Contribution Of A Music Preschool To The Development Of Children

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Music education in the early years of a child's life contributes significantly to the physical, emotional, mental and social development of young children. Indeed, educational researchers such as Dalcroze, Orff, Kodaly, and Suzuki developed methods through which children would be able to learn music more effectively using musical activities such as speech, singing, voice, movement and musical instruments. However, there seems to be a weakness in the Cypriot educational system in relation to music education for young children in comparison to that in other developed countries such as Finland. The purpose of this paper is to synopsize the academic discussion regarding the benefits of the early age contact with music and apply the foremost educational methods for that purpose. Moreover it aims to highlight this weakness of the Cypriot education system through the methodology of interview and propose an effective plan of action.

Music is a significant key for expressing and releasing feelings and although young children sometimes do not know how to express their self, through music they can communicate and declare how they feel. Indeed, according to Beth Luey and Stella Saperstein "music allows children to express emotion without embarrassment and without having to verbalise the ways they feel."

Music in early year's education is often a preschool child's first contact with music and researchers suggest that these years are extremely important when it comes to musical development. Early childhood is the most critical period in a child's musical growth because it is a period of rapid change and development and has been identified in literature as the "music babble" stage. Therefore, music education excites the interest of children who learn various musical skills through singing listening dancing rhythm, movement and musical game. Moreover, children create and perform their own rhythmic patterns discover the world of music and the several sounds of musical instrument through playing, avoiding stereotypes. Finally, music education helps children to love, understand and enjoy intercourse with music by experimentation and improvisation and search for new forms of expression by using music.

The purpose of this paper is to synopsize the academic discussion regarding the benefits of the early age contact with music and address the foremost applicable educational methods for that purpose. Moreover it aims to highlight some of what may be considered weakness in the Cypriot education system through the methodology of interview and propose an effective plan of action. This paper is organized as follows. Chapter one provides a brief overview of how music contributes to the early development of children emphasizing primarily on physical, emotional cognitive and social development. Chapter two concentrates on the theoretical work of educators such as Dalcroze, Kodaly, Orff, and Suzuki which has shaped the development for today's research. Primarily, it analyzes the four internationally recognized models of teaching music to young children focusing on the main media of throughout which music education functions such as speech, singing, voice, movement and musical instruments. Chapter three provides a comparison between Cypriot and Finnish preschool educational systems and underlines the weakness of Cyprus early age education system by highlighting the outcome of my interview from person related to Cyprus educational system. Chapter four describes the methodology for this research which is conducted by the use of interviews with four Cypriot educators. It also analyses their responses in the light of the literature reviews of chapters. Chapter five describes a proposed plan of action for the music education of young children in Cyprus.


1.0 Introduction

Music has such a strong influence on personal development that it affects the entire personality.

It can be argued that music and generally arts influence the development of a child's personality. Indeed, this can be seen in several studies which have pointed out the importance of music education during preschool age, school age and adolescence and the contribution that it has on children's personality, especially on physical cognitional, social, and emotional development. In fact, according to the Medical University of Florida, premature infants who were often exposed to several kinds of music developed significantly higher intellectual and physical skills than those infants who were not exposed to music. The study also revealed that children who were exposed to music from a very early age were able to understand school lessons without difficulty since they become better listeners and they could concentrate easier than the rest. Moreover, in a piece of research on student's achievement in a Gymnasium in California, it was shown that students who where musically educated from early years were more organized as to the way they were thinking and they were more intellectual while those who were taught a musical instrument from a very early age develop physical, mental, emotional and social skills more easily. Finally, Jordan-Decarbo & Galliford underscore that music has a positive impact on the locomotive, cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional development of a child.

1.1 Physical Development

Through action songs, singing games, rhythm work, striking, plucking, bowing or blowing an instrument at precise moment in time in a predetermined manner, children develop coordination-both mental and physical-and fine motor skills.

