CHILDREN'S INVENTED NOTATIONS OF FAMILIAR AND UNFAMILIAR MELODIES


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Abstract

This paper describes several ways that 50 children between the ages of 6 and 9 notated two melodies: one familiar and one unfamiliar. As expected, they demonstrated the ability to use a variety of different symbols. Perhaps more important, many children made use of more than one type of symbol, depending on the context set up by the task, demonstrating that they had a number of symbols at their disposal. The notations were classified in terms of type of symbol used (e.g., icons, discrete marks, words), and attention was given to the kind of information notated by the child (e.g., pitch, rhythm, mood). The “success” of the notations (i.e., whether the melody could be reconstructed from the notation) was not considered for all of the notations, although some examples of successful and less successful notations are given. The expected knowledge of the reader of the notation is discussed. Finally, the need to examine children's understanding of notation in the context of teaching standard notation, and in terms of other music abilities, is stressed.

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