Academic journal article Journal of Research in Childhood Education

Learning to Toot Your Own Horn: Preservice Teachers Integrating Music into a Childhood Classroom

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Childhood Education

Learning to Toot Your Own Horn: Preservice Teachers Integrating Music into a Childhood Classroom

Article excerpt

Abstract. This study investigated preservice teachers' perspectives of integrating music in their third year of a childhood teacher education program. Preservice teachers were enrolled in a multidisciplinary course in which they learned about integrating music and had opportunities to implement such knowledge into practical teaching. One hundred sixty preservice teachers in a childhood education program from an urban public university participated in the study. They wrote reflective journals every week and also filled out surveys at the beginning and the end of the multidisciplinary course. Quantitative and qualitative data of preservice teachers" perspectives and confidence in music and music teaching were analyzed before and after the course in terms of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. The results indicated that the preservice teachers had positive attitudes toward incorporating music and had high expectations towards classroom teachers teaching with music. Upon completion of the multidisciplinary course, the preservice teachers' knowledge and confidence in incorporating musical concepts improved significantly; they also perceived themselves as more confident in teaching children in various age groups from pre-kindergarten to 5th grade. In addition, at the end of the course, they continued to hold positive attitudes toward incorporating music and high expectations to teach music in a classroom.


The Music Educators National Conference (MENC) addressed standards in music content areas that children should achieve (MENC, 1994). Those standards are: 1) singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music; 2) performing on instruments; 3) improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments; 4) composing and arranging music within specific guidelines; 5) reading and notating music; 6) listening to, analyzing, and describing music; 7) evaluating music and music performances; 8) understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts; and 9) understanding music in relation to history and culture. These standards often become the teaching responsibility of childhood classroom teachers, who are expected to be generalists. Byo (2000) explained that generalists are considerably less comfortable than music specialists in teaching all of the content standards in music. In addition, classroom teachers feel less responsible to teach music when they have music specialists in their schools (Byo, 2000).

Theoretical Background

Howard Gardner acknowledged that many different and discrete facets of cognition exist, and that people have different cognitive strengths and contrasting cognitive styles (Gardner, 1983, 1993). Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences proposes that there are at least eight different types of "intelligences" rather than just one single quotient; musical intelligence is one of them. Gardner also (1997) explained that "music may be a privileged organizer of cognitive processes, especially among young people" (p. 9). Studies show that music education may affect the development of children's neural pathways (Campbell, 1986; Sarnthein et al., 1997; Shore & Strasser, 2006). A neuroscientific framework provides insight to the relationship between musical and other areas, such as spatial intelligences (Leng & Shaw, 1991; MENC, 2000). The framework shows that certain neural firing patterns, organized in a complex spatial-temporal code over large regions of cortex, are exploited by both musical and spatial reasoning tasks. It also proposes that integrating music education in the early childhood curriculum would enhance young children's performance of spatial-temporal tasks (Rauscher & Zupan, 2000).

In early childhood classrooms, Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences and the neuroscientific frameworks create areas for teachers to think about practical uses and applications in schools (Levin, 1994). …

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