Research exploring early childhood musical development as it relates to the Sounds of Intent Early Years Framework.
This mixed-methods study applies the Sounds of Intent in the Early Years framework (SoI-EY) to explore the trajectory of young children’s musical development. Musical development is considered as it occurs in relation to children’s surrounding environment and social context. Seven hundred and ninety-six naturalistic observations of 44 children engaging in musical activity were captured by video in early years settings by the researcher, and at home by parents. Questionnaires were also employed to gather information on children’s musical engagement at home. Video observations (ranging in length from 30 seconds to 5 minutes) were coded according to the SoI-EY framework, surrounding environment and social context. First, quantitative analysis was applied to explore broad patterns across all the data. A nonlinear logistic growth model was used to analyse the trajectory of children’s musical development over time. Multiple regression analysis was used to investigate the relationship between children’s SoI-EY level of musical development, surrounding environment, and musical activity. Following this, the musical development of three children was explored through longitudinal case studies, with comparisons made in relation to the results of the full data set. Researcher and parent observations, questionnaire data and parent interviews were triangulated and analysed for each case study. Quantitative results indicate that the trajectory of young children’s musical development is non-linear and includes phases of faster and slower growth; individual differences in musical development were also revealed. Results further suggest that children are observed to engage with music at more complex stages of development at home compared to early years settings, when engaging with another rather than when alone, and during singing activity rather than instrumental activity. Results of the qualitative analysis revealed that playfulness, shared musical culture, choice and 3 repetition encouraged children’s musical engagement, particularly as observed at home; this is important in its implication for practice.
The study maintained a mixed-methods approach, in which the musical development of a larger group of children was explored, followed by a subsample of case studies. Data collection included observations gathered of children from three early years settings in London. Seventeen parents also provided observations of their children from home. A total of 950 video observations, ranging in length from 30 seconds to five minutes, were collected. Questionnaires were created and distributed to parents in order to gather information on all children’s musical activity at home. A total of 29 questionnaires were completed. Semi-structured retrospective interviews took place with four case-study families to expand on the children’s musical experiences at home. Observational data was reviewed as it was gathered. All video clips were coded according to the SoI-EY framework, surrounding environment and social context. Questionnaires were analysed using descriptive statistics. Interviews were analysed through thematic analysis. Quantitative analysis was undertaken to look at broad patterns across all the data. Following this, the musical development of three children was explored through longitudinal case studies, with comparisons made in relation to the results of the full data set.
1) The SoI-EY framework is an effective model from which to capture children’s emerging musical development in the diversity of their naturally occurring environments. Results suggest that musical development is complex and fuzzy; the emergence of musical engagement in subsequent SoI-EY levels occurs as continuation of development in prior levels continue.
2) The implied relationship between a child’s age and predominant SoI-EY level of musical development represents a non-linear growth curve, including a stage of acceleration followed by deceleration, leading to an eventual plateau; individual differences in musical development are seen among children.
3) Children demonstrate engagement at more complex SoI-EY levels of musical development when observed: at home versus in early years settings, with others (regardless of setting observed), and during singing activity versus instrumental play (again regardless of setting observed).
4) Musical activity which may support and promote children’s musical engagement and development is grounded in social context and includes characteristics of playfulness, multimodality, and a balance of choice and repetition. Shared musical culture between parents and children was also observed to support musical engagement at home.
The full thesis can be accessed here