Musical activities can contribute to the physical development of a child in several ways for example music and movement, singing or playing an instrument. As an activity music and movement offers to the child exceptional ways to correspond to music with their body. This corresponds with the proper movements of the body helps in children muscular development. Indeed, as Brian Brocklehurst points out:

…taking part in music can benefit a physically awkward, arhythmic child by relaxing muscular tension, developing co-ordination of mind and body and by providing an outlet for emotional tension and an opportunity for creative self-expression. Such relaxation can also help change people's moods.

By singing and by the use of wind instruments, children can support their breathing development, with emphasis given to body's proper position, lungs capacity and diaphragmatic breathing. Also, children with speech problems could be helped because by playing wood wind and brass instruments mouth, cheek and tongue muscles are developed. Music could also be a basic element in educating children with physical disabilities, especially by the use of musical instruments. Besides this, music could also effectively contribute to educating children with sensation disabilities. For example, singing could help in blind children's speech and the use of instrument and music and movement could be interesting activities for senses exercising while also contribute to educating deaf children, by accepting sounds as vibrations through hands and feet.

1.2 Emotional Development

Music has commonly been conceptualized in an intimate connection with emotionality because musical experience, perceptual or productive, can mediate human feelings even in cases where a verbal mediation fails.

One of the roles of music education is also the emotional development of the child. Music has the power to indulge the emotional needs of the child. Children obtain and receive a unique satisfaction from music and the aesthetic experiences they receive could reinforce and enhance their emotional life, so that would be able to encounter to the requirements of the society but also remain civilized and polite with a high sense of respect and appreciation against other people. The language of music does not transfer the meaning that words do, in order the child to be able to define the sense of music individually. Therefore, the interpretation of a musical piece could be varied from one person to another, according to the experiences, the needs or the developmental abilities. This is one of the most magnificent and wonderful issues in music, the fact that each child gets from music whatever he wants, requires and desires, according to his mental or emotional needs. With various musical activities, children find ways to express their feelings and communicate. Each child receives from music what he wants and his response depends from the kind of music and his mood.

1.3 Cognitive Development

Music also contributes in the mental development of the child. Music has its own language, and the comprehension, hearing, creation and performance of music demand the use of both musical and non-musical mental processes. Thus, musical experiences and achievements require the use of several abilities, which are mental functions. In the class, the mental development could be cultivate with several ways, for example by comprehending the way how musical effect is derived or expressing feelings by using words for a musical piece or with several creative works. Music could also contain elements related to visual, touch or imagination, which usually could be displayed with music and movement, music reading and writing and by using the instruments. Researches has revealed that frequent musical involvement, which includes listening to music, saying rhymes, singing songs and playing musical instruments can be important to intellectual development. More specific, Frances H. Raucher, Gordon L. Shaw and Katherine N. Ky argue that people who listened to music composed by Mozart produced temporary increases in spatial abilities. In a similar research Schellenberg states that:

… compared with children in the control groups, children in the music groups exhibited greater increases in full-scale IQ.

1.4 Social development

Not only does music help individuals relate to the past, it also enables them to relate to their contemporaries. A great deal of music-making involves groups of people performing together. This provides excellent opportunities for individuals of different abilities, ages, and social-backgrounds to get to know and collaborate with each other.

Music develops in a grade degree the sociability of the child, through many activities that provides opportunities for a participation, collaboration, self-discipline, interaction and responsibility. In particular, it is suggested that music can develop children's sociability to a great extent through several activities that provide chances for collective participation, cooperation and interaction. According to Sergi:

…music maybe is the only way which will encourage an isolated child to get of his shell and communicate with the world around him.

Also, in their interaction, children motivate each other, so that they modify, illustrate and reinforce their ideas. Apart from musical activities obvious social impact, that takes part in the class during the lesson, the choirs, orchestras and teaching instruments in small groups, also have social value because they provide opportunities for social dexterity, coordination and communication with other children, in order to achieve a common plan. Thus, it performs an important part in education and especially in children's sociality procedure. In 1965, in her book "The song within: Music and the disadvantaged preschool child", Foster underlines that music has the power to join the individual with the team. The isolated child leaves himself to relax and is more ready to participate with other, whereas the hostile children seem to be less aggressive. Thereby, each child becomes a part of and offers to the group.

