Monday, May 2, 2011

Discipline as the Reason for Music? Where we Went Wrong...

“Building Discipline, Motivation and Socialisation”


This article, which appeared in Orbit: OISE/UT’s Magazine for Schools (Chasins, 2000: 19-21) discusses the disciplinary benefits of music instruction. According to Chasins, the discipline that students acquire through private music lessons leads to future successes in various other dimensions, during that student’s life, and is a valuable skill. Specifically, the benefits have been noted from the students’ participation in private music classes or ensembles. These situations are important learning experiences that teach individuals social and personal disciplinary skills.

Discipline, in the case of this discourse, is not a behavioural consequence such as in the punitive sense, but rather a type of mental of physical training. It can be imposed from an external source, such as a teacher, conductor, or private-lesson instructor or it can be internal. Internal discipline is referred to as self-discipline, and it is the most productive, as it involves the subject making a choice to do something, as opposed to an outside disciplinarian forcing the action. Although external forces of discipline are required at times to correct problems or reinforce certain behaviours, they are best to be kept at minimum; excessive external discipline can reduce one’s development of self-discipline.

Chasins argues that music promotes the acquisition of students’ self-discipline and motivation for four main reasons:

    1. music, as a form of communication, evokes an emotional response in individuals of a variety of ages;
    2. music is made of logical structures of sound;
    3. music requires participation in an active way; and,
    4. music incorporates a plethora of potential group activities.

The melodic and rhythmic structure of music is always in motion, allowing it to captures and contain one’s attention, engaging the listener, actively. The engaging action of music is the element that facilitates a students’ development of discipline. Based on music’s ability to easily educe and hold one’s attention, it is more effective at teaching these skills, as compared to other subjects, and it requires little attention to rules or other contributing elements. As well, music can be understood across many cultures, making it a “universal language” (2000:19) that appeals to all ages and diversities. It is often possible to hear a story or narrative that is ‘told’ by a piece of music, making it attractive and interesting to many individuals, and promoting an intense focus. Many of the communicative properties of music build discipline.

The logical structures of sound that characterise music are: the finite length, which presents a clear goal to a student, and, the internal, musical structure of any song.

There are a variety of unique musical elements that combine to create any given musical work, which are suited to fit a multitude of learning styles, and allow a song to be deconstructed and learned in shorter components. These aspects of music provide many ways of teaching, creating a thorough learning experience for any student, and facilitate the development of disciplinary skills.

Throughout the remained of the article, Chasins describes the implications of music-learning on other subjects. Emphasis is placed on the disciplinary skills that are then used and applied, by students, in other areas of their educational career, and lives. Essentially, learning music requires one to tackle material of an appropriate technical difficulty, and then selecting the best method possible to learn the piece. Learning typically occurs through mastery of small sections of the music, which requires one’s application of self-discipline. With a students’ mastery over a section or piece of music comes a feeling of success and achievement, thus motivating the student to continue to learn and work. Skills of self-discipline are then transferrable to other scholarly subjects and daily situations, and optimally, the same form of success will result.

Music’s importance in its facilitating of disciplinary learning justify the inclusion of music instruction within a school-wide curriculum. Chasins notes: “on the basis of music’s capacity to enrich life through its intrinsic beauty, and on the beneficial effects on brain fuctions” (2000: 21), our schools and families should remain committed to the study of music, especially due to the recent evidence of its additional disciplinary benefits.


Although Chasins’ article contained several valid assessments of the benefits of music, I am disheartened to read yet another item which is dedicated to justifying the benefit of music based on its ability to teach another skill. While music does help to enhance the development of one’s self-discipline, I do not wish to have this be the only reason for its inclusion in our school curriculum. Rather, I argue that music should be taught in schools and in other extra-curricular settings for the benefit of learning music, and not for its ability to enhance another skill. As a music educator who is highly concerned with maintaining, and even increasing, the interest and importance of a strong school music program, I argue that the support towards music education is being misdirected. Our advocacy must be redirected and revised.

In a three-page article, Chasins referred to the “instrinsic beauty” (Ibid) of music, implying its teaching as a means to an end, only in the closing paragraph. Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow is referenced on the second page, briefly, but, it is done so to explain how one accomplishes goals. The rest of the article was spent pleading with readers over music’s potential to build discipline in students. This is not the original reason why people enjoy music and why music was created. Music was developed as a way to communicate, and to express human emotion through a means that is not possible in any other way. Such can be said for dance or art. These two artistic domains do not require justification over-and-above their intrinsic nature, yet often, we feel that music needs to be explained, and continue to do so to facilitate its inclusion in our schools.

