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Discovering the Musical MindA view of creativity as learning$
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Jeanne Bamberger

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199589838

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199589838.001.0001

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Children’s drawings of simple rhythms: A typology of children’s invented notations

Children’s drawings of simple rhythms: A typology of children’s invented notations

(p.15) Chapter 3 Children’s drawings of simple rhythms: A typology of children’s invented notations
Discovering the Musical Mind

Jeanne Bamberger

Oxford University Press

Given the findings from the children’s spontaneous drawings made by the 4th graders in the Wayland School, it seemed important to inquire into the robustness of the figural–formal distinction that was emergent from their notations. Pursuing this idea, the music teacher in the school, Miss L. Sperber, and I asked children in grades one through six during their regular music classes to clap and to make notations for six different rhythms. The procedure was as follows. Miss Sperber clapped each of the six rhythm patterns in turn, for each one she asked the children to clap it back, and then (learning from the children in the original 4th grade class) she asked them to “Put something on paper so you could remember it tomorrow or someone else who isn’t here today could clap what you just clapped.” After completing their drawings of all six rhythms, the children were asked to clap each rhythm again and this time to add to each drawing “some numbers that seemed to fit.” In addition to the children in the Wayland School, Eugene Buder, then a student in the Graduate School of Education at Harvard, worked individually with pre-school children between the ages of 3 and 5. These youngest children were asked to clap and draw only two rhythms. Altogether we were able to work with drawings from 186 children. Analysis of the drawings confirmed the stability of the original figural–formal distinction. However, with the larger sample, versions of the basic distinction emerged among the younger children (aged 3 to 7) as well as among the somewhat older children (aged 10 to 12).

Keywords:   rhythm, teaching, structure, drawing, notation

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