Moreover systematic music education affects positively their socialization, self confidence and social adjustment. Team activities, where children have the chance to make music they can decisively contribute in the creation of positive human relations and in the development of social capabilities. In a comparative research similar results have been made, in which it has been mentioned that children who participate systematically in musical activities excel in their efforts to start social interaction with other people, while simultaneously they demonstrated more often positive emotional reactions than children who didn't participate in music so frequently.

1.5 Conclusions

Almost all children are interested to music and we can observe their natural joy, which it's obvious, in many ways from the happiness of hearing mother's lullaby to the urge to move to the rhythm of music when a favorite song is heard. All this actions underscore the positive influence that music has on an early age child. Indeed, as Petsche, professor for neurophysiology at the Univerisity of Vienna underlines:

We know from all available studies that children who have music lessons, in addition to normal school, perform better in non-musical disciplines. The active participation in music appears to result in a more holistic brain development - which in turn leads to increased performance in all areas.

Concluding, the two group of people who are principally in charge for young children's musical development, the parents and the educators need to realize the significance of musical development in early childhood. With an understanding of what young children are musically capable of, parents and educators can plan quality musical experiences for the children in their care and to find multiple avenues of addressing children's musical development.


2.0 Introduction

Some of the educational trends of last century were created from new music education teaching models such as ….. In general the original educational type is abandoned and replaced by the experienced approach of instructive objects through child and teacher coordination and through children's self-activity. By this way children are free to explore, create or improvise by their selves and the teacher helps them to achieve their aim. The tradition of music education is full of examples from several practices. During the last decades several educators, psychologists and philosophers that would be mentioned in the next chapter such as Radcliffe, Bruner, Swanwick, wondered about the effectiveness and the implications of these (which practices) practices. Some of them suggested new student approaches so that students would be able to learn music.

2.1 General Educational Ideas

Rousette (1938), one of the "tympani band" torchbearers, believed that students should express themselves through harmony, melody and rhythm. Children should have the opportunities to undertake initiatives and not imitate musical styles. Radcliffe noted that one of music education's basic problems was its wrong targets. Too much importance was given on the development of techniques.

Louie de Bruner believed that learning takes place when students become problem solvers and by exploration, which is part of the teacher's task. As students test hypotheses and develop generalizations, they interact with the environment around them and discover solutions. When they discover their own solutions, they will better remember what was taught. According to Bruner in "discovery learning", teacher's participation is small and they undertake the part of the instructor. Students create their knowledge with logical conclusions. He supported that the most effective way to learn is by discovering rather than by being told the answer by the teacher while also also gives emphasis to social factors and the impact that parents and educators have on this.

Music education in the UK during the 1960s and 1970s was also undergoing some change and educators such as John Paynter also built on Bruner's ideas but applied them to music. Paynter and Aston aim was not to offer a teaching method but a comprehensive new approach to a creative music education which would include all the children. In Sound and Silence project by Paynter and Aston projects focused on instrumental music making. They also wondered how music could be taught in modern schools, suggesting that music teachers were specialized educators who were compelled to work in a school system which was serving general education. They supported the general education concept and they encouraged music teachers to focus on their main aim which was the children's overall training. Education should be child-centred and start from the needs of the individual. They insisted that children should try out and develop their own critical abilities which would be possible only if children were given material they could experiment with.

The musical teaching model of Swanwick may be understood as a more formal development of Paynter's ideas and thus focuses on creative involvement. The activities are: Composition, Literature, Audition, Skills acquisition and Performance.

