Psychology of Music

Article Summary

The article “An experimental study of the effects of improvisation on the development of children’s creative thinking in music” by Koutsoupidou and Hargreaves (2009) presents the results of a quasi-experiment. It reports the results of the investigation of the correlation between improvisation and the development of children’s creativity in music. The subjects of the study were groups of 6-year-old children, who were the students of a primary school. The experiment was based on the suggestions of the scholars and previous investigations, which have found the association between musical creativity and development of children’s creative thinking. Thus, Koutsoupidou and Hargreaves (2009) claim that “musical creativity has been associated with children’s cognitive and emotional development, and its value is increasingly acknowledged in psychological and therapeutic studies.” Additionally, there was a presumption that reproduction of famous musical masterpieces by children stimulates their musical creativity and forms their unique patterns of thinking.

Moreover, the aim of the experiment was comparison and contrast between the impact of lessons of music improvisation and classic teacher-centered educational process. The assessment of the results of the experiment was conducted with the regard of certain music parameters. Consequently, the revealed data demonstrated significant development in creative thinking in those students, who were exposed to the lessons of improvisation. 


Research Question

Furthermore, the presumption that children’s creative thinking in music improves their experience gave basis for the research question of the study. Thus, the research question of the experiment was: “Does improvisational experience affect children’s development of creative thinking?” (Koutsoupidou, Hargreaves, 2009). Therefore, the quasi-experimental study addressed the investigation of the mechanisms, which can enable creative thinking in children by means of improvisation. That is why the study addressed such questions as: “Are there any differences between the creative products of children who are engaged in an intervention improvisation programme and those who are not?”, “Will children who experience improvisation demonstrate higher levels of creative thinking ability in music?” (Koutsoupidou, Hargreaves, 2009). Additionally, one of the aims of the study was to measure the extent of possible promoted dimensions of creative thinking. Furthermore, the study assumed that early stages of music making by children should have no restrictions as rules defining the structure, style or character of the produced music. Moreover, the authors defined the key idea of the study, which is “creativity”, as “an acquired behavior – learnable, teachable, tangible and crucial to human development” (Koutsoupidou, Hargreaves, 2009). Therefore, the investigators developed a methodology, which served as the best framework for the exploration of the required characteristics. 


The methodology, suggested by the study, reveals cause-effect correlation, which took the form of a quasi-experimental investigation. The scholars indicate that the study is quasi-experimental because they failed to perform all conditions of a true experiment (Koutsoupidou, Hargreaves, 2009). The reason for this statement is that despite they randomly selected the children in the addressed groups they failed to perform random assignments. At the same time, the experimental design of the study is operationalized with the help of individual groups. Moreover, the study used mixed methodology with pre- and post-test phases. Therefore, the test process was qualitative, the results were brought in a quantitative way, and the final stage of the experiment was a statistical analysis. 

Furthermore, the experiment was set in an ordinary classroom of a primary school. The participating six-year-old children were randomly selected and divided into two groups. The control group consisted of 13 children whereas the experimental group consisted of 12 individuals. The first group was exposed to control conditions whereas the second one undergone the experimental ones. At the same time, the scholars claim that the result of the study would have been more reliable and valid in case the groups were homogeneous. However, the level of intellectual development, age and gender were different. The lessons of both creative and non-creative direction were given by the same teacher of music. Additionally, scholars obtained the permission for the conduction of the study from the parents, the general teachers of the children, and the head teacher.

Furthermore, the selected methodology can be characterized by the usage of pre- and post stage as well as Webster’s Measure of Creative Thinking in Music II (MCTM-II) (Koutsoupidou, Hargreaves, 2009). The scholars assured the validity of the content presented for children. Moreover, they used different criteria for the assessment of creative thinking. Thus, the established tests fitted the theory of creativity, and they were attractive for the participants, feasible and applicable to different cultures (Koutsoupidou, Hargreaves, 2009). Furthermore, the degree of creative thinking in the children was assessed regarding such factors as syntax, originality, flexibility and musical extensiveness. The selected criteria were based on the study by Webster (Koutsoupidou, Hargreaves, 2009), served as dependent experimental variables and had a reliable theoretical background. Likewise, the independent variables of the study included the children’s abilities for education, memory and the academic performance. Additionally, the performed lessons were videotaped in order to allow performing a comparative analysis. 

