Competition has existed since the beginning of time. Competition, in various forms, has seeped into our schools, classrooms, peer groups, and homes. It continues to have diverse effects on child development and the nature of pedagogy. It is within this context that the researcher examined the effects of including a competitive goal structure as part of ongoing voice instruction in a private voice studio.
The purpose of this study was to examine the nature of competitive and non-competitive goal structures as related to perceptions of self-esteem, musical achievement, and performance attributes in young singers. The development of self-esteem, musical achievement and performance attributes are important elements of general musical growth and development. To this end, sixty voice students participated in this study during the 2000-2001 academic school year. These students attended Take Note Music School. In Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. Students ranged in ages from nine to sixteen and were divided into two age groupings. These two groups were equally sub-divided and randomly placed into a competitive (ranking, rewards and standards based) or a noncompetitive (non-ranking, participation only) goal structure.
Over a period of seven weeks, students were asked to prepare an accompanied solo piece for performance in a music festival setting. All participants maintained a guided journal for seven weeks prior to the festival and one week following the festival. Additionally, eight students and their parents were randomly chosen to participate in a private, individual interview, scheduled after the performance experience. All 60 students were adjudicated and presented with a written evaluation of their performances. All student participants completed a post-festival attribution survey immediately following their festival experience. Data, collected through the four data collection methods (journals, post-attributional surveys, adjudications, and interviews), were then identified and categorized in the following areas: perceptions of self-esteem, perceptions of musical achievement, performance attributes, and goal structures.
The results of this study showed that for the students who participated in this experience, perception of self-esteem is linked to student perceptions of musical achievement, and performance attributions (effort, ability, luck, task difficulty). Student perception of self-esteem also contributes to the type of future goal structures in which students would engage (competitive, non-competitive). Results also indicated that students attributed success in music festivals more to ability and effort than to luck or task difficulty. Students attributed failure in music festivals to effort and task difficulty. Studentsí preferences for future competitive or non-competitive goal structures were not significantly related to the type of goal structure they experienced in this study.
From this study it was concluded that: (1) Competitive goal structures affect student perceptions of musical achievement; (2) studentsí perceptions of self-esteem are related to their perceptions of musical achievement and (3) competition does not necessarily produce increased perceptions of self-esteem or superior levels of musical achievement in voice students.