As schools continue to make cutbacks within their music curriculum, it is apparent that these methods are proving unsuccessful. It is necessary that educators and advocates of music, alike, recognize music’s inherent potential and allow it to speak for itself: music for the sake of music should be the new direction in our rationale for the indispensability of school music.

Works Cited:

Chasins, Margaret. “Building Discipline, Motivation, and Socialisation.” Orbit: OISE/UT’s Magazine for Schools, Vol. 31 (1), 2000. 19-21.

Music Performance Anxiety: New Insights from Young Musicians

“Music Performance Anxiety: New Insights From Young Musicians”


The debilitating condition of music performance anxiety (MPA) is a severe condition that affects musicians at both amateur and professional levels. Many investigations surrounding the anxiety levels of adult and college level musicians, have been conducted, however, few studies have involved children. Kenny and Osborne, in their 2006 publication “Music Performance Anxiety: New Insights from Young Musicians” (2006: 103-112), summarized their recent research involving young performers’ anxiety, and compare this to the experiences of adults. In their report, they address many similarities in that exist between children and adults’ perceptions of MPA, and suggest reasons to address this problem earlier on, to prevent the condition from worsening over the course of the subjects’ career.

The authors reference Barlow’s (2000) three-dimensional model of anxiety to facilitate an understanding of performance anxiety. He proposes that the development of anxiety has three main components:

    1. biological component
    2. psychological component resulting from past experiences and life histories
    3. specific psychological component as a result of various environmental stimuli associated with behavioural conditioning.

Although Barlow emphasizes that genetics and lived experiences could account for general anxious conditions, the third component has shown evidence of specific phobias or anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder. Study results show that social evaluative situations can trigger emotions that are associated with danger or threat. Performers who have experienced environments of high expectations but low support, are more likely to experience MPA. Once the emotion is triggered, a subject will enter into a state of negative self-perception that leads to a disruption of concentration. These behaviours are symptomatic of MPA, and similar to those of social anxiety and social phobia. The severity of anxiety felt by the performer will be directly related to the subjects’ perceived level of threat.

To compensate for the lack of empirical research which addresses MPA in adolescents, Osborne & Kenny developed the Music Performance Anxiety Inventory for Adolescents (MPAI-A) (Osborne & Kenny, 2005: 725-751). Using this scale, data was obtained from 381 young musicians in an evaluation of their perceived MPA. This Likert-style questionnaire contained 15 questions which measured the factor structure, internal reliability, construct and divergent validity of the MPAI-A.

Results showed that girls possessed higher levels of MPA, despite the boys’ increased display of anxious behaviours before and during a performance. A relationship was also seen between the development of formal operational thought (Piaget, 1970) that occurs in the shift from childhood to adolescence and the trends in MPA.

Obsorne & Kenny (2006: 107-108) reported that American adolescents with less advanced musical training perceived lower levels of MPA than adolescents from Sydney, Australia, whose musical skills were more highly developed. Those students who performed less technical works had reduced MPA, compared with students who performed more technically demanding music. This suggests the possibility that as one’s level of experience increases, as does the expectation of one’s success. Additionally, students who answered “No” to the inquiry of becoming a professional musician also displayed heightened MPA. Based on this data, it can be assumed that high anxiety levels could be responsible for a subjects’ rejection of a career in performance. Both hypotheses highlight the need for the development of preventative and anxiety-management strategies for young musicians.

Reflection/ Implications for Music Education:

As a performer who has always felt significant musical performance anxiety (MPA), I found this article to be one of interest and importance. I spend my teaching hours working with young children, between the ages of 6-12, in our private piano lessons, and often see symptoms of anxiety displayed by my students. Through my years, I have made a point to become more conscious and aware of the behaviours of my students within a musical context, as well as in their academic, personal, and social environments. Having a thorough understanding of the responses and the external stimuli that my students are experiencing on a day-to-day basis, helps me to assess their musical responses and learning styles.

As indicated in the article by Kenny 7 Osborne (2006: 103-112), I have often paid little attention to the possibility of MPA in children. In my approach to my young students, I expect to witness eager musicians unafraid of making mistakes and unencumbered by fear of performance or anxiety. I assume that these feelings develop in adolescence, as students become conscious of their peers and social pressures become more dominant and controlling. However, reflecting on my own teaching experiences, citing the behaviours of students who I assumed ‘just didn’t want to play’, I can see the anxiety that exists in a musical environment, and is mirrored in various other contexts. This awareness has proven to be much more successful in developing a relationship with my students, and I have witnessed greater achievements within the lessons.

