Musical Development as a Cognitive Ability Essay

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Musical Development as a Cognitive Ability

Cognitive Psychology


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
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Piaget further proposed that with increasing learning and maturation, both intelligence and its manifestations become differentiated- more specialized in various domains (Sternberg, p.448).

Piaget believed that development occurs in stages via equilibration, in which a child seeks balance (equilibrium) between both what they encounter in their environments and what cognitive processes and structures they bring to the encounter, as well as among the cognitive capabilities themselves (Sternberg, p.448). Sternberg explains that in some situations, the child’s existing schemas are adequate for confronting and adapting to the challenges of the environment; the child is thus in a state of equilibrium (p.448).

However, at other times, the child is presented with information that does not fit with the child’s existing schemas, so cognitive disequilibrium arises; that is, the imbalance occurs when the child’s existing schemas are inadequate for new challenges the child encounters (Sternberg, p.449). In this type of situation the child attempts to restore equilibrium through assimilation- incorporating the new information into the child’s existing schemas (Sternberg, p.449). In contrast if the child is not able to assimilate the new information s/he will go through a process of

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