Relationships among personality types, timbre preferences, and choice of instrument by beginning band students in selected schools in southern Mississippi

Milton Leander Hudson


The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships among personality types, timbre preferences, and choice of instrument by beginning band students. Subjects (N = 109) were sixth- and seventh-graders from one elementary and two middle schools in southeast Mississippi. Testing instruments were (a) the Children's Personality Questionnaire ( CPQ ) published by the Institute for Personality and Ability Testing, (b) Gordon's Instrument Timbre Preference Test ( ITPT ), (c) a researcher-generated Student Follow-up Survey, (d) Instrument Preference Card, and (e) Director's Perceived Level of Progress in Playing Ability form. The study took place during the first nine-week grading period of the 2003-2004 school year. Comparison of the results of the CPQ to choice of instrument using analysis of covariance indicated strong relationships (p = <.05) of three personality traits and one second-order factor to six different instruments. Comparison of the results of the CPQ to the ITPT identified 36 significant relationships (p = <.05) involving nine personality traits and six timbre preferences. Results of ancillary questions indicated most subjects liked their musical instrument and thought it was fun to play, but less than half of them believed they would play it for many years. An equal number either believed or did not believe they could grow tired of their instrument. Most subjects were not influenced in their choice of instrument by family, friends, or media. Band directors were as likely as not to have suggested the choice of instrument. Most subjects indicated gender association and size were not influencing factors, but a majority indicated the instrument's sound influenced their choice. Insufficient instrument populations precluded reliable statistics for director's perceived level of playing ability. Recommendations were: (a) to conduct a similar study, but administer the test, questionnaire, and other informational instruments before subjects make their musical instrument choice; (b) to use a larger population of subjects, including more oboe, bassoon, French horn, baritone, and tuba players; (c) to renovate the ITPT ; (d) to urge beginning band directors to discern personality traits and timbre preference of students prior to selecting and assigning musical instruments; and (e) to investigate the high preference for tuba and Sousaphone timbre g , the minimal preference for trumpet and cornet timbre e, and the contrasting levels of choice of those instruments by beginning band students.