I have and am continuing to adjusting my teaching style to be more supportive and non-judging, and to encourage and create a safer learning environment for these students. My standards and expectations remain high, but there is less emphasis on mistakes and errors, and more emphasis placed on the proficiencies in students’ playing. Opportunities for performance by supportive others and peers are becoming more frequent, to prepare and acclimatize musicians to these situations, and to make them appear more natural, and thus, less of a threat to the students. Correspondingly, I see my young musicians becoming more comfortable with playing in front of others, they are taking more musical risks during their lessons, and they are in turn, enjoying the music making opportunities, playing for fun more often.

Educating ourselves on MPA in children and adolescents is a necessary step in the development of strategies that will prevent and reduce this condition in young musicians. If this anxiety disorder can be lessened at an earlier age, the severity of MPA in adulthood will be correspondingly reduced. Moreover, by incorporating teaching practices that minimize symptoms of MPA, there is great potential for fewer students’ abandoning music as they shift from childhood to adolescence, and then into adulthood.

Works Cited:

Kenny, D. T., & Osborne, M. S. “Music Performance Anxiety: New Insights From Young Musicians.” Advances in Cognitive Psychology, Vol. 2 (3). 2006. 103-112.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Summary: What Are Musical Identities, And Why Are They Important

In the collaborative work entitled, What Are Musical Identities, and Why Are They Important, written by Hargreaves, Miell, and MacDonald, the primary discussion is based on the idea of music as a fundamental means of communication. The authors state that music provides the ability to communicate, even though there no spoken language shared; and it also provides the necessary lifeline to human interaction for those with special needs.

As a young student in elementary school, I often volunteered my musical abilities by performing the piano for local senior recreational centres. On the surface, the music provided entertainment, but on a deeper level, the music was a catalyst for communication. Through sharing music, I was permitted the opportunity to interact and converse with the participants on a much deeper level; the music destroyed in potential barriers due to culture or age.

Another identity, in which music is described, is that of a tool to create experiences. Due to the advancement in technology, these experiences have become more diverse than any time in the past. In the area of consumer marketing, music is utilized to create a mood to increase sales in shopping venues. As an example, a trendy clothing store will attempt to make a quick sale by making an insecure shopper feel young, alive and vivacious by creating the ambience with the latest playlist by Lady Gaga at high volume. There is much psychology in music.

Hargreaves, Miell and MacDonald report that the objective of the music psychologist is to investigate the multifaceted ways in which we engage with music-creating, performing, listening and appraising- and try to explain the mechanisms underlying its powerful influence on behavior. Music in the context of social psychology is to investigate the effects of particular listening and performing/composing situations as well as cultural standards and norm.

From my experiences, I am able to view music as a multi-layered entity with diverse applications and identities in society. I have had the opportunities to apply music in the following manners in my practice as a music therapist:

• As a tool induce and deepen the state of relaxation
• To create an atmosphere which is conducive for memory stimulation
• Music as an instrument for teaching basic learning objectives

What I have been able to grasp from this reading is that music has the capabilities to function as a means to alter mood, as well as to create an environment; however, it is unable to determine the experience of the listener.

A keen supporter of music research and psychology, I believe that with further comprehension and acceptance as to the true powers of music, music will once again obtain the credibility which it once possessed long ago.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Teamwork in the Music Room – Ellen Criss, MENC Sept. 2010


The article opens with an example of school athletic culture and a band director who is wistfully dreaming of a similar one in their classroom. In both aspects of teamwork, there is an emphasis of the team over the individual, and the article further sites practical applications for this type of team work in the business world.

When comparing the two activities (athletics and music) the author finds many similarities. One is that in both cases students tend to score higher on achievement tests and have higher GPA’s. This is due to the individual’s commitment to the group through the specific role they play. Both groups need to play or perform their abilities for others and produce a product out of a common goal. But the author also notes that teachers need to encourage and foster this behaviour as student performers need to be taught how to work together for this goal.

Teenagers long to be part of a group and music educators need to be aware that many of them with join band or choir to feel like part of the group rather then for musical experiences. Students are intellectually, psychologically, emotionally, and socially nurtured when they join a performing ensemble because of the formation of subcultures within the group.

