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We are all musical: the importance and potential of music

Raymond MacDonald Glasgow Caledonian University


Context • We are all musical • Every human being has a biological and social guarantee of musicianship. (Hodges, 1995; Trevarthen, 2002; Hargreaves, MacDonald and Miell, 2002


We all have a musical identity

What are musical identities? • •

Infant communication (Trevarthen, 2002) Musical taste (Zillman & Gan, 1997)

Musical ability (MacDonald, O’Donnell & Davies, 1999).


Music is a fundamental channel of communication

Musical Communication (Miell, MacDonald and Hargreaves, 2005 ) •

Music can facilitate: •

• •

the sharing of emotions, intentions, and meanings even though spoken languages may be mutually incomprehensible a lifeline to human interaction powerful physical effects and deep and profound emotions


Identities in Music • Individuals who are involved in musical participation develop personal identities that are intrinsically musical • The Identity of a “musician” is a Socially/Culturally defined concept


Identities in Music • Influenced by certain non-musical factors • Identity paradoxes • The family (Borthwick & Davidson, 2002) • The school (Lamont, 2002) • Jazz identities (Mac Donald and Wilson, 2006)


Sounds of Progress

Aims and objectives • To provide access to creative music and theatre activities • To facilitate integration between disadvantaged and non disadvantaged groups • To challenge stereotypes of disability • To create employment opportunities 7

Design • 60 participants • 20 participants in each of 3 groups: • Experimental group • Intervention control group • Non-intervention control group


Measures • Participants in all groups assessed before and after sessions on: • Musical ability • Communication skills • Self perception of musical ability


Results • Significant Improvements in: • Musical ability • Communication skills • Self perception of musical ability


A Qualitative Study • The social model of disability • A social constructionist view of identity • Experimental and observational research does not shed light upon more general beliefs, thoughts and feelings of the people who participate in music activities.


Semi-Structured Interviews • In-depth interviews with a small sample of participants (N=6). • Participants were all involved in SOP activities and had been for a number of years. • Interviews taped recorded and transcribed • Repeated listenings and and readings of data allowed for themes to emerge • Themes refined and checked using thematic analysis techniques (Denzin and Lincoln, 1998) 12

Theme 1 - Other people’s expectations • “I remember I used to go up in the ambulance up to the hospital years ago (.) and there was this old woman she was always complaining about her illness (.) we used to call her 57 varieties! (both laugh) She used to always say about me, ‘you know, he’s in a wee world of his own there’ (.) and you’re sitting listening! (both laugh) and you’re sitting listening ‘oh aye, I’m in a wee world of my own here!’ (laughs) (.) but there again, (.) that same old woman, I started a sing-song in the ambulance one time and she started to talk (.) she started to talk to me normally! (laughs) you know what I mean? (both laugh) so there you go […] she forgot about the ‘wee world of my own’ when I started the sing-song! […] The attitude changed.” 13

Theme 2 - Professionalism • like when folk came up and spoke to you, they weren’t giving you the sympathy vote any more, you know, you thought, (.) well (.) I must be, (.) I must be doing all right! You know! you didn’t get all that pat on the head and that ‘oh, that’s very good son’ […] maybe some would think (.) ‘oh, these disabled folk what can they, you know, what can they do?’ you know (laughs) …. but, I think (.) think they get rather a shock when they (.) when they hear us! …… then when things started to get a wee bit professional I thought ‘this can’t be bad!’


Researching the Arts in Scottish Education (RAISE) • Explore the views of teachers on a range of issues relating to the teaching of the arts in primary schools and the first two years of secondary schools. • Six Focus groups and 232 Questionnaires Delivering the Arts in Scottish Schools (2005) Wilson, MacDonald, Byrne, Sheridan & Ewing


How the arts are valued • Participants saws the arts as of fundamental importance • Schools were seen as a stronghold for the arts It’s important that every child in Scotland has a meaningful creative and aesthetic experience throughout their school career, from Primary 1 until they leave, and it should be core, it should be a core experience. 16

How the arts are valued • Less able to allocate equal priority to both arts and other areas the thing is with maths and language we’ve got to teach it, that’s we’ve not got a choice whereas, music or other… then it’s: just can’t do that this term.


