Musical Development as a Cognitive Ability

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Musical Development as a Cognitive Ability

Cognitive Psychology

Abstract

This paper discusses theories of cognitive development and its relationship to musical development. Cognitive development is closely related to musical development and learning. Jean Piaget developed theories of the cognitive development in children. Musicologists have developed theories on how musical development has cognitive components. Cognitive development is acquired through interaction with an environment, just as musical development is acquired through interaction with a musical environment.
Jean Piaget on Cognitive Development Cognitive development is the investigation of how mental skills build and change with increasing physiological maturity (maturation) and experience (learning) (Sternberg, p.444). Cognitive development involves qualitative changes in thinking, as well as quantitative changes, such as increasing knowledge and ability (Sternberg, p.444). Most cognitive psychologists agree that developmental changes occur as a result of the interaction of maturation (nature) and learning (nurture) (Sternberg, p. 444).
According to Sternberg, despite the differences in theoretical approaches, there are some basic principles that that crosscut the study of cognitive development (Sternberg, p.446).
First, over the course of development, people seem to gain more sophisticated control over their own thinking and learning. As people grow older, they become more capable of more complex interactions between thought and behavior. Second, people engage in more thorough information processing with age. Third, people become increasingly able to comprehend successively more complex relationships over the course of development. Finally, over time, people develop increasing flexibility in their uses of strategies or information. (Sternberg, p.446)
He explains that as people grow older they become less bound to using information in just a single context, and they learn how to



Cited: Sloboda, J.A. (1985) The Musical Mind: The Cognitive Psychology of Music. Oxford Psychology Series No. 5. Clarendon Press, Oxford. pp. 194-215. Sternberg, Robert J. (2003) Cognitive Psychology. Thomson-Wadsworth. Third edition. pp. 444- 449. Swanwick, Keith (2001) "Musical Development Theories Revisited". Music Education Research, Vol.3, No.2.

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