The article offers ideas that can be used to build these effective musical teams. One is creation of a shared experience between all members, regardless of their reasons for joining the group initially, by letting members have a save in the group decisions. Another is the emphasis of collaborative effort and the presence of a sense of community. This can be achieved by treating each member of the group with fairness and accurate assessment through mentoring or team leaders.

If the ensemble has an honest and constructive atmosphere then students can begin the emotionally support one another with positive peer pressure about commitment to rehearsals. The connection between the individual members leads to the overall team identity. Team identity involves many facets, such as loyalty, team activities, motivation, and transmission of tradition. The article encourages team interaction outside of the rehearsal time to help create the unique identity of the ensemble.


I enjoyed reading this article because I find many students do not see the immediate connections between sports and band. As an educator I fully believe in both and therefore always try to organize my rehearsal time around the sports’ schedule at my school. I do not want to have students choose between band and sports and if the conflict ever arises, I want them to be able to approach both their conductor and their coach to work out a solution. We need to model the interdepartmental relationships between sports and band by talking to our colleagues and working out a solution that benefits the students.

The values of teamwork are so apparent in sports because you can visually recognize the common goal. If the goal is to get the ball, we can see players running for it and achieving that goal. Unfortunately in band, we often do not see the perfect articulation within the phrase or the level of concentration from all the students who are working on that goal. It’s not as easily accessible to spectators. So I liked when the author wrote about setting common goals in band because it gives the students ownership and pride in achieving them, even if the audience does not always understand when they have been reached.

I like that the article emphasized the importance of identity building within the ensemble and that it needs to be created by the students themselves. As a band conductor, I find there is a delicate balance between allowing students room to experiment and make decisions with support and encouraging them to push beyond their current abilities.

Commitment is a large problem at my school (not just in band) as students seem to just “forget” about rehearsals or practices despite reminders. It is a lot more beneficial if students use the author’s idea of “positive peer pressure” to create the culture of commitment within the ensemble rather then the teacher reprimanding the students’ for their absences.

I think this is also why festivals and performances outside of school is so important as it makes students accountable for their actions within the ensemble. It also, as the article points out, further creates the culture within the ensemble where students can trust each other and have fun. Teamwork is a valuable life skill this article has shown that it can be taught in school, whether in sports or band.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

“Sharing Musical Instruments Not Always Healthy for Kids” March 16th, 2011 – Andrea Gordon, Toronto Star


Oklahoma State University researchers examined 13 brass and woodwind instruments shared by school students and discovered micro-organisms linked to asthma, skin infections, and other illnesses and allergies. Their results were published in the journal “General Dentistry”.
Researchers took swabs from 117 sites on mouthpieces, internal chambers and cases. They found 442 different bacteria, including species of staphylococcus, 58 types of mould and 19 yeasts, similar to what’s commonly found on dentures, athletic mouthguards and toothbrushes.
According to anecdotal reports from the teacher, half the band students at any given time had experienced respiratory ailments like asthma or bronchitis. The music staff at the Toronto District School Board were not available to comment, but a St. John’s Music retailer emphasized the importance of keeping the mouthpiece clean and disinfecting the instruments in between uses. They also encouraged parents to purchase their own mouthpieces.


I think parents and music educators alike need to look at this article in context and with a little perspective. Firstly, this article is lacking a severe amount of information to make this a credible source. Where is this school? Is it an elementary or secondary school? How often do the students play the instruments? How many students per instrument? Do they already have a method for cleaning the instruments in place? And if so, what is their current practice?
Why is it that music practices are attacked but not other subjects? Why are there no studies comparing the amount of bacteria found on music instrument mouthpieces to other areas in the school, say the student desks where they eat their lunch or the sports equipment used in the gym?
Reading this critically, I find myself questioning the motives of this article. Firstly, why write it at all? Ideally we would think it is to inform the public of possible hazards in the music room, but if this is the real agenda, then why don’t they explain what precautions are being used by music educators to prevent further problems in this field, other than encouraging students to purchase their own mouthpieces?
Also, who benefits from this article? We would like to think the students would, considering the article expresses the need for music education, yet the article does not include the students’ voices. They do not present a view from someone who is experiencing what goes on in the music room but they do include a statement from St. John’s Music retailer encouraging parents to purchase students their own mouthpieces.
So finally we need to ask the most important question, and that is who is the intended audience of this article? It is presented in a public forum and needs to be written in a form that is accessible to most readers. So the article is directed of parents/guardians of students in music classes and ultimately it is encouraging parents to take an active role in supporting music education in their schools by using scare tactics and unsupported statistics.
What does this article mean for music educators? I think the teachers in the Toronto District School Board made the right choice by not commenting for the article. Some may read that as fear or lack of ability to argue against the topic, but I think it demonstrates the lack of validity in this article if they are not even going to bother to respond to the questions. Music educators should be prepared though. This article could prompt more parents/guardians to phone the music teachers with questions about the sterilization practice in the music classroom. Hopefully this will not adversely affect the students’ musical experiences in and out of the classroom and educators will be able to continue teaching without unnecessary interruption.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Implications for Enhancing Creativity (T. Amabile)