Benefits of the arts • Growth in self confidence, self-esteem, social and communication skills, emotional intelligence, discernment and being able to articulate individual opinions. I say to my children that I can’t think of any job, any university course, any college course where drama will not help you, it will be vital for some things, it will help you in everything. And I also say to them that even if you were never to work in your life, you will still need these skills, you’ll still need to deal with your family, you’ll still need to deal with your friends, you still need to deal with officialdom… 18

Teaching the arts • The role of the specialist teacher In a way these are just two kind of two extremes …. we’re talking about very good high quality visitors, and places they can go; and we’re talking about the basic delivery of the arts and in between I’ve got this problem because many teachers are not happy and confident about teaching all four of the expressive arts areas. Sometimes one or two: they’ll tend to go through the motions a wee bit, ….. I think we need to improve the basic delivery of teaching of the expressive arts within the schools.


Assessment and accountability • Concerns regarding assessment in the arts you’ve got the head teacher breathing down your neck going, ‘But where’s that at level D? These are primary 6 children .. why are you doing sponge painting?’ …… if the inspectors come in here next month, then he’ll have to see this, and you’ll have to prove this, and it’s all about proving… 20

The value of improvisation • Evidence that teachers have significant concerns about how to teach creativity in general and improvisation in particular (MacDonald and Byrne, 2003)

• Improvisation is an under used musical resource in an educational context (MacDonald and Wilson 2006)


Current conceptions of improvisation

“Improvisation is the highest form of art” (Daniel Barenboim - BBC Reith lectures 2006)

“improvisation is a parlour trick; anyone can do it” (Willie Wonker - Charlie and the chocolate factory)

• Polyphony – Gartnavel Royal Hospital 22

An Empirical Investigation of the Anxiolytic and Pain Reducing Effects of Music

(MacDonald et al 2003)

• Music in medical treatments can be traced to the earliest reports of medical practice (Weldin and Eagle, 1991).

• 45% of respondents used music for pain management in hospital settings, (Michel and Chesky, 1996).

• Need for further research (Mac Donald & O’Donnell (1999) 23

Music and pain perception: study 1 • 20 participants in an experimental group listened to self selected music • 20 participants in a no music control • Pain and anxiety levels measured • All participants underwent a minor operation on foot


Music and pain perception 45


Mean Score on SSAI




Experim ental Control

20 Tim e 1

Tim e 2

Tim e 3


Music and pain perception: Study 2 • • • •

Experimental group a (n= 30 females) No music control group (n= 28 females) Both groups underwent a total abdominal hysterectomy. Pre and Post operative measures of pain, anxiety and patient-controlled analgesia were taken. • No differences between the groups were obtained on these measurements.


Music and pain perception: Study 3 (Mitchell et al in press) • 54 participants • 3 trials: White noise Anxiolytic music Preferred music • Dependent variables: Tolerance time Intensity rating of pain Perceived control rating 27

Tolerance times 180 160 140


120 100

Female Male

80 60 40 20 0 White noise



Significant differences: Preferred music greater than white noise p<.001and anxiolytic music p<.001 28

Pain rating on visual analogue scale 80




50 Female




20 10

0 White noise



Significant differences in females: Preferred music lower than white noise p<.001 and anxiolytic music p<.05 Anxiolytic music lower than white noise p<.001


Perceived control rating 140 120


100 80




40 20 0 White noise



Significant differences: Preferred music greater than white noise p<.001 and anxiolytic music p<.001 Anxiolytic music greater than white noise p<.05


Music and the brain • left brain versus right brain • The whole brain lights up like a Christmas tree Robert Fox director of brain mapping centre, University of Texas at San Antonio

• The Mozart effect • The brain that makes music is changed by it The cognitive neuro-science of music, Peretz and Zatorre 2003

• Neurologic music therapy Findings suggest that music can stimulate complex cognitive, affective and senorimotor processes in the brain which can then be generalised and transferred to non-musical therapeutic purposes. Michael Thault in Musical communication


Summary • • • • • •

Musical identities Musical communication Music and SEN Music in education Music and pain Music and the brain


Conclusions • Music is not a “magic bullet” or the “ultimate panacea” • But when utilised in a knowledgeable way it can have significant effects • Western society constructs an elitist image of “musicians” • “Music is the Healing Force of the Universe” BBC radio Scotland June 29th 11am 33

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and potential of music Raymond MacDonald Glasgow Caledonian University 1 • Every human being has a biological and social guarantee of musici...