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Department of Cognitive Science

Seminar Abstract

Musical engagement and emotional regulation: Formal music training and active music-making as influential factors.

Speaker : Ms Elizabeth Kinghorn, Don Wright Faculty of Music, University of Western Ontario, USA.
Date : 29th of November 2017, 11:00AM until 12:00PM
Location : Australian Hearing Hub, 3.610, Macquarie University.

    Musical engagement has been identified as an effective and widely employed strategy for the regulation of affect, particularly among young people (Lonsdale & North, 2011). The relationships among emotionally-directed musical engagement and prior musical learning and experience, however, have yet to be explored in depth. This research aims to examine the strength of both formal musical training and active music-making as predictors of the propensity to use music to meet emotional needs. The MUSEBAQ questionnaire (Chin, Coutinho, Rickard, & Scherer, 2017), designed to explore relationships between musicianship and motivations for engaging with music, was administered to undergraduate students age 17-24 (N = 470) at a mid-sized Canadian university. Participants provided information about prior formal musical training as well as frequency of active music-making. Personal tendencies regarding musical behaviors related to emotional self-regulation were also reported. Regression analysis revealed that our overall model, incorporating both active musicking and formal music training as predictors, was significant (p < 0.001). However, assessment of individual predictors revealed that in our sample, formal musical training was not a significant predictor of the tendency to use music for emotion regulation (p = 0.325) when frequency of active music-making was controlled. Frequency of involvement in active music-making, however, was found to be a significant predictor (p < 0.001) when level of formal training was controlled. While prior research has often focused on formal musical training as the most important predictor of musical behavior, these results suggest that other elements of musicianship may be more significant in certain cases. This presentation will discuss results and advocate for a broader conception of musicianship within this field of study.

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