Creativity is often regarded as a skill, and often misleads many to believe they “lack” or “entail” this component. Teresa Amabile’s chapter on enhancing creative suggests that every human “entails” the creativity component, it is the stage that is provided for them that causes one to believe whether or not he/she has the ability. A simple task such as “brainstorming” is one of the most popular and widely known methods, which in fact has proven to enhance creativity in a human mind. Amabile examines creative-training programs, describing the benefits that these programs can provide for young learners when they interact with one another. Composed of two portions – generation of idea and evaluating the idea, brainstorming suggests an opportunity for individuals to find their ideas. Moreover, brainstorming as described in the article is one of the few methods that allow for everyone’s opinion to count, to matter and not allow for criticism in the moment. It is through the process of brainstorming, that good ideas form, and furthermore, are put into account for. It is after completing the process that will deduce a product. Thus, Amabile argues for Alex Osborn’s brainstorming theory, suggesting that brainstorming allows quantity to stir up quality in the end. Though brainstorming may not always produce the best solutions, it is definitely analyzed as one of the most strategic solution applicable to stimulating creativity in a subject area.

A group process known as synectics developed by William Gordon provides an opportunity for ideas to be thought through, make happen, tested, re-thought, re-made and re-tested. In this process, the creative component is more noticeable, as individuals require careful thought towards the subject discussed. Furthermore, it is necessary for the individuals to comprise their own ideas towards the subject matter in order to provide different point of views. Amabile analyzes and suggests that this procedure not only allows for more emotions to be incorporated, but also stimulates greater directions in the end. Using four stages of personal, direct, symbolic and fantasy analogy, synectics allows for one to be placed in different perspectives of the subject, stimulating more creative elements throughout the process. Yet to be researched on the level of effectiveness, synectics suggested by Amabile can be a useful method applicable in the classroom.

Amabile provides a further analysis of studying creativity via experimental groups that were tested. The two groups analyzed studied the same material; however one was controlled while the other was not. Results not only proved that uncontrolled participants showed significant increase in their level of originality as well as flexibility.

Issues raised in Amabile’s article hint that creativity requires a suitable space for individuals to train and develop on. For instance, many creative programs put emphasis on cognitive procedures, where the focus falls on methods and rules that lead towards generating new ideas. In this case, creativity from a social psychological perspective becomes more limiting. Given the option of “choosing” plays a huge role in a child’s level of creativity, those that had a choice have showcased elements of higher creativity, while those who had no choice, produced less. As well, the concept of “modeling” also has shown through certain particular studies that will improve creativity in individuals. The question then becomes, which methods are most affective for teachers in the classroom?

A section on implications and music education provided by the author, suggests many applications teachers can select from. The first and basic factor is to provide the appropriate atmosphere and environment for creativity to occur, having special programs and/or materials handy for those who showcase special “talents”, can provide a leeway for creativity to be developed even further. Setting aside time in the classroom for “discovering” and identifying is a crucial step, hence Amabile’s suggestion on “quantity” over “quality”. Allowing students the opportunity to explore and find their ideas and answers should be allotted into lessons in order for creativity to develop. Allowing interaction and providing encouragement in the “field of” creativity should be consistent throughout the classroom, so that all students have equal amount of chances to develop their creative mind.


In the later portion of Amabile’s chapter on creativity, the author stimulates many interesting points towards how to teach, rather than what to teach. From an educator’s standpoint, this is an important aspect, and technically speaking, a component of creativity – in which quantity should be applied in the classroom from time to time, instead of focusing on quality. In order to avoid children’s creativity steering in the wrong direction, Amabile provides several reminders, including focusing on intrinsic elements, rather than the extrinsic motive. Students (and parents) are often misguided and simply read final grades in report cards and assessments, comments and the process always seem to be neglected. Through the lens of Amabile’s perspective on creativity, I see the consequences if quality were put as the main focus.

