few participants, and adults provided help. The questionnaire was effective in building a holistic picture of participants’ attitudes to singing. The results of the pilot study were as follows: (1) n=13 of 15 participants (87%) had a spoken pitch centre in the range from A3 to E4 (220Hz - 329Hz); (2) 75% of their comfortable singing range was encompassed by A#3 to A4 (233Hz - 440Hz), being almost 1 octave; (3) girls’ VPMD ratings were found to be significantly higher than those of boys in Twinkle, Twinkle (p = .001), and Little Donkey (p = .044), but similar for Happy Birthday. The VPMD ratings for Happy Birthday were the lowest of the three target songs for both sexes. No sex differences were found in SVDM ratings, and the SVDM scores across the three songs were similar. After combining the data from the two established rating scales to provide a composite measure of singing competency, only the song Twinkle, Twinkle had significant sex differences, in favour of females. N=10 children (4 boys and 6 girls) completed the questionnaire. The results suggested that these children’s attitudes to singing varied by theme. The ranking in order of relative positivity by means were as follows: social inclusion > emotional engagement to singing > values for singing at home > values for self-identity > values for singing in school > singing in informal settings. Overall, the pilot study indicated that the assessment tools and protocol were appropriate and could be applied in the proposed longitudinal main study in China that began in late 2017 and continues over successive years.

Type: Article
Title: A pilot study of seven-year-old children’s singing behaviour, development and engagement in China
Location: Estonia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://cfmaejournal.wordpress.com/2019/01/29/cfma...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: singing behaviours, 7-year-olds, sex differences, attitudes to singing, China
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10072129
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