Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education
The National Review of School Music (2005) listed retention in elective instrumental music programs as a key area to be addressed. For example, around 10,000 students commence learning an instrument each year in Western Australia, but only around 3% annually complete the examinable post compulsory music course which contains a large instrumental component. Research from other subject areas suggests that the largest drop-out from any elective program occurs in the first year of secondary school. This paper reports on a study into the impact of the instrument lesson upon the motivation of Year 8 students to continue their elective instrument studies beyond the first year in secondary school. The study examined the values and . competence beliefs of 48 instrumental students across seven secondary schools in Perth. It was based upon the belief that students have a well developed understanding of their rnotivation for being involved in an instrumental music program, and strong beliefs about learning an instrurnent. The study found that while Year 8 student values for playing an instrument appeared relatively stable, competence beliefs were fragile. Students in their first year of secondary school were effectively 'in transition'. Playing an instrument was generally described as fun and personally important, but most students indicated a need for a high level of encouragement from their instrument teacher. The study concludes that interpersonal relationship and attendant instructional practices in the instrument lesson are unique, and there are strong pedagogical implications for teaching students of this age.