Amabile suggests the more control framed on creativity, the less effective it will be in the end. I definitely see truth in this statement, because creativity is one of the most difficult components to frame a ‘grade’ on. Often, it is purely up to the individual’s mind set, as well as what he/she may be thinking throughout the process of brainstorming and developing their final thought. Similarly speaking, music’s field of ‘improvisation’ seems to fall under the same roof in which it is often very challenging to judge whether or not a piece of improvised music is ‘creative or not’? Yet, improvisation allows for an individual to explore, apply brainstorming ideas to, and ‘evaluate’ from different perspectives whether or not his/her ideas followed through. In this situation, the idea of quantity is applied first, rather than looking at the final product itself.

I think this is an element that requires a lot of balancing in the classroom, for a classroom still requires a structural framework. However, once a teacher neglects the idea of creativity, quality has fully taken over quantity. I say this because creativity is a component that eats up time and requires planning on the teacher’s behalf. In many situations, it may be disregarded in order to keep up with scheduling and curriculum demands. Thus I say it requires strong classroom management and proper balancing techniques. Amabile suggests however, the consequences in the long run should creativity be neglected. This can close up doors to many individuals, especially those who show lack of confidence to begin with. In other words, teachers should be more considerate when planning around their lessons, in order to accommodate all different learners in their classroom, fitting creativity as an “essential element” into their lessons.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Summary: Music, Talent and Performance, A Conservatory Cultural System

In the book by Henry Kingsbury, Music, Talent and Performance: A Conservatory Cultural System, I have chosen to focus on the chapter, The Parables of Talent.

The chapter opens with the phrase, "The linking of esteem between the person attributed with talent and the person or persons making the attribution leads to an observation that bears on the positive value placed on being "talented", the notion that talent is a "gift" to be envied or coveted." Kingsbury continues to elaborate on this idea, by insisting the moral obligations of musical development. The young person's talent is an attribution which demands development which benefits not only himself, but the community in which he is affiliated.

What does this statement mean? How does one relate the aforementioned information to one's personal experience and talent?

I see these comments as the introduction to my own personal realization of the "burden" of living with the label TALENT. Along with my ability to gracefully interpret great works on my major instrument, the piano, I soon also realized that with great "talent" came much responsibility. The ability of my younger self to confidently perform the works of Chopin was environmental, I was born into a musical family; however, my skills were reinforced by my long hours of practice. Once my true ability was realized by my family, the constant pressure to perform before random visitors to our home or at church increased; I received threats that God would take away my talent IF I refused to perform. Kingsbury states that from the Western biblical perspective, a musician's "talent" can be seen more as a property which belongs to a "cultural ideology" than as a property or characteristic of the individual.

Kingsbury writes that the manifesting and assessing of musical talent are greatly influenced by social powers and authority. He provides the examples of the college-aged student who has the opportunity to audition before the "critical ears" of teachers or who participates in a recital with highly competitive peers; these are considered, resources for the situation. These resources include the support and encouragement from the student's teacher, the student's general social maturity, and the music-technical and emotional preparation for the performance. Kingsbury concludes that the student may perceive this situation as adverse, nevertheless, that student has access to resources for dealing with these situations.

Drawing from my own experiences, I too see talent to be influenced by social powers. When I began to study piano, "formerly", at the age of 6 years, my music course commenced as the other first-graders in my teacher's home-studio; however, what distinguished my progress greatly from my colleagues was the fact that my family, who too were musically trained, were heavily involved in my music studies. These social powers, as referred to by Kingsbury, my family/community, provided the resources for further development as a musician, to eventually surpass the skills of my peers.

The other spectrum of talent, according to Kingsbury, comes from the numerous accounts of adults who experienced negative encounters with music as children. Due to the lack of support, these "untalented" adults, report themselves as "unmusical". However, Kingsbury believes that everyone has the capability to make music; the creation of music can be as simple as humming, while waiting for a bus.

Those granted permission to "participate" in music making is extremely subjective and selective. Society decides what music is and who can participate, creating parameters of what is considered, as appropriate for "human consumption". I, as a piano instructor, observe various levels of abilities; however, I also understand that ALL students need encouragement to help them reach their own potential, independent of the skills possessed by other students.

In short, the label of "talent" is an ideology ascribed by society, without the acknowledgment of a student's background, sufficient access to quality music instruction, a supportive environment, and finances. These resources, in my opinion, are factors which assist in shaping and directing the young mind and ability for future success.