Another model, not a teaching one but a model of the cognitive workings of the mind was developed was by Howard Gardner and it was called "multiple intelligences" This cognitive model documents the extent to which students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways. He suggests that teachers should be qualified to present their lessons in an extensive range of ways using:

Words, language (verbal-linguistic intelligence)

Pictures, images, shapes (visual-spatial intelligence)

Numbers, maths, logic (mathematical-logical intelligence)

Music, sound, rhythm (musical intelligence)

Self-reflection, self-awareness (intrapersonal intelligence)

Physical skills, body awareness (bodily-kinesthetic intelligence)

Personal interactions, social skills(interpersonal intelligence)

Experience in the natural world (naturalist intelligence)

Although according Gardner the musical intelligence exists as an autonomous process, a broader and less inhibited music lesson could also contribute to the development of the remaining intelligence patterns. If music was taught having in mind creative aims and experienced ways of approach the results would be the overall development of the child.

2.2 Music Education Teaching Models

There are four noteworthy models for teaching music in early years that are internationally recognised and, as with the models mentioned thus far, their aim is also the development of the imagination and creativity of the child. Indeed, some of these models preceded those mentioned above but have a particular emphasis on music education for the young child. They include models created by the educators: Dalcroze, Kodaly, Orff and Suzuki. A basic element of the philosophical background of all their theories is that all musical experiences should have a lead over comprehension of theoretical concepts. These models are:

2.2.1Dalcroze Method

Emil Jaques-Dalcroze a music educator from Switzerland was the first who introduced a music-movement system at the beginning of the 20th century in German and French speaking countries. It is called the 'Dalcroze Eurhythmic'. He was a pianist, composer and teacher in a conservatory in Geneva and by observing the difficulties the students had in 'solfege' exercises, created a method whose principal aim was the improvement of students' performance. As stated by Bartolomeo Fontana 'solfege is a piece of music calculated and combined to to exercise the pupils, so such end as to apply all the rules of the art of singing.'

Dalcroze concentrated on three main components in his method which according to Joy Palmer, Liora Bresler and David Edward Cooper are:

…eurhythmic games-to comprehend and express the heard; ear training (solfege) - to sing what the eye sees, to write what the ear hears and to invent music with the voice; and improvisation - to use the imagination and the skill of inner hearing to invent musical ideas spontaneously.

Dalcroze questioned the philosophy and the instructive methods of his era when he became aware of his students musical, emotional and kinetic problems and he combined them with the boring and insufficient educational material. He believed that movement and the body were directly influenced by music, because of the melody, rhythm, dynamic and expression that music contains. Through a deeper understanding of music, he suggested some movement exercises in order to coordinate muscles with neural resistant and reconcile the spirit with the body. These exercises aimed at the reinforcement of a future musician's abilities and they include exercises for the development of acoustical sensitivity, rhythm sense, feelings sensitization and the ability to express emotions and sentiments.. In particular, Dalcroze developed a method by which the body is the moderator between music and person. Acknowledging the two-way action between the body and music rhythm, he considered rhythm as the basic element of his method.

Dalcroze combined original music, rhythm, and improvisation with music. Dalcroze believed that the problem of rhythm absence in children could be worked out by activating not only the whole body, but also a part of it. He teaches children eurhythmy from an early age, because of his conviction that the human body is a musical instrument which can perform musical concepts and elements of music supports. He supports that the body is the primary musical instrument and the most intrinsic key for the internalization and for the consolidation of musical concepts. He also believed that the development of the domestic hearing and musical imagination should start from a very early age. This is the reason why he uses simple basic movements like walking or running, which are physical modes of the child. He believed that the senses which come from the body physical rhythms empower the rhythmic instinct, creating rhythmic awareness.

Concluding, Dalcrozes ideas affected and still affect musicians, dancers and all the music educators. The whole contemporary music-movement refers to Dalcroze and of course his influence is more explicit in Carl Orff, E. Willems and M. Martenot works. The distinguished music educators who worked on preschool age are the Swiss Edgar Willems who was the first to point out the grate importance of acoustic section parallel with kinetic. Maurice Martenot in France tried to reform classical solfege based on Dalcroze. In German Lucy Steiner and S. Abel-Struth included music movement in preschool music education.

