“We are keen to know how music can help prepare children for primary school and to test to see if skills in numeracy and literacy of pre-school age children are improved because of music making activities.” Youth Music
I have posted up the full report as well as the conclusions, which make for very interesting reading...
Conclusions (in brief):
- This type of music experience supports development in communication and language skills and understanding...
- The regular contact with the musicians supports the children’s mathematical development of skills and understanding...
- Through the provision of an enhanced music learning environment and regular contact with a musician the children’s musical development has been enhanced and improved...
- The music projects have had an impact on the children’s emotional, social, physical and cultural development. It has also supported the children’s development of a sense of self.
- These projects have enabled EYWs to work closely with musicians and for both sets of professionals to learn from one another.
- The music projects have had a positive impact upon the parents and carers who have been involved in the music sessions and for many parents and carers whose children have been involved.
In drawing together this research we have reached a number of conclusions about the impact of investing in musicians working within Sure Start and Early Excellences Centres. From the findings we have concluded that regular weekly or bi weekly contact over a two year period between a musician and very young children (0-5) does impact on several areas of these children’s development.
A. This type of music experience supports development in communication and language skills and understanding particularly in:
• Increased amount and quality of vocalisation developed through singing activities
• Increased vocabulary
• Development of understanding of rhyming through singing
• Increased ability to listen and respond to spoken instructions in connection with a musical activity • Learning how conversation works through ‘call and response’ activities
• Development of greater control of their voices through learning to pitch notes – high and low – and pitch match (sing in tune)
• Increased ability to tell their own stories through creating their own songs
B. The regular contact with the musicians supports the children’s mathematical development of skills and understanding in:
• Counting within music-making supporting counting in live maths situations
• Sequencing in counting songs
• Sequencing and patterning in explorations of instruments and sound-makers
• Learning basic addition and subtraction
• One to one correspondence in finger and counting games
C. Through the provision of an enhanced music learning environment and regular contact with a musician the children’s musical development has been enhanced and improved in:
• Singing in-tune
• Timbral quality - children have attended to the timbral quality of various songs according to the cultural and expressive nature of that song.
• Developing their own songs and playing with the form, tune and words of familiar songs
• Improved technical skills in sound production with improved hand-eye co-ordination
• Demonstrating expressive quality in their exploration of sound makers/instruments with a sense of musical purpose
• Developing personal ‘taste’ in music
• Increased ‘attentive listening’
• Greater concentration span
Assessments of these very young children’s musical, mathematical and communication and language development in this study have provided much important data that will inform further work in this area. The profiles devised for this project were designed to mesh with the Foundation Stage Profiles that are now used in this sector of education. Further refinement of this type of profiling is needed to look very closely at the transfer of cognitive development between:
• music learning and mathematical learning; and
• music learning and communication and language learning; for the very young children between birth and three years of age.
D. The music projects have had an impact on the children’s emotional, social, physical and cultural development. It has also supported the children’s development of a sense of self.
E. These projects have enabled EYWs to work closely with musicians and for both sets of professionals to learn from one another. The projects have supported the EYWs to gain (or increase) an understanding of appropriate music practices for young children, and to develop the EYWs own skills and practice in this area. The musicians new to working with very young children have learnt about child development and ‘play’ approaches to learning from the EYWs. This joint, cross-sector professional development was particularly welcomed and valued by all the professionals involved; they felt they were enabled to be more effective in supporting the children's learning.
F. The music projects have had a positive impact upon the parents and carers who have been involved in the music sessions and for many parents and carers whose children have been involved. These impacts are:
• A sense of pride in the progress of their child
• Sharing their knowledge about their child with the musicians and the researchers created a feeling of being part of their child’s musical development
• A wish to support their child when they have seen how engaged they are in music
• Opportunities to explore music, make sounds, sing and learn new music ideas whilst with their child in sessions
• Opportunities to connect and discuss with other parents
• Opportunities to engage in training and to lead their own music sessions
• Development of confidence and competence levels
• Getting reassurance about what constitutes music with little children
• Having something to share as a common activity with their child
In addition, there were 3 key findings relating to establishing future good practice:
G. Virtuous circle. Speeding up of the rate of progress when new entrants are introduced into regular functioning and confident music groups for very young children. This relates to both the children’s rate of progress in music and to the carers. The reasons given for the speed of progress have been attributed to the regularity and clear framework/structure of the sessions and the development of the relationship between the musician, EYWs, parents/carers and the children.
H. Musicians as a focal point. Whilst many EYWs already provide regular music experiences for the children the enhanced music environment is more productive and has a higher impact on the children’s learning in music if there is a musician visiting regularly. The two roles are seen as complementary. Regular contact with a musician in each early years setting is significant in supporting the musical opportunities of these very young children. The interpersonal skills of the musicians were crucial in developing partnerships within these early years settings. The importance of having a musician available on a regular basis is now considered so important by the projects involved that they are actively seeking ways to fund a full-time post for a musician to provide regular music sessions across the Sure Start settings and to support the EYWs’ training needs and help them to plan an enriching music learning environment for the young children.
I. Impact of having parents and carers involved with the children in the music sessions. This has greatly enhanced the children’s music development as the carers are directly involved with what the child has been introduced to and the parent/carer and child have a shared experience to continue to develop beyond the music session.
The projects have had an immense impact upon the parents and carers that have been involved in both the parent and toddler groups and on those whose children have been receiving sessions with the musicians. Some parents and carers enrolled on the music training programme devised by the Great Yarmouth team and accredited by the Open College Network. These parents and carers wanted to develop their understanding of music with the birth to five year olds and to gain credits at level 2. Three of these parents have gone on to set up their own music groups. These opportunities enhance the possibilities for parents and carers.