International Journal of Education & the Arts

Volume 5 Number 2

September 10, 2004

Is Music “Colorful”?
A Study of the Effects of Age and Musical Literacy on
Children’s Notational Color Expressions

Rivka Elkoshi
School of Music Education, Levinsky College
Tel-Aviv, Israel

Citation: Elkoshi, R. (2004, September 10). Is music "colorful"? A study of the effects of age and musical literacy on children's notational color expressions. International Journal of Education and the Arts. 5(2). Retrieved [Date] from

This eight-year study represents a pioneering effort to investigate color expression in children’s graphic notations at two stages of development: “Pre-literate” (age: 7.0-8.5), before students received school music instruction, and “Post-literate” (age: 14.0-15.5), three years after students acquired Standard Notation in school, and to consider the effects of age and musical literacy on notational color expressions. Two meetings with Israeli/Jewish schoolchildren were held along a course of eight years: The first meeting with 46 second-graders (1995); the second meeting with 33 ninth-graders (2003). Of these, 17 students participated in two meetings. All participants acquired Standard Notation in their sixth-grade. In each meeting, subjects performed a musical phrase called “Timbre”, represented it graphically and explained their notations. Seventy-nine notations were collected and analyzed by MSC (Morphological, Structural, Conceptual) method of interpretation (Elkoshi, 2000, 2002, 2004). Based on MSC, notations were classified under four categories: A (Association), P (Pictogram), F (Formal response), and G(Gestalt expression). Results show that the conceptual sub-division of the musical phrase into fragments (G) is color related, whereas the conceptual perception of the chronological sequence (F) is shape rather than color related. Associations (including Synesthesia) is probably age related. Post-literate notational color expressions were not affected by musical literacy.

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