The impact of music on self-concept: An investigation with deaf and hearing children using the Twenty Statements Test

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the role that music plays in the development of a Deaf child's self-concept. In addition, this study examined the difference in the perspective of music between Deaf and hearing participants in three learning environments: a School for the Deaf, an Inclusive school with a Deaf education program and a Public school without any exposure to Deaf culture. Participants (N = 94) consisted of three analysis groups: the combined group of Deaf participants (n = 27), hearing participants in an Inclusive school (n = 30) and hearing participants in a Public school (n = 37). Each group was administered two surveys. The first survey, titled the Twenty Statements Test (Kuhn & McPartland, 1954), asked participants to provide twenty different responses to the question “who am I?;” the second survey, titled the Music Is survey (developed by the researcher), asked participants to provide ten different responses to the question “what is music?”. The responses in each survey were then coded to evaluate statements that had a positive, negative, or neutral connotation. As well, surveys were qualitatively evaluated to investigate references to music in the Twenty Statements Test, references to Deaf identity, and other qualitative trends in the data. The results indicated that there were no significant correlations between the tone of statements made on the Twenty Statements Test and tone of statements made on the Music Is survey for Deaf participants. However, there was a significant moderate correlation between positive statements on the Twenty Statements Test and neutral statements made on the Music Is survey. As the mean frequencies of positive self-concept and neutral music statements seem to align between the Deaf and hearing participants, it is speculated that replicating this study on a larger scale could produce similar correlation results for the Deaf participants. It was also found that the frequency of participants who made music-related statements was similar between all Deaf and hearing groups. As well, results revealed that Deaf participants tended to make significantly more neutral statements on the Music Is survey as compared to hearing participants. A qualitative investigation into this observation indicates that Deaf participants tended to use concrete definitions of music, as compared to hearing participants in the Public school that tended to use abstract definitions for music. It was also found that hearing participants in the inclusive environment tended to use more concrete definitions as opposed to abstract definitions for music, paralleling the findings of Deaf participants in this study. A comparison of Deaf participants from the school for the Deaf and the inclusive school revealed a similarity between the mean number of positive, negative, and neutral statements made on both the Twenty Statements Test and the Music Is surveys. While 27% of Deaf participants at the school for the Deaf referred to Deaf identity, all the Deaf participants in the inclusive school made reference to Deaf identity. As well, several hearing members of the inclusive class referred to Deaf identity as part of their results. It was concluded that school location and proximity to Deaf peers appeared to have a significant impact on the nature of the responses made on both surveys administered, and that the quality of Deaf participant definitions of music are far more informative than the frequency of positive or neutral comments. The results of the survey demonstrated that emerging Deaf identity and music identity are not mutually exclusive. Future research should consider the examination of these Deaf identity trends on a larger scale, as well as investigating the qualitative meaning behind the expressed definitions of music, Deaf identity, and the self.

Self-concept, Self-esteem, Music, Deaf, Deaf culture, Special education, Identity, Twenty Statements Test