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Student Motivation In Piano Learning


  • What study report is this? (Record a full reference citation.)

Cheng, Z., & Southcott, J. (2016). Improving students’ intrinsic motivation in piano learning: Expert teacher voices. Australian Journal of Music Education, 50(2), 48

This is a case study report written by Cheng and Southcott (2016).

2)Who is the investigator? Include personal history, particularly as related to the purpose, participants, or site of the study.

The report is written by two investigators: Zijia Cheng and Dr. Jane Southcott. The two of them done and continue to do research in music. Cheng has already earned a Bachelor’s degree in music performance. She is an experienced piano teacher who understands the role motivation plays in teaching music. On the other hand, Dr. Southcott has done extensive research on the history of music in three different countries. She is the president of an association that carries out research in music education. The interest that this investigators have in music could be the main reason that prompted them to study how piano teachers stimulate motivation among  their students.

Student Motivation In Piano Learning

3) If made explicit, what type of qualitative research is this? Is the author working from a feminist, Marxist, interpretivist, symbolic interactionist, critical theorist, or other vantage point?

This is a descriptive qualitative research design where the authors seeks present the views of teachers on ways to improve the intrinsic motivation of students learning piano. The authors are working from interpretivist point. Apart from the fact that they are experienced piano teachers, the two researchers have used additional human subjects namely the three teachers that were interviewed to gather data. Moreover, the research involves extensive interviews in addition to observations, which are both a characteristic of interpretivist point of working.

4) What is the purpose of the study? What are the focusing questions (if any)? Is the purpose primarily theoretical, practical, or personal?

The study seeks to determine ways in which three experienced piano teachers stimulate motivation among their students.

5) Where does the study take place, and who are the participants? Describe the general physical and social context of the setting and salient characteristics of the main actors. If this is not a field study, describe the setting and participants presented in the secondary data source.

Although the article does not mention where the study takes place, it is clearly stated that the participants are all experienced piano teachers. Each of them has spent more than 20 ears training students.  Both are committed to reflective learning and teaching practice. One of the participants is named Rosie. Apart from teaching piano for 26 years, she affiliates with the Australian and New Zealand Cultural Arts Music Examinations and the Australia Music Examinations Board (AMEB).  The second participant is named Margaret and has more than 40 years of experience in teaching piano. Additionally, she has a diploma in international concert. The last participant is named Valerie and has been a teacher of piano since 1960s. She affiliates with London College of Music.  Although this is not a field study, the authors have cited extensively from credible secondary data source giving the views of the three interviewees validity and strength.

6) In what sequence did the major elements of the study occur? Describe (or diagram in graphic format, such as a flowchart) timing, frequency, order, and relationships used in organizing the study.

Student Motivation In Piano Learning




Single case study: Improving Students’ Intrinsic

Motivation in Piano Learning:

Expert Teacher Voices


Analysis and presentation of the results
Data collection through interviews
Participants that accepted the invitation


Invitation letters send to a large number of piano teachers
Approval obtained from Human Ethics committee Human Ethics committee
Selection of























7) How were data collected? Was recording done through observation and fieldnotes, taped interviews with transcription, document analysis with record forms, or some combination?

Data was collected through interviews. Although not explicitly stated in the report, this was probably taped interviews given that the authors have pointed out that participant’s direct quotations have been excluded from the text.

8) If this was a field study, what was the author’s role while collecting data?

The author’s role would be to find out ways in which piano teacher motivate their students to learn piano.

9) What procedures were used for analysis of data? Was constant comparison used, were categories developed inductively, were themes constructed, was computer software employed?

Analysis of the data collected involved presenting different strategies that the three participants deemed appropriate when motivating students. Although the authors did not use constant comparison of these strategies, they constructed themes each of which served as a heading of interest. However, computer software was not used in the analysis.

10) What were the results? In general terms, what is the answer to the question, “What was going on there?”

Based on the teachers’ responses, a wide range of strategies are involved in maintaining student motivation. Personalized instruction, practice advice, and organizing concerts for students are ways to motivate them. Undertaking examinations is also an effective way to motivate students. Moreover, all the three interviewees agreed that students are best motivated by teachers that serve as their role models.Student Motivation In Piano Learning

11) How are design or research methods used to enhance the credibility (trustworthiness and believability) of the study?

The researchers have relied on different secondary sources of information and multiple data sources by using three interviewees to gain a deeper understanding about improving the intrinsic motivation of students by teachers. The authors of the article have used several data sources but sticking to the same method of data collection. Additionally, the researchers shared the data collected, themes developed, interpretations made, and conclusions with participants allowing them to verify the accuracy of the information presented.

12) What parts of the study did you find powerful or particularly instructive? What was moving or striking, and what provided new insight?

From the article, I have learned that while students who have been forced by their parents to learnt piano tend to give up, those who willfully learn and play piano simply because they find it enjoyable tend to have stronger intrinsic motivation. They are also likely to have an inherent motivation to continue learning piano throughout their life. I found it striking that learning piano is not the same as learning other subjects or courses because while many of young children are forced to starting attending school by their parents, they end up embracing education and pursue it to the end. The chances of giving up are minimal. On the other hand, however, a child that is forced to learn piano is likely to give up. The contrast between the two circumstances is indeed striking.