‘For how long can you expect a child to blow into a French horn?’

Gary E. McPherson, Jane W. Davidson and Robert Faulkner

in Music In Our Lives: Rethinking Musical Ability, Development, and Identity

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199579297
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738463 | DOI:
‘For how long can you expect a child to blow into a French horn?’

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Chapter 2 and 3 raised doubts about how long the majority of young students could be expected to commit to ongoing instrumental learning in the face of a range of demotive factors: serious shortcomings about the quality of practice sessions, lack of parental support and even significant antagonism around practice sites, boredom, an absence of personal musical engagement, limited learner autonomy over nearly all areas of learning, restrictive forms of music making and learning (i.e., the dominance of performance from notation and absence of other forms of performance like playing by ear and improvising), and, for many, very limited progress in terms of musical skill development in both instrumental/technical and notational/literacy areas. If there is one concept that might encapsulate the key deficit that was created by these shortcomings it might be meaningful musical fluency. In its repeated absence, many students' initial triggered situational motivation turned to frustration because experiences were not matching expectations for musical outcomes. This chapter examines the fall-out from the programmes and learners' disengagement with formal instrumental music learning, which in some cases began at the end of the very first term of the programme. The chapter provides a sense of the scale and range of disillusionment, frustration, and disengagement, and attempts to understand in more detail some of the factors that contributed to decisions to give up.

Keywords: music students; musical development; instrumental music learning; meaningful musical fluency; student motivation

Chapter.  6847 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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