Today, every music education method includes an important part from Eurythmique. The analytical schedule of Orffs and Kodalys institute has accepted that music-movement and rhythmic sections are from the most important elements of each music education program.

2.2.2 Orff Method

The German musician and composer Carl Orff, most famous for "Carmina Burana", originally based on Dalcroze's ideas, inspired and created a music-movement method for children called "Orff Schulwerk", under the subtitle of "elemental music making" and kinetic action. Orffs pedagogical approach was based on the education of ancient Greek and as Walter states Orff sought to make contemporary the ancient Greek ideal of music as 'Musike', the meeting points of music, dance and language. According to Orff, the child has a need to engage with the stimulus direct through playing and experience. This method sees the child as a body, a spirit and an inward wholeness, and aims to help him to explore sounds by offering new musical instruments and methods. The musical instruments invented by Orff are unsophisticated and can be easily played by children of all ages and abilities. They are commonly used in schools today and include xylophones and metallophones, glockenspiels, castanets, maracas, bells, triangles and cymbals tambourines, timpani, gongs, bongos, steel drums and conga drums. Children also are fascinated with sounds a feature emphasized in Orff's use of instruments and they get excited because of the wide variety of timbre they produce. Apart from the auditory, they also comprise an optical stimulus and they are useful for experimentation and creative process of musical ideas. They help children to comprehend the tonality and they are appropriate for accompanying rhythmic phrases.

The hearing of natural sounds, live or canned music is a primitive element for the complete intercourse with sounds. By listening to the sounds of the natural environment, children have the chance to draw, to improvise with Orff's orchestral instruments, for theatrical games, for interpretation with songs, for body movements and more. With the proper education all the children can develop a satisfied a comprehension of rhythm, tonality and music. Orff's method underlines that children should make music on their own, to participate actively in musical activities, before learning any theoretical concepts. He supports that perception comes before knowledge. He moves from simple sonorous exercises, to more complicated patterns of musical creativity. Orff's method can contribute to the general education and engender complemented persons with judgement, creativity, imagination and sensitivity. It is based on the combination of music, movement and literature, on the personal creativity and the game. It initiates children in the music world (knowledge and skills) and it cultivates movement and body expression. Moreover it trains perceptiveness, concentration, preparation, imagination and develop initiative.

The worldwide recognition he enjoyed was because of the fact that he used the creative game as an integral element for teaching music. The new concepts that Carl Orff introduced in music-movement method were improvisation, the original-expressive movement-dance, voice-speech-song, musical instruments. In this way, children learn musical concepts through speech, movement, singing, improvisation and with the use of musical instrument. As an educator and a composer, he encounters music in a Platonic way and meaning, which emphasizes speech (expression of thought). Orff supports that "the speech exercise comes at the beginning of all musical practice, both rhythmic and melodic" Orff also focused on speech because he believed that the gradual transition from imagery to musical instruments was the most natural process for musical experience. From a very early age, children naturally get into kinetic activities, using their whole body or some parts of it. These movements usually make a sonorous sound (clapping, exclamation) and looks like a natural game. However, they could constitute the beginning of a rhythmical-musical education.

Summarizing, what is characterizing Orff's method more is that children get close to easy-play musical instruments, like xylophones, metallophones, recorders, cymbals, from the very early years. Thereby, children learn to act musically on their own, to improvise and participate in music. According to Orff, if children are taught basic concepts or skills before they learn how to express themselves by using music, is as if children are taught how to read before they are able to talk. Both Kodaly and Orff were paying attention to music education in the early years, considering this period as fundamental for the subsequent music development of the child. Orffs music movement method was based on music-movement-speech junction. According to Labuta and Smith, Orff believed that music-movement-speech were inseparable. It should hold over a central position in general education in schools and represent a valuable way for the child's inward, constitutional and intellectual completion.

Concluding, children's music education is achieved through music actions such us: voice-speech-singing, movement, the use of musical instruments, improvisation, musical games, listening to music, musical stories, imitation, theatre etc. These are some techniques that Orff used in order to teach music to young children.

2.2.3 Kodaly Method