Graduate Research Papers


Open Access Graduate Research Paper


Improvisation (Music); Musical ability in children; Music--Performance;


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate if second-grade children could develop a solo improvisation on an Orff xylophone. Participants were five African-American children who attended a model school that followed an inquiry-based approach curriculum. These children also had a chance to learn music from a faculty and the researcher, who had been exploring constructivist methods of teaching music, with a special emphasis on invented songs, instruments, and notations. The three-day study focused on how children were able to create a solo improvisation. The study was guided by the following questions: (1) Can second grade children develop improvisations on a song they have just learned? (2) What kind of improvisations do they develop? (3) Can second-grade children analyze their own improvisations? If so, how do they describe them? In order to analyze their level of musical complexity, a coding, based on Music Educators National Conference (MENC) K-4 performance standard, was developed to analyze the progression of children's improvisation. Children's interviews, done immediately after the improvisations, were transcribed and analyzed to demonstrate children's reflection. The data revealed that all children could improvise. Those who played and improvised other songs in the classroom embedded those songs in their improvisation. Implications are provided for researchers and teachers in the field of early childhood education.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Linda May Fitzgerald


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Date Original


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