Many individuals play an instrument or sing during childhood, but they often stop later in life. This study surveyed adults representative of the Swedish population about musical activities during childhood.
We asked 3820 adults (65% women) aged from 27 to 54 from the Swedish Twin Registry, who took extra music lessons to those provided at school, to fill in a web-based questionnaire. Factors analysed were the age they started studying music, the instrument they played, kind of teaching, institution and educational content, number of lessons and perceived characteristics of the lessons, the music environment during their childhood years and their preferred music genre. All variables were dichotomised.
Factors strongly associated with continued playing or singing were male sex, young starting age, cultural family background, self-selected instrument, attending music classes and more than once a week, church-related or private education, pop, rock or classical music, playing by ear and improvisation.
Several significant predictors determined whether a child continued to sing or play an instrument as an adult and many could be externally influenced, such as starting at a young age, taking music classes more than once a week, improvisation and the type of music they played.