Abstract What do parents expect out of piano lessons for their children?

Do they place their children in lessons to develop their brains, as a social outlet, or an extracurricular activity to keep them busy? The purpose of this project is to find out reasons why parents place their children in piano lessons. To do this, the author distributed surveys among parents with children in piano lessons (n=50) asking reasons why they place their child in piano lessons, background information, how they view piano lessons, and how their child views piano lessons. The results of this study concluded that 3 main reasons why parents place their children in piano lessons are as a: lifelong hobby to be developed and enjoyed later in life, brain development, especially the side of the brain dealing with reasoning and mathematics, and an appreciation and understanding of classical music. Other important reasons include a form of discipline, because the child is oriented towards music or asked for lessons, and as an opportunity to express emotion and relieve stress. Suggestions for further study include: standardized questions (rating, agree/disagree,) how socioeconomic factors relate to parent motivations, and protecting the confidentiality of the respondent. Keywords: parent attitudes, parent involvement, piano study, children

Table of Contents

Ch. 1- Introduction Background Problem Statement Purpose Ch. 2- Review of the Literature Benefits of Piano Study Effects of Parental Involvement/Home Environment Student attitudes and motivation/dropout behavior Ch. 3- The Survey Methodology Cover letter, Survey, Follow-up Ch. 4- Results Background/General Info Parents' Perceptions of Piano Study Childs' Perception of Piano Study Ways to improve communication with parent Ch. 4- Discussion and Conclusion Discussion Problems with survey Conclusion

Chapter 1- Introduction

Background Studying piano is a valuable and multifaceted discipline which requires dexterity, coordination, and training of the ear, mind, and hands. The profile that best fits the piano-lesson taking population is Caucasion (80%), female (70%), from upper-middle income families (44% of families reporting income over $70,000,) and live at home with both parents (84%.) (Duke, 1997). Success in piano study depends on innate skill and talent, but also on a number of external factors, including teachers and parents. In a survey conducted in 2004, five reasons why children drop out of piano lessons is because their parents 1) were not ‘directly involved’ 2) were not involved in practice sessions 3) did not listen to them practice 4) did not ‘reward’ them , and 5) had no level of music skill (Govel, 2004). This study concluded that there is a direct correlation between a child’s success in piano lessons and a parents’ involvement (More on page __.) Thus far, research has been limited to studies about the student or teacher (e.g. Costa-Giomi, 1995; Dyal, 1991; Duke, Flowers, & Wolfe, 1997.) Little, if any research, has focused on the parent’s involvement in piano lessons. This project is designed to bring awareness to ways parents can stay involved in their child’s musical progress, their perceptions and attitudes prior to and during piano lessons, and ways to improve communication between the parent and teacher. Some research questions that come up in the present study include: 1) What kind of parents place their children in piano lessons? 2) What are some reasons parents place their children piano lessons? 3) What are some ways teachers can improve communication with parents regarding their child's progress in piano lessons?

Problem Statement Some parents place their children in piano lessons with some kind of prior knowledge, whether they took piano lessons themselves, had musical experiences in their childhood, or are musicians themselves. However, some parents delve into piano lessons for their child not really knowing what to expect or gain from the experience. These parents often feel like they are wasting time, energy and money on an extracurricular activity which eventually leads to student dropout. The unknowing parent has never been exposed to the benefit and value of a music education. This project is designed to determine what the parent is exposed to the benefit and value of a music education. The target audience for this project is parents who place their children in piano lessons in Orange County, CA.

Purpose The purpose of this project is to investigate what parents expect out of piano lessons. By doing this, the author hopes to direct her teaching, whether it is towards competition, performing, sightreading, improvisation, etc. As the music teacher strives towards the ultimate goal of developing a wellrounded musician, it is imperative that parents are a part of the process.

