UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE)

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Name of Author: 
Ho, Pauline Sook Kuen
Thesis (M.Ed.) National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Chong, Sylvia
Year of completion: 

Talent development is a complex process entailing a dynamic interplay of many factors. While previous researchers emphasized a single causal factor for talent development, researchers now recognized that the attainment of high level of abilities is attributed to how multiple factors interact with one another to influence talent growth. In the context of music, much of the research literature has focused on matured pianists who have attained adult professionalism. Little research has been conducted on the musical experiences of young adolescent musicians who are at a transitional stage to investigate the factors that affect their talent growth as they unfold. This study focused on an in-depth investigation of the musical development of an outstanding young pianist - Abigail Sin. Using Gagne's Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (2003) as a conceptual framework, this case study documented the musical experiences of her talent growth and examined the intrapersonal and environmental catalysts underpinning her musical success. A myriad of perspectives were used, including the child, her parents and her teachers to find out how their actions, beliefs and perception on talent development shaped and impacted her identity, experiences and life choices as a musician. In phase 1 of the project, the researcher designed preliminary surveys using Gagne's DMGT as a guide and mailed to the child and her parents. The preliminary surveys provided demographical and background information to form a backdrop for the interviews in phase 2. The in-depth interviews for the child and her parents were designed to draw out intrapersonal and environmental factors supporting the child's musical development. In phase 3, secondary data in the form of phone interviews with her teachers were conducted and historical archives of news articles on Abigail Sin, her concert programmes and reviews collected for triangulation purposes. When all the sources of information were completed, the researcher assessed and examined the information using a five-step coding process to uncover the emergent themes and patterns. A summary table of the key domains, significant key statements and meaning units was drawn up to represent a composite profile of the participants' perceptions of Abigail Sin's talent development. Findings from the study indicated common themes about music talent development process, such as the extent of parental support, their beliefs and attitudes towards talent development, teacher quality, opportunities and provisions, as well as the child's personality and motivational level. These findings are crucial in determining whether talent unfolds. Research is conducted to better understand the factors that can affect a young talented musician and inform educators and policy makers to make informed decisions in their planning, implementing and evaluating of comprehensive programmes for students who are gifted in music. The study provided information which can assist schools, educational organisations, and parents to help these young people realize and fulfill their talent potential.

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