Character Development in Music Making: Understanding How Songwriting Can Develop Character
So, Justina Mei Yin
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Music is often used by its advocates as a vehicle to promote positive changes in students, academically, emotionally, and socially (Catterall, Chapleau & Iwanaga, 1999; Fiske 1999). In this study, I examined the implementation, in my own public elementary classroom, of a five-month Character Really Matters! songwriting program that I developed. The study is designed to provide insight into the potential impact of such songwriting music programs on students’ character development. The study examined the connections students made between the songwriting program and their lives. The data for this study were derived from a guided student reflection form used as a normal part of teaching. To provide further elucidation of the impact of the songwriting program on students’ character development, I supplemented the reflection-form data with my direct classroom observations using field notes and a character-tracking checklist. Findings from the research revealed connections between songwriting and its impact on developing children’s work habits in collaboration, cooperation, commitment to quality work, and in turn, character development. By writing songs, students were able to tell stories and reflect on their learning from their songwriting experiences. The findings from this study inform the justification and improvement of the program and contribute to the school board’s body of evidence used to examine its character education program.