Teaching Child-Care Personnel to Use Music in the Classroom: A Comparison of Workshop Training versus On-Site Modeling

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT: While it is widely accepted that the use of music in the early childhood classroom is fundamental, most early childhood professionals are not equipped to integrate music throughout the curriculum. This study compares three groups (n = 13, n = 16, n = 8) of early childhood educators that received a variety of types of instruction and guidance on the implementation of music over the course of the school day. Undergraduate music education students (n = 14) facilitated the music sessions and were asked to give written feedback on their experiences and interactions with the teachers and children. A one hour, in-class observation was conducted and the number of music activities used was recorded approximately one month after the completion of the workshop. In addition to the observation, measures for this study included a teacher and self-efficacy scale as well as a questionnaire regarding the nature of music use in the classroom. Findings of this study indicate that providing a model for implementation and support may increase the amount of music used by the classroom teacher. Additionally, teachers are more likely to implement and follow through with new programs early in their career. Suggestions for future research are discussed.

In recent years, the idea that music should be an integral part of early childhood curriculum and experiences has become irrefutable. Music facilitates communication across all developmental levels and can be utilized to achieve socialemotional and academic goals (Camilleri, 2000). Weinberger (1998) discusses a number of studies that support active music making as an effective measure to increase creativity. Guilmartin (2000), in reflecting on the end of the twentieth century and looking to the new millennium, notes the resurgence of participation in music and its use for expression and development. Additionally, the idea of teaching new skills within the framework of a child's natural activities (i.e., play) is widely supported by education professionals (Mori, 1996). Because music has been part of children's play throughout history, there is evidence that it can be easily embedded in the daily routine (Achilles, 1999).

As all of these issues have risen to the forefront of early childhood education reform, the need to pinpoint and address specific outcomes and strategies regarding the use of music in the early childhood classroom has become paramount. In 2000, the Music Educator's National Conference (MENC) in cooperation with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the U.S. Department of Education held an Early Childhood Music Summit, entitled "Start the Music," which outlined and discussed the needs of both the early childhood and music education professions. Strategies for ensuring "music education [as] basic and therefore integral to the education of children at any age" (Boston, 2000) were outlined and discussed at length. Of the topics discussed, one of the most pervasive was the need for a "delivery system" and a focus on pre-service teacher education and continuing education for those working with young children.

In Nardo's (1996) investigation of music in early childhood teacher preparation in the state of California, she noted the need for a minimum of two semesters of study in order to train pre-service teachers how to utilize music in a meaningful and lasting manner in the early childhood classroom. Simplicio (2000) maintains that teachers must have a thorough understanding of new and creative methods of instruction before attempting to implement strategies in their classroom. Scott-Kassner (1999) supports this position and outlines necessary characteristics of individuals that provide music experiences to young children as well as suggestions for increased training in both music and early childhood education.

Comprehensive music training and practical experiences provided by music specialists will increase the comfort level of both pre-service and current teachers with the necessary material. …