The purpose of this study was to measure the ability of kindergarten children to successfully perform a rhythmic ostinato while one or two additional rhythmic patterns were simultaneously occurring and a song was being sung. Factors considered in this measurement were the success of the children in relation to the complexity of the task, the performance levels of boys versus girls, the performance levels of the participants based on the amount of music instruction they received in the school where the study occurred, and the performance levels of those children receiving private music instruction in relation to those without private music instruction.
The 32 children in the study were tested individually in the Fall and in the Spring. They were asked to perform a series of eight tasks during each test. The first task was to perform a steady beat alone speaking the word “tap.” Task 2 required performance of a steady beat in concert with a song. Task 3 and Task 4 required performance of a speech ostinato first without and then with a song. In Task 5 and Task 6, the children performed the speech ostinato in concert with a divided beat pattern both with and without a song. In Task 7 and Task 8, the speech ostinato was performed in concert with a divided beat pattern and a metric accent pattern both without and with a song. In the Spring, the tasks remained the same except for Task 7 and Task 8. In these tasks the children were required to perform the ostinato on a drum while a divided beat pattern was performed on claves both without and with a song.
Preparation for the testing occurred during the week of the test when the children were taught the materials and led through the process of the test. Class time between testing periods was used for the regular curriculum, incorporating the skills being tested, but not the actual materials of the test.
Results of the study showed that the students were able to perform many of the tasks very successfully with significant (p <.05) levels of improvement from Fall to Spring on some tasks. Significant (p < .05) correlations occurred between tasks grouped in pairs without and with the song and in cross-task comparisons in the Fall and Spring tests. The results of this study suggest that Kindergarten children perform more successfully alone than in an ensemble setting with parts that are independent of their own, that Kindergarten children respond differently to musical stimuli, and that layering activities in succeeding tasks does gradually add levels of difficulty to those tasks.
Significant (p < .05) differences were also found between performances of the all-day class and the afternoon class and performances of girls and boys. No significant differences were found, however, when comparing the various amounts of school music instruction in relation to performance level, or when comparing the performance levels of the children receiving private music instruction and those without private music instruction.