Academic journal article Australian Journal of Early Childhood

Preschooler Response to Pre-Recorded Music in Three Different Situations

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Early Childhood

Preschooler Response to Pre-Recorded Music in Three Different Situations

Article excerpt


The aim of this study was to investigate preschool children's responses to a variety of pre-recorded music in three different situations: sitting down with eyes closed, sitting with eyes open, and listening while engaged in free play. The three settings were chosen in consultation with 32 preschool teachers, who indicated these were the three most common ways they presented pre-recorded music to their students.

In previous studies where preschoolers' music listening comprehension has been examined, subjects have generally been instructed what to do in response to a piece of music. For example, Sims (1988) conducted a movement-to-music activity using Kangaroo from Saint Saens's Carnival of the Animals. Children were told the music sounded like a kangaroo hopping and stopping and were instructed to hop in the sections that sounded like hopping. The approach to the present research is different: children were given no prior information about the music and were not told how they should respond. The preschool teachers told the children nothing about the music they were about to listen to--not even the title of the music.

The present study has its closest links to Metz's (1989) examination of movement as a musical response among preschool children. Metz examined student response to music in a free choice participation setting through observation within a music 'learning centre' (p. 50), consisting of portable panels of mirrored plexiglass so that children could watch themselves move. However, the present study sought to provide more natural settings.


Three preschool classes (located on the same campus), with an enrolment of 25 children each, were observed in the study. The preschool is in a predominantly middle-class community in Australia. Although each class has a different teacher, the teachers plan together and integrate music into their teaching, which includes singing along to CDs, singing nursery-type songs (unaccompanied) with the teacher, and listening to music while engaged in other activities such as art and quiet reading.

Strategies from Bramlett and Barnett's (1993) direct observation code for use in preschool settings were used in establishing a sequence of steps for observation of the subjects. The steps included deciding what was being observed and recorded (preschoolers' response to pre-recorded music), recording format (videotaping; describing responses in writing), and identifying frequency of occurrence of responses and patterns of behaviour that emerged. Eight pieces of music covering a variety of musical styles that had not previously been presented to the children were selected:

* Variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, by Mozart (classical, solo piano);

* Dorothy the Dinosaur, by The Wiggles (children's popular, with a strong beat featuring guitar, drums and electronic keyboards);

* Cradle Song, by Brahms (classical, string ensemble, slow tempo, very relaxing);

* The Flight of the Bumblebee, by Rimsky-Korsakov (classical, full orchestra, fast tempo);

* Riders for the Flag, by Sousa (march, brass band, strong beat);

* O Mio Babbino Caro, by Puccini (opera, solo singer with orchestral accompaniment, slow tempo);

* She Loves You, by The Beatles (rock and roll, guitar and drums, moderate tempo); and

* Who Let the Dogs Out, by Baha Men (contemporary popular, fast beat, emphasis on drums and bass).

Each of the three preschool classes listened to all musical selections. The music was presented to each group in the same order (as listed above), with one piece of music being presented each day over eight successive weekdays. The first preschool class listened with eyes closed only, the second listened with eyes open only, and the third listened only while engaged in free play. Each class listened to the music in different rooms. The group listening to music with eyes closed and the group listening with eyes open were seated on carpet. …

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