The question of why children and adolescents are motivated to learn and play an instrument is examined. The basis for this study is the so called self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2017). The SDT assumes that differences in motivational regulation are constructed on a continuum from autonomy to control. Self-determined forms of motivation are supported by satisfying the psychological basic needs for autonomy, competence and social relatedness. They are regarded as essential not only with respect to SDT, but also play a decisive role in the whole of motivational research (e.g. Krapp, 2005). Previous studies, especially in educational settings, show that research on the basis of SDT has tended to concentrate particularly on teaching and learning at school. Learning settings or rather learning outside of school, for example of a musical instrument, has thus far been somewhat neglected. In order to explain motivational behavior when learning an instrument, aside from the support of basic needs in music lessons, an autonomous parental educational style and the attitudes of the peer group towards learning and playing a musical instrument are considered. This is especially noteworthy, since there are hardly any findings available that explicitly involve the peer group and the parental educational style as a predicting variable for motivation. Data from a survey study (N=856 music students from Austria) were analyzed using linear and multiple regression analyses. The results demonstrate that, in addition to the learning environment (support of the basic needs), the peer group and the parental educational style can also explain a significant variance of motivation. Robust variance is also shown for the parental educational style in explaining controlled motivation, and the attitudes of peers concerning learning an instrument and music lessons in self-determined motivation. In addition to regression analyses, a cluster analysis was also carried out to find out whether motivational profiles can be generated from the data obtained. The results of the cluster analysis show that four qualitatively differentiated motivational types can be found.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-Determination Theory: Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation, Development, and Wellness. New York, London: The Guilford Press.
Krapp, A. 2005 The concept of fundamental psychological needs. An explanatory approach for the positive effects of well-being and intrinsic motivation in teaching and learning processes. In: Journal of Pedagogy 51 (5), p. 626-641.