UBC Theses and Dissertations
Developmental preschool music education : a proposed rationale, philosophy and 12-week curriculum for 4-year-old children Prusky, Kathy Ann
Numerous curricula for preschool music education have been developed in the past two decades. For the most part, however, these have not incorporated important evidence from three disciplines which has important implications for how the music education of preschool children should be approached. The first of these is the field of developmental neurobiology, which has provided relevant information concerning early learning and experience. The second is the research pioneered by Jean Piaget, whose insights into cognitive development bear heavily on curriculum planning for preschool music education. The third is research in musical development, which indicates what skills and behaviors can be expected of preschool children in a musical setting. The goal of this thesis is to demonstrate (a) why an understanding of the major findings from these fields is important to the formulation of a music education program for preschool children; and (b) how this understanding can and should impact on the curricular choices made for the musical education of preschool children. To this extent, a series of developmental and musical objectives for the music education of preschool children, specifically 4-year-olds, have been formulated to serve as a theoretical and practical foundation on which to develop and choose musical activities which are appropriate for this age group. The educational and practical value of each of these activities was tested with a group of 4-year-old children during a 12-week study carried out at the University of British Columbia Child Study Center. The activities which adequately demonstrated this value were then organized into a 12-week music curriculum for 4-year-old children. Four conclusions are made in this thesis. The first of these is that music education should begin early in life in order to influence the general learning patterns necessary for the development of musical skill. The second conclusion is that early exposure to music will be most effective when the activities chosen are complex and stimulating and allow for interaction with numerous musical stimuli on a variety of different levels. The third conclusion is that developmentally appropriate musical activities may make an important contribution to the enrichment of the learning environment during the preschool years and may subsequently enhance sensory, motor, verbal and nonverbal, social and creative thinking skills. Finally, it was concluded that preschool music education will be most effective when musical tasks reflect the limitations of children's cognitive development.
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