Voorschoolse Muziek Educatie

Early Years Music Education


Mei 2012

A few chime bars with different tones and piano accompaniment is all it takes to create a moment of exploration and improvisation. First the children explored the sound possibilities of the chime bars. The pianist played an improvisation with notes corresponding with the chime bars. Although an improvisation the children were able to detect the underlying rhythmical structure. It was interesting to hear that after a while they synchronised their playing with the rhythm of the piano. Time – the allowed length of playing time – was essential. A nice moment to see that the children were able to play their chime bars and listen to the piano at the same time!


The topic Movement seems to appear left and right as a sort of new credo for development in all areas, often emphasizing  the need for music education because there a lot of movement is used. But movement is not the aim of musical development, it is a prerequisite for musical growth. An important difference. Also the opposite, learning to control your body and to sit still, is overlooked. During an early childhood music education lesson a boy was  running around and he was not paying any attention to what was going on in the group. A present adult said “he needs to move”.   Yes, movement is important but not all the time! A good music lesson always has a good balance between big movements and small movements. (No movement is rare because music implies movement.) Moreover, music lessons can help the children to control their impulses and to focus their attention. I prefer