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Researchers develop a new research tool to assess musical enrichment in early years

16/04/2018
Academics develop new research tool to assess the home musical environment in families with children under the age of five

A new study published in the journal, PLOS ONE, and led by academics from Middlesex University London and Goldsmiths University of London presents the development and validation of a new research tool to assess the home musical environment in families with children under the age of five.

Lead author, Dr Nina Politimou from Middlesex University, says the research team developed the Music@Home questionnaire to provide researchers with a systematic instrument to assess the home musical environment from infancy to preschool years. She adds that while an increasing body of research reveals the beneficial effects of formal musical experiences on early cognitive and linguistic development, the majority of studies focus on musical training given in classrooms.

However, for most children under five musical experience consists of singing songs, dancing, being exposed to recorded music and playing musical games in the home environment. Capturing the extent to which the home environment of young children is musically enriched provides future possibilities to understand whether this influences the development of, for instance, social or communicative abilities.

"The majority of studies focus on musical training given in classrooms, however, for most children under five musical experience consists of singing songs, dancing, being exposed to recorded music and playing musical games in the home environment." Dr Nina Politimou

A total of 1060 parents of children under five participated in the development and validation of two versions of the Music@Home questionnaire, one for infants and one for preschool children. Both versions consist of different subscales such as: parent initiation of singing/music making, child’s engagement with music and parent’s  beliefs about the importance of music for development.

The study also investigates associations between the Music@Home and musical characteristics of parents such as musical training and personal engagement with music.

Dr Fabia Franco from Middlesex added: “Now that we have developed a tool to capture individual differences in the musical home environment, it will be possible to use it to probe possible links to the development of non-musical capacities, such as language, that may benefit from early musical enrichment.”

The authors conclude: “This fine grained measure will provide researchers, for the first time, with the opportunity to quantify the extent to which the home environment of infants and preschoolers is musically enriched in specific ways and how this may influence development of non-musical capacities.”

For more information about current and past research visit the Middlesex University research pages

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