The phenomenology of flow in young piano learners and video gamers

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University of New Brunswick


The researcher used phenomenological inquiry to compare and contrast experiences of flow in young piano learners as they practiced the piano and played video games. While not all participants experienced flow, they had more flow-like experiences in video gaming than in piano practice. Video game experience included mortal danger and death, as the technology forced them to pause and repeat actions that had led to mistakes. They saw piano practice more as work than play and did not expect to experience flow in practice. They experienced limitlessness in video gaming as the technology guided them from one challenge to the next; piano music on the page was finite and static by comparison. Digital tools to aid music students in home practice should position piano practice as work rather than play but could include game-like elements such as: mortal danger by not tolerating mistakes; and limitlessness by doling out challenges sequentially.