So far there is hardly any published research on the development of musical abilities across the teenage years. Hence, we simply don’t know how memory for melodies, a fine ear for singing in tune or rhythmic abilities develop during this period. This is very different from other areas of development (e.g. memory, intelligence, personality) where developmental curves have been documented in the empirical literature. Similarly, we don’t know how general cognitive abilities, personal strengths and difficulties or attitudes towards learning and studying relate to musical training and musical abilities. Finally, it is yet unclear who benefits most from musical training and opportunities within and outside school and whether music is a domain where disadvantages in other areas can be compensated for.
Hence, the LongGold project pursues two primary aims:
- Document the development of musical abilities across the period from 10 to 18 years, including melodic and rhythmic memory, intonation perception, pitch imagery, musical emotion recognition, harmonic processing, etc.
- Use the longitudinal data to construct models to describe the co-development of musical, cognitive, psycho-social and personality development. With the help of these models we want to identify any causal relationships between musical abilities/activities and development in those other areas of development.
This approach will also help us to answer questions such as
‘Can we predict who will take up music seriously during their teenage years and who will give it up again?’
‘Who will benefit most from instrumental lessons?’
‘What is the effect of musical training on students’ self-concepts, their attitudes towards learning, and school grades?’
‘Does music help to cope with emotional difficulties and to foster a pro-social attitude?
‘Is music special in terms of its positive effects or do you get the same benefits from sports or theatre playing?’