The Science of Early Childhood Music

Feb 06, 2022

Independent Studies Showing The Benefits Of Early Childhood Music Education


The Effect of Early Music Training on Child Cognitive Development



The relationship between participation in a structured music curriculum and cognitive development was studied with 71 4- through 6-year olds. Children were pre- and posttested with six subtests of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, fourth edition (SB) and the Young Child Music Skills Assessment (MSA).

Approximately one half of the sample participated in a 30-week, 75-minute weekly, parent-involved music curriculum. Statistical analysis showed significant gains for participants receiving music instruction on the MSA and on the SB Bead Memory subtest.

Four-order partial correlations analysis found musical treatment influence on Bead Memory scores when the participants were controlled for sex, ethnicity, parental education, and economic class. Treatment also produced higher scores on other SB measurements for select populations.

This study suggests a significant correspondence between early music instruction and spatial–temporal reasoning abilities.

Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology

Volume 20, Issue 4, December 1999, Pages 615–636



Relations among musical skills, phonological processing, and early reading ability in preschool children



SH Anvari, LJ Trainor, J Woodside, BA Levy – Journal of experimental child …, 2002 – Elsevier We examined the relations among phonological awareness, music perception skills, and early reading skills in a population of 100 4-and 5-year-old children. Music skills were found to correlate significantly with both phonological awareness and reading development.

Regression analyses indicated that music perception skills contributed unique variance in predicting reading ability, even when variance due to phonological awareness and other…

Anvari, S.H., Trainor L.J., Woodside J., & Levy B.Z. ( 2002). Relations among musical skills, phonological processing, and early reading ability in preschool children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 83, 111-130. , Google Scholar



Effects of an Integrated Physical Education/Music Program in Changing Early Childhood Perceptual-Motor Performance



Two approaches to facilitating perceptual-motor development in children, ages 4 to 6 yr., were investigated.

The experimental group (n = 15) received 24 sessions of integrated physical education/music instruction based upon concepts of Kodaly and Dalcroze. The control group (n = 15) received 24 sessions of movement exploration and self-testing instruction.

Analysis of covariance indicated that significant improvement occurred only in the experimental group, with changes in the motor, auditory, and language aspects of perceptual-motor performance as well as total score.

Brown, J., Sherrill, C., & Gench, B. ( 1981). Effects on an integrated physical education/music programme in changing early childhood perceptual-motor performance. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 53(1), 151-154. , Google Scholar



Effect of a Music and Movement Programme on Development of Locomotor Skills by Children 4 to 6 Years of Age



This study investigated the effect of a 10‐week music and movement programme on the quality of locomotor skills in children 4 to 6 years of age. Sixty‐eight children (35 boys and 33 girls) served as subjects.

The Test of Gross Motor Development (Ulrich, 1985) was used for the assessment of locomotor skills (running, skipping, galloping, hopping, leaping, sliding, and horizontal jump). Thirty‐five children participated in the exercise programme twice a week while the rest did not participate in any organised physical activity programme.

In the absence of significant differences between the two groups in the pre‐test, multivariate analysis of variance (2X2 Manova) with repeated measures was used for data analysis. The results revealed a significant measure X group interaction on galloping, leaping, horizontal jump, and skipping. From the comparison of groups’ mean differences it was shown that the experimental group had significantly greater improvement on the above skills than the control group.

It seems that a music and movement programme can improve significantly the quality of certain more complex locomotor skills.

Derri, V., Tsapakidou, A., Zachopoulou, E., & Kioumourtzoglou, E. (2001). Effect of a music and movement programme on development of locomotor skills by children 4 to 6 years of age. European Journal of Physical Education, 6, 16-25. , Google Scholar



Possible Effects of Early Childhood Music on Mathematical Achievement



Assuming that young children’s involvement in music programs provides a conceptual foundation for subjects such as mathematics, this study examined the impact of music education on mathematics achievement in preschool children.

A pseudo-experimental design was used in which 35 preschool children involved in a music program treatment were compared at school entry to 39 preschool children without musical experience. All children were from families with similar socioeconomic levels.

The music program was based on Kodaly techniques, sequenced to teach concepts of pitch, dynamics, duration, timbre, and form, as well as skills in moving, listening, singing, and organizing sounds. Children participated in one 1-hour session per week for 10 months. They were compared on the Test of Early Mathematics Ability-2 (TEMA-2).

Initial results indicated that the music group had higher TEMA-2 mean scores than children without musical experience. However, musical experience in the home and other pre-existing differences may have contributed to group differences. The experimental group was further divided into two groups, children with home music, and children with no music at home.

There were no differences in mathematics achievement between the comparison group and the experimental group without music at home. However, the experimental group with music at home scored higher in mathematics achievement than the experimental group without music at home.

Two home music activities were related to mathematics achievement: listening to their own music collection, and listening to a family member sing to them. (Contains 25 references.) (KDFB)

Geoghegan, N., & Mitchelmore, M. (1996). Possible effects of early childhood music on mathematical achievement. Journal for Australian Research in Early Childhood Education, 1, 57-64. , Google Scholar



The Effect of Music Instruction on Phonemic Awareness in Beginning Readers



The purpose of this study was to determine whether music instruction was related to significant gains in the development of young children’s phonemic awareness, particularly in their phoneme-segmentation fluency.

Beginning in January 2004 and continuing through the end of April 2004, each of four intact classrooms of kindergarten children (n= 43) from one elementary school were taught music by one of four advanced music-methods students from a nearby university. Kindergarten children (n= 60) at a second elementary school served as the control group.

An analysis of the data revealed that kindergarten children who received 4 months of music instruction showed significantly greater gains in development of their phoneme segmentation fluency when compared to children who did not receive music instruction, t=−3.52, df= 101, p= .001.

The results support a near-transfer hypothesis that active music-making and the association of sound with developmentally appropriate symbols may develop cognitive processes similar to those needed for segmentation of a spoken word into its phonemes.

Gromko, J. (2005) The effects of music instruction on the development of phonemic awareness in beginning readers. Journal of Research in Music Education, 53, 199-209



The effects of music education based on Kodaly’s directives in nursery school children: From a psychologist’s point of view


Kalmár, Magda

Psychology of Music, Vol Spec Iss, 1982, 63-68.


Examined the effects of the Kodaly method of singing instruction—which involves the accompaniment of music with rhythmic movements and the verbal or physical representation of songs—on the development of young children. 20 3-yr-olds were pretested and assigned to either the experimental group, which received twice-weekly special singing lessons based on the Kodaly method over 3 yrs, or the control group, which attended only regular nursery school programs.

The experimental group showed greater improvement than the control group on measures of motor development, particularly dynamic coordination; abstract conceptual thinking; and play improvisation and originality. On an adaptation of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, the experimental group showed superior performance on subtests requiring verbal responses but not on those involving drawing.

No between-group differences in IQ were found. (3 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)



The Relationship between Music and Reading in Beginning Readers



This study investigated the relationship of both phonemic and musical sound discrimination to reading ability in children in their first year at school.

Awareness to changes in pitch and timbre of musical stimuli was assessed using a specially designed test of musical ability. Tests of phonemic awareness and of reading performance were also administered, with particular emphasis on ability at employing phonic skills in reading.

The results support the hypothesis that discrimination of musical sounds is related to reading performance, but reveal that the influential factor in this relationship is a specific awareness of pitch changes.

Lamb, S.J., & Gregory, A.H. ( 1993). The relationship between music and reading in beginning readers. Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology, 31(1), 19-27. , Google Scholar