Summary of Calicchia’s article.
In her article, “To ‘Play That Funky Music’ or Not: How Music Affects the Environmental Self-Regulation of High-Ability Academic Writers,” Sara Calicchia made the claim that writers are affected by their environment when writing and that music can play a part in their writing. She says, “Writing is a complex task demanding highly refined skills in problem solving, goal setting, and proper transcription and translation so that knowledge may be passed on effectively” (Calicchia 1). She later goes on to say that there are three different categories of self regulation, “…personal processes (including mindset and mood), behavioral processes, and environmental processes, including physical and social setting. Experienced writers who have developed self regulation take special care to create an environment that is socially and physically motivating and favorable to the writing process, creating an ‘environmental structure’ customized for their own writing needs” (Calicchia 2). This adds to her claim only in relation to self-regulation, as she describes how one regulates the environment that affects them after some time presumably from her text. Later on, she goes through her methodology and choice of participants, choosing people who write often. Those people included nine professors and three students. All twelve participants specialized in different areas of study and writing. Calicchia focused on the professors more than the students following the methodology section. She talks about the effect that music has on writing in the professor’s’ opinions. As I expected, the professors’ answers ranged from music being a distraction, to music being a white noise that drowns other noises out and allows concentration, to music being beneficial to writing. Going back to methodology, Calicchia asked a total of 21 questions in her study and used five of them as real evidence for her argument. She tied the connections that the students and professors had to music to the way that they answered how music affected their writing. She concluded that music does have an affect on one’s environment but not necessarily their self-regulation, as that is up to their personalities. “The results of this study seem to suggest that music affects the writing process of all or at least most writers, but that is this influence (positive or negative) varies on an individual basis.” (Calicchia 11).
Comment on Evidence within the Article
I have a comment to voice referring to Calicchia article that may sound as if I am attacking her. Much of her evidence is unnecessary to the claim or repetitive. She often says the same thing in different ways throughout her paper and she lists the sixteen questions that proved irrelevant and never goes anywhere with those other sixteen questions. Calicchia takes up a lot of room in her article about what areas the participants come from and where they stand. You only need to mention the places where the participants stand twice. The first time would be in Participants (of which is the third section in her article). The second time would be in her eighth section Importance of Musical Background on Writing as she talks about how the participants were connected to music. Again, it is only needed twice at most.
Then, in other places, it is almost like she did not put enough unpacking to her claim about how music affects an academic writer’s self-regulation. She talks about self-regulation in the second section Review of Literature but that does not tie into how music affects one’s self-regulation. Then, she speaks about how “…writing with or without music playing, provided me with three general trends of preference:
- Music is a distraction and silence is necessary for writing.
- Music can be used as “white noise” to block distractions such as voices.
- Music can be used to create a positive mood and a sense of calmness.” (Calicchia 6).
How do those two ideas play into each other? I do not quite understand from the way that the title claims to tie them together while the essay does not really do that.
I understand where Calicchia is coming from, wanting to have multiple sources about how music affects a writer’s writing but there is a way of saying more with less. She has repetitive evidence that she does not touch on the topics deeply enough for the reader to understand why she made those points. She then does not tie the two halves of her claim together in a way that the reader can understand either. These two factors make it seem as if Calicchia is droning on about what many already know, as I had thought on my first re-reading of the article. This is my comment, now let us go to my response.
In Addition to Ms. Calicchia Argument.
Ms. Calicchia makes a fair point of different people being affected by music in different ways when it comes to writing, but music can also affect the writer. Different genres of music can have different effects on how people feel when they hear those specific genres.
Let me unpack that idea. Different genres of music are supposed to bring catharsis as different emotions and that can play into what a writer is doing. For example, an upbeat song is often one that makes you feel good, one that gets you up and moving. Then, there is another song that is sad and slow. It makes you feel sad. Writing is supposed to do this to, bring catharsis, and as a writer writes, the song they hear can affect their mood. A writer’s mood can then affect their writing as they go on with what they want to say. A writer wants to, as Calicchia says, “…elicit a response in readers, and he suggests that writing while listening to and truly feeling music is the only way to make this become a reality.” (Calicchia 3). I agree with this statement but wished to add to it. Music and writing both bring catharsis and the catharsis of a writer affects their writing, in my opinion, making the writing achieve catharsis in a similar way.
In conclusion, I do not mean to insult Calicchia when pointing out how her article has a few flaws and I wished to add on to her argument. Calicchia uses repetition far too much through her article and she does not tie the two halves of her claim together. I wish to add that not only does music affect the environment, but also the writer and that the environment affects the writer as well.
Calicchia, Sara. To Play That Funky Music or Not: How Music Affects the Environmental
Self-Regulation of High Ability Academic Writers. Young Scholars In Writing.
Volume 11. Issue Number Unavailable. 2014. Pages 1-11.
If you want to read the article that I responded to go to young scholars in writing and type the title in.