The objectives of this study are to explore the depth of the emotional responses triggered by different pieces of music in a group of primary aged school children, and to explore the key causal factors behind the specific responses. This research is comprised of three parts. First, the design and development of an experiment to be conducted with groups of children that will generate the necessary data. Second, the running of the experiment with five groups of three to six children, aged between seven and eleven years old, at Brisley Primary school in Norfolk. Third, the analysis of the data collected in relation to existing research on the psychological connection between music and emotion. The main aims of this research are to identify the impact music has on children’s emotions, what influences contribute most to their responses, and what pieces of music trigger the greatest scale of response. It draws heavily on the theories of emotion and music set out by previous research by Contrada (1991), Piaget (2003), Juslin (2001), and Russell (1997). However, it builds upon these findings by applying the connected theories exclusively to the emotional and musical development of children.
While the experience of emotions are part of every human’s daily experience, they also have a neurological foundation that involves the stimulation of the limbic part of the brain. In addition to emotions, the limbic region is also responsible for learning, memories, and motivation (Givens, 2014). Neurochemicals produced in the brain drive the differing responses, and the relative production of these chemicals in response to different personal experiences drive these emotions (Damasio, 1998). Although the experiment conducted in this research does not involve neurological analysis it is useful to frame our understanding of emotions in this way, as it establishes it as a scientific way of study, as well as physiological and psychological, which this research focuses on.
The first three chapters explore aspects of music and emotion, individually and together, and how they develop in children. Chapter four will focus on the experiment, which includes the hypothesis and elements of research such as the collection of music from a music and emotion database (Eeurola, 2018), and selecting the key emotions. The final chapters include the results, discussion and analysis, and conclusions gained from the experiment and research.
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