The Importance of Music in Early Childhood

The media’s popularization of findings from studies indicating a causal link between music training and spatial reasoning in young children (Rauscher et al. 1993, 1997) has caught the attention of many and spurred interest in the inclusion of music in early childhood education.

Curriculum models that substantiate this point of view are credible; however, music educators need to remind decision makers about other valid reasons for teaching music in the early childhood curriculum.

The purpose of this article is to survey some of the work in music education that validates the inclusion of music for its own sake in models for early childhood learning.

Music is a way of knowing.

According to Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner (1983), music intelligence is equal in importance to logical – mathematical intelligence, linguistic intelligence, spatial intelligence, bodily – kinesthetic intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, and intrapersonal intelligence.

According to Thomas Armstrong (1994,5), “Intelligence is galvanized by participation in some kind of culturally valued activity and that the individual’s growth in such an activity follows a developmental pattern; each activity has its own time arising in early childhood.”

Making music is as much a basic life skill as walking or talking. Peery and Peery (1987) suggest that it is desirable for children to be exposed to, trained in, And enculturated with music for its own sake.

That is, it is a birthright for all people to be able to sing in tune and march to a beat (Levinowitz and Guilmartin, 1989, 1992, 1996). To ensure a comprehensive learning experience, music must be included in early childhood.

Practically speaking, the argument that music education is a frill finds no objective support.

The importance of music instruction for music development during the early years of childhood has been widely investigated since World War II.

The Pillsbury studies (1937 – 1958) (Moorhead and Pond, 1977) provided the first glimpse into preschool children’s musical lives and informed us about the nature of their spontaneous music behavior.

Characteristic music performances of young children provide a window through which music psychologists and educators can understand the sequence of the child’s developing music skills.
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