Chapter 2- Review of the Literature Researchers of music education strongly suggest based on the results of their studies, that students who have access to music instruction are more likely to be successful in other academic areas (President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, 1996) Benefits and Value of Piano Study In 1990, a physicist named Gordon Shaw claimed that listening to classical music improves spatialtemporal reasoning skills, the part of the brain that deals with understanding "mathematics, chess, science and engineering." (Burack, 2005.) The claim was nicknamed the "Mozart Effect," and at once, several seized it as a marketable opportunity. As a result, a series of books, CDS, DVDs, and other educational materials were released with such titles as "Mozart for Your Mind" (Polygram Classics CD), "Baby Mozart" (MMB Music Inc), and The Mozart Effect: Tapping the power of music to heal the body, strengthen the mind, and unlock the creative spirit (Campbell, 2001). Even the governer of Georgia, Zell Miller, "budgeted for a compact disc or cassette for each infant born in the state." (Nantais & Schellenberg, 1999.) A series of scientists set out to validate these claims, among them Rudy Crncec, Frances Rauscher, Gordon Shaw, Pippa McKelvie, and Vesna Ivanov. The scientists designed experiments testing spatial temporal intelligence in students. The results of these studies were largely inconclusive. Some research concluded that spatial activity is enhanced within 10-15 minutes of listening to music (Rauscher & Shaw, 1993) while others found that listening to music deemed "engaging auditory stimuli," not necessarily classical music, will lead to increased performance on spatial-temporal tasks. (Nantais & Shellenberg, 1999). Researchers McKelvie and Low concluded that the "Mozart Effect is so ephemeral that it is questionable as to whether any practical application will come from it." (p. 241). Although the results of the Mozart Effect were largely disclaimed, the studies raised some interesting questions about music learning and intelligence. Music educator Bennett Reimer commented that the "integrity of music should be protected from alternative, nonmusic agendas." (p. 37). Researchers McKelvie and Low suggest studying the relationship between music and spatial performance further. Two such pathways to investigate are "arousal and transfer of learning." (McKelvie and Low, 2002). Rauscher and Shaw suggest exploring other factors that could possibly influence the Mozart Effect such as participants' age and the effect of spatial-temporal reasoning on students who study music over long periods of time (McKelvie and Low, 2002.) Although it is a highly debateable topic, the Mozart

Effect has increased interest in studying the effects of music on the brain for both scientists and laypersons alike. In a related study, Eugenia Costa-Giomi sought out to test the "effects of three years of piano instruction on children's cognitive development." (Costa-Giomi, 1999). The study involved a control group of 50 fourth-graders and an experimental group of 67 fourth-graders. At the beginning of the study, both groups were administered cognitive ability tests. Then, the experimental group was given weekly piano lessons for three years and an acoustic piano to practice at home. Costa-Giomi found a higher level in cognitive abilities in the experimental group within the first and second year. But after three years, she found no significant difference in cognitive abilities between the control group and experimental group. Costa-Giomi concluded that "the treatment improved children's general cognitive abilities and spatial abilities significantly but that these improvements were only temporary." (p. 207). She suggests further investigation concerning the effects of dedication to piano itself, hormones and hormonal changes, and the immediate versus long-term effects of piano study on children's cognitive development.

Effects of Parental/ Home Environment Parental and home environment have been known to affect the outcome of music lessons. This section will provide an overview of the literature on parental involvement, then the literature on home environment. As mentioned in the Introduction, Linda Svetka Mavich Govel assessed in her dissertation what parental factors led to cessation of piano study. A 95-item questionnaire was distributed among four middle/intermediate schools in the southern bay area of Los Angeles to students who were either considering dropping out of piano lessons or had already dropped piano lessons. Students who wanted to drop out of piano lessons cited that they "don't have enough time," "too busy," "boredom," "don't like piano," "sports," and "homework." Those who had already dropped out mentioned "loss of interest," "other after-school activities," "wanting to play other instruments," "too much homework," "scheduling conflicts," as the main reasons for quitting. (p. ix). Govel suggested making piano lessons more fun and interactive to increase the retention of piano students. Jane W. Davidson, Derek G. Moore, John A. Sloboda, and Michael J.A Howe (1996) studied 257 children of varying musical ability and their parents through interviews. It was found that “overall, the most musically able children had the highest levels of parental support.” (p. 399). This, along with other studies of related material, confirms the fact that involved parents usually equates with successful music students. Some studies, however, came up with conclusions that proved otherwise. In 1993, Stephan Zdzinski conducted cognitive and performance tests to 406 students and distributed surveys to their parents. He found "no significant relationship between parental involvement and performance achievement or overall music achievement (p. 196). He did, however, find that "parental involvement's effects upon musical achievement may differ with student age." (p. 200). Amanda Kay Harris (2008), upon exploring the relationship between adolescents and parental involvement, also found that parents have little effect on their child's musical success. Interviews were conducted with 28 students and their teachers and parents, on the following topics: parental

involvement levels, student achievement, and student satisfaction, using a five-point Likert scale (Strongly Disagree- Strongly Agree.) In her conclusion, Harris states that "there is little relationship between parental involvement and both student achievement and satisfaction." (p. 208.) For further study, she suggests studying students who have discontinued piano lessons, a larger number of students to participate in the study, a “thorough testing of the students’ abilities by the teacher,” and a “more comprehensive parent survey.” (p. 24-25). Home environment also factors in the outcome of piano lessons. In 1991, Vivian Graziano examined what factors in the home environment contribute to a successful outcome in piano lessons. Research was conducted through 12 in-depth interviews with 10 different families spanning four counties in the state of New York. Families were asked county of residence, studio and lesson type, piano methods, parental involvement, and definition of success. She found that "parental values such as concern for education, having goals and expectations, gaining basic musical skills, maintaining regular practice, developing discipline, commitment, responsibility, and perseverance have positive influences on children's participation and success." (p. 1-2). Henry Bonfati (1984) studied 19 home families with children involved in instrumental music programs. He examined his students through “descriptive” and “qualitative” analysis, as the method best suited his study. Bonifati modeled his study on Graziano’s (above) but focused his subjects to children studying in band. His results yielded that “the most important variables for successful music were parental concerns, such as support and encouragement.” (101). Kikuyo Matsumoto Power (1991) did a cross-cultural analysis of the difference between Japanese and American mothers' and teachers' attitudes towards music study. In the study, she sent questionnaires to mothers and teachers both in America and Japan asking them to describe their teaching strategies for their children. Her results yielded that, contrary to popular opinion, American mothers are more demanding on their children even though Japanese children had higher levels of achievement. Although American teachers take responsibility for success, Japanese teachers take the blame for failure. (p. )

Student Attitudes and Motivation/ Dropout behavior Another aspect of piano study deals with psychological factors such as motivation, perception/attitudes, and behavior. This section will cover the research that has been done in this branch of study as it relates to music study. In 1991, Edith Irene Colvin Dyal distributed a questionnaire among 506 piano students across five different areas of the United States to assess "factors attributed to success in piano study". Her three major conclusions were: 1. Good practice procedures are of vital importance if piano lessons are to have a successful outcome. 2. Encouragement and praise for work well done plays a strong role in the unfolding of successful piano lessons.

3. A balanced program of study, including a wide variety of music and each of the facets of music learning are found to be a factor in successful lessons. (Dyal, 1991)

It seems that be successful in piano study requires the right combination of practice, reward, and balance. Furthermore, Dyal suggested recommendations to further “promote rewarding lessons in the future:” 1. 2. 3. 4. More attention to good practice procedures Abundant positive constructive criticism Extra weekly music lessons in order to include all facets of music learning Broader training for teachers

5. Further research with a more representative sample of the various ethnic groups (Dyal, 1991). Eugenia Costa-Giomi looked at "behavioral differences between children who dropped out of piano lessons and those who continued for three years." (p. 198). Fourteen pairs of students with each pair studying with the same teacher were "systematically observed to record the duration or frequency of occurrence of selected student and teacher behaviors." (p. ) Two behaviors that Costa-Giomi noticed more in dropouts were "lowered motivation and diminished achievement." (p. ) Dropouts also sought more approval from their teachers than their peers. It can be concluded that despite "cognitive abilities, musical abilities, motor proficiency, self-esteem, and demographic factors," () dropouts exhibited three types of noticeable behavior (lowered motivation, diminished achievement, seeking approval) more than those who do not dropout. Three authors, D. Dubal, D.C. Sanders, and K.M. Power express their opinions about dropouts in various musical periodicals. Dubal commented that one of the biggest reasons children drop out of piano is from "too much competition from other activities." He also noted that unrealistic expectations from parents, such as practicing only something that is assigned by the teacher or “something nice,” can also lead to dropouts. Students who are in a constricting environment, not encouraged to “tinker” or “explore,” often feel that music is a boring and laborious activity. (p. ) Sanders states that one of the reasons that children do not stick with music lessons is because music is not appealing as other activities, and children think that "musical studies don't benefit later in life." Power, found that one reason parents place their children in piano lessons is because they are interested in "personal and social development through music." Student dropout can be attributed to a number of reasons, both from the student and parent perspective. Summary Studying piano involves brain and skill development, parental involvement, home environment, and a number of motivations, behaviors and attitudes on behalf of the student. Some are research studies, quantitative research, and opinion-based articles. This chapter highlights some significant contributors to their respective fields and serves as a springboard into future study and research.

Chapter 3- The Survey Methodology The study is a 30-question survey created by the researcher designed to last 15-20 minutes. The questions are based on five primary categories: background/general information (8), parent background regarding music study (5), parents’ perception of piano study for their children (11), students’ perception of piano study (2), and communication about piano study with the parent (3). The survey was built using www.zoomerang.com, a website that provides a "powerful, self-service alternative for conducting accurate comprehensive online surveys with a minimum of cost and effort." Once the survey and cover letter were completed, the project was approved through the California State University, Fullerton Institutional Review Board. In the Spring of 2010, the link http://tinyurl.com/321pianolessons was distributed among personal contacts, colleagues, MTAC teachers, music schools, and sheet music stores in and around Orange County. Complete responses were provided with a cash prize incentive (follow-up letter and $2 bill.) A total of 100 responses were scheduled. Before the Results Section, two potentially ambiguous terms should be defined: Perception- What is perceived, an attitude about something. Websters Piano Study- A piano lesson usually constitutes a once a week meeting with a teacher, and can range anywhere from 30 minutes-1 hour. Can be group of individual. Usually use a methods book, including but not limited to: Alfred, Faber & Faber, Suzuki, Yamaha.

The following is a hard-copy of the online survey distributed through the Zoomerang website, along with the implied consent form and follow-up letter.

Chapter 4- Results Background/General info Most respondents had their children in piano lessons 1-5 years, at the Elementary School level, and were considered Intermediate Level (2,3, 4). Their children studied with a Private Piano Teacher (5,) and were considered "Average" musical talent by their parents (6.) Most parents want their child in piano lessons "Until the child is 18" (7,) and responded "Maybe/I don't know" to the question "Do you want your child to become a professional musician?" (14.) To most parents, their view of piano lessons has not changed since the onset of lessons for their child (11.) On average, the parent supervises the

child 1-5 hours per week (19,) and 1-5 hours of music from all genres, including pop, classical, and underground hiphop, is listened to in the household (20, 21.)

Parent background regarding music study Of the __ parents surveyed, __% were not musicians themselves and __% were. Of the 43 responses to the question "How committed financially are you to music study?" (21,) 16 replied "Piano lessons and extramusical activities," including, but not limited to: competitions, recitals, workshops, concert tickets, and instrument repairs. 84% of parents sang to or played music to their child as a toddler, while 49% of parents take their children to listen to live concerts (23, 24.)

Parents' perceptions of piano study The bulkiest section of the survey yielded some noteworthy results. 29% parents saw, out of a list of four options, that they had seen "Increased Confidence" in their child since taking piano lessons (10.) 61% of parents were not familiar with the Mozart Effect, nor did they see a relationship between piano study and choice of career. (16,17.) 98% of parents believe that music enhances the quality of life, with extended responses such as "an outlet for expression from joy to sadness," It can provide enjoyment and relaxation and an appreciation for the arts in general," " It allows us to release stress," and "You can use music to express yourself when you can't communicate with anyone." When weighing the benefits, parents found the rank from most important to least important to be "Discipline, Exposure to classical music, Social interaction, Confidence, Lifelong hobby, and Brain development." (12.) When ranking in terms of priority, parents found the list to be "School, Sports, Piano Study, Recreation, Spiritual time, Family time." (13.) When asked what are the top three reasons for putting your child in piano study (9,) parents listed a range of responses, with the top three being 1) discipline, 2) brain development, and 3) hobby. Appendex 1 lists the categories, as well as the range of responses to this question.

Child's perception of piano study There were two questions pertaining to the child's perception of piano study. 60% of piano students taking piano lessons "Likes it", 20% "Does not like it", and 20% "Loves it." (8). 39% of parents say their child communicates with their parent "Often", 36% say "Sometimes," 22% say "Very often" and 3% say "Never (28.)

Communication about piano study with the parent Questions 27-30 addressed the communication about piano study with the parent. 37% of parents would rate the communication between the piano teacher as "Good." (27.) Of the 7 choices to the question "How do you think your child's piano teacher can communicate with you, the parent?" the most widely chosen was "E-mail". (29.) Other answers mentioned included "Before or after the lesson," "Progress reports," and "Facebook." Most parents, on average, would like to hear about their child's progress in piano "Monthly." (30.)

Chapter 5- Discussion and Conclusion Discussion “Parents’ Perceptions of Piano Study for Their Children” was based on two fundamental questions: "What are the top three reasons for putting your child in piano study?" and "How do you think your child's piano teacher can communicate with you, the parent?" These questions came about after personal experience teaching children who were not particularly talented in music nor seem to want to be at the lessons, and having parents who were not all that involved in their children’s lessons. The researcher wanted to use those main questions, as well as other questions regarding background information, personal experience, and perceptions of piano study, to examine how much parents know about their children’s piano lessons. Parents who answered the question “What are the top three reasons for putting your child in piano study?" came up with a multitude of answers. Most of the answers were split up based on categories that were established through the same or similar use of words, such as "development," "enjoy," "hobby," "relax." All other answers were left in an "other" category". Some answers were vague, with one-worded answers such as "talent," while others were explicative, like "makes them a well-rounded person; makes up for the lack of music lessons in the public school system." Through this survey, the researcher has discovered the top ten reasons why parents place their children in piano lessons: 1. Lifelong hobby/skill (24) 2. Brain/Academic development (18) 3. Love and appreciation of music (14) 4. Child has interest/talent (10) 5. Discipline (9) 6. Release stress later on (5) 7. To be able to play in church (2) 8. To expand creativity (2) 9. To learn to focus (2) 10. To learn to be patient (2). The final of question of the survey was “How do you think your child’s piano teacher can communicate with you, the parent?” The top seven answers that parents gave were: 1. Email (27) 2. Progress reports (18) 3. Phone Calls (16) 4. Parent meetings (13) 5. Report cards (12) 6. Parent/student lessons (8) 7. Newsletters (5) Since 2. 3. 4. and 5. are modes of communication are taken from the school system, a piano teacher could schedule these based on the school system, whether it be by trimester, semester, or quarter. Email and newsletters are also ways of communicating as well as using modern-day technology, like Facebook and Twitter (as one parent suggested.) Parent/student lessons, although it came in 6th place, can be a rewarding experience, especially if the parent does not know how to read music or is relearning music after a long hiatus.

Problems with Survey A few problems arose when accessing the survey. Some were with distribution, some were the questions of the survey, and some was of the content of the survey itself. The glitches found in the questionnaire were found after finalization and there was no way to change them once the survey was distributed. Distribution Since the surveys were collected at various places and locations, there were variables as to the background of the type of lesson being taken. The initial idea for the project was to survey all music studios in and around Orange County, CA. However, many people I corresponded with did not want to give out their information to a stranger, and therefore did not take the survey for this reason. Once I found this distribution method insufficient, I widened my net and asked any willing parent with a child in piano lessons to participate. The survey turned out to be more like a random sample of parents, rather than a population of people taking a similar type of piano lesson. Survey Format Distributing an online survey has its benefits as well as its downfalls. In question 13, the surveyor is asked to check all that apply to which changes in behavior they saw in their children. For some reason, most could not check more than one. Because of that, parents could have seen more than one behavior change in the student, but was not able to mark them on the survey. In addition, there were two ranking questions. Many people who took the hard copy version did not play correctly. Many people mistaken ranking with rating questions, and therefore do not answer the question fully. In the question, parents were supposed to rank activities in terms of priority (16,) and rank behaviors in terms of importance (17.) Some parents did not rank all six items, while other parents ranked all of them as important. If the question is not understood correctly, it skews the data and therefore makes the evidence not 100% valid. Survey Content Looking back, the researcher could have improved the survey in two ways: by making the survey more interactive, or by making all the questions uniform (Likert Scale, Yes/No/Maybe, Rating/Ranking.) The author thinks the way certain questions were worded encouraged parents to choose the “right” answer and forced them to answer in a constricting manner (). Instead, the researcher could have made more open-ended questions, like “Write in the approximate number of minutes/hours you supervise the child’s piano at home.” This way, it forces the parents to think, instead of giving them a choice to choose from. Making all the questions uniform could have made the survey more accessible, as it limits the potential confusion of question-type and allows the respondent to follow a predictable routine.

Conclusion The study yielded some invaluable results.

Every action taken usually involves a reason or a motivation behind it. Placing a child in piano lessons could be for a complex or a simple reason. This survey was designed to assess what are some reasons parents place their children in piano lessons, as well as gauge their perception of it. The answers that parents give have to be figured into the teaching equation. If they want their childrens brains to be developed, then it would not be wise to learning in front of a computer. If they want piano to be something they enjoy for a lifetime, then it is part of the teachers' responsibility to keep them informed and engaged. if they want their children to love and appreciate music, then that characteristic should begin and be nurtured at the lesson. Music should be a tool that encourages, and rewards, motivates, and even inspires. This section reviews reasons and motivations for the project, a discussion of the research, and problems that arose with the survey. Further refinement of the survey could include open-ended questions that force the parent to think independently, a clear explanation of ranking versus rating, distribution of the survey among a homogeneous section of the population, and allowing the respondent to answer anonymously. What can children do: communicate to parents and teachers through logs What can teachers do: communicate What can parents do: stay involved in their child's musical progress. References

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Discography Baby Mozart MMB Music Inc Mozart for your Mind Polygram Classics CD

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