Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 705–718 | Cite as

The Motivation for Learning Music (MLM) questionnaire: Assessing children’s and adolescents’ autonomous motivation for learning a musical instrument

  • Gilles ComeauEmail author
  • Veronika Huta
  • Yuanyuan Lu
  • Mikael Swirp
Original Paper


The purpose of this study was to examine the psychometric properties and construct validity of The Motivation for Learning Music (MLM) questionnaire, designed to measure the autonomous motivation of young music students. Based on Self-Determination Theory (Deci and Ryan in Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior, Plenum, New York, 1985), the instrument consists of five subscales, each assessing a different type of motivation: intrinsic motivation, identification and integration, introjection, external regulation, and amotivation. We studied 337 child–parent pairs, with 257 of the children studying piano, and 80 studying violin. The children were age 6–17. The item pool was administered to the children, and various construct validation measures were administered to the children and/or their parents. For the final MLM, we selected 5 items per subscale, based on their psychometric properties and a desire to adequately cover each content domain. Each subscale formed a distinct component in principal components analysis; the questionnaire performed well in confirmatory factor analysis; the inter-correlations of the subscales had a consistent simplex pattern; and all subscales had alphas above .80.


Motivation Music lessons Music instrumental pedagogy Self-determination theory 



This study was carried out at the Piano Pedagogy Research Laboratory at the University of Ottawa. We thank the many students of the laboratory for their contribution to the data collection, especially Nisreen Jardaneh, Yifei Liu, Karen Gerelus (formerly King), Andrea Yau, and Samar Abi Nasr.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Music, Piano Pedagogy Research LaboratoryUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Piano Pedagogy Research LaboratoryUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.School of PsychologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

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