Findings and Implications

The pre-test phase of the experiment indicated that both groups of children had the equal level of creative thinking. At the same time, at the end of the experiment, the scholars found a significant statistical change in the scores of groups. Thus, Koutsoupidou and Hargreaves (2009) state that the experimental group demonstrated significant musical flexibility, originality and syntax, whereas the control group demonstrated only a small change. Moreover, the reliability of the performed tests was approved by a second independent examiner. 

Furthermore, the authors of the article suggest that the results of the study help to investigate the aspects, which allow increasing children’s creativity in music. Likewise, this aim is one of the general aims of the National Curriculum for England. Therefore, the revealed correlation between the lessons of improvisation and the increase of creative musical thinking in children may be regarded as a success. 

Research Proposal

The proposed research considers the impact of the lessons of improvisation in music on children’s ability for creative thinking regarding the sphere of arts. The aim of the proposed research is to find a correlation between enhanced musical creativity and artistic creativity. One suggests that there might be a direct impact of developed musical creativity on other spheres, which incorporate freedom of thinking. One of the common aspects for children in this sense is art or drawing in particular. The study aims at identifying the impact of musical creativity on the complexity of visual images depicted by children. The possibly revealed correlation enables new ways for stimulating creativity in children regarding various aspects of life through music. 

Research Question

The study aims at identifying the relationship between the enhanced musical creativity and the artistic creativity, which defines its research question. Thus, the research question of the proposed study is “Does enhanced musical creativity affect children’s creativity in arts?” Therefore, the study aims at investigating the associations between developed musical and artistic creativity. Additional questions of the study are: “Are there any differences between the creative music and drawing patterns in children, which attended lessons in musical improvisation?” and “Will children with enhanced skills in musical improvisation demonstrate a high level of creative artistic thinking?” Moreover, the study investigates the extent to which the possible differences in artistic thinking might be presented.


The methodology of the suggested study should include valid approaches for the investigation of the correlation between the music and artistic creativity. One suggests that the study would have an experimental model operating with independent groups in order to assure verified and relevant academic approach. Additionally, the study should have a mixed form of research. This means that pre- and post-test phases should be qualitative, followed by the quantitative assessment of the results of the study and their further statistical analysis. 

Furthermore, the proposal suggests selecting the participants for the experiment. Thus, the participants should be 6-year-old children from a primary school formed in two groups of 12 students. They should be of the equal level of development and musical education. Moreover, the study suggests that the number of boys and girls should be equal in both groups. The proposed requirements are obligatory in order to assure the validity, and relevance of the experiment. At the same time, the children from the experimental group should have a half a year length of training in musical improvisation. The control group should have a usual academic musical program. Moreover, the experimental group should face lessons in creative art whereas the control group should have ordinary lessons of art. 

Additionally, the suggested study should have pre- and post stages of tests aimed at controlling the level of impact of the suggested program in arts. Furthermore, the independent variables of the experiment are skills in the subjects, which are not related to music or drawing, such as reading or mathematics. At the same time, the dependent variables are the speed of mastering new material in arts, the complexity and quantity of the drawings and the level of musical creativity. Such dependent variables are selected in order to track the cause and effect relationship between the analyzed phenomena (White, McBurney, 2013). One expects that the suggested dependent variables would correlate with the level of cognitive development of children, which is the result of the enhanced musical creativity. 

Potential Findings and Implications

One suggests that the potential findings of the suggested study should reveal the correlation between the enhanced musical and artistic creativity. Thus, the experimental group of the children is expected to have boosted cognitive skills and better reception of the material than the control group. Additionally, the study suggests that the children with enhanced musical creativity would demonstrate more complex drawings with more complex composition. Therefore, the potential implications of the experiment should reveal a strong correlation between the impacts of enhanced musical creativity on the level of mastering the material in arts. Moreover, the children with better skills in musical improvisation are expected to have advanced creativity of depicted artistic forms. Consequently, the study might demonstrate the impact of the development of musical creativity in children on bettering the other spheres of their cognitive activity.

May 15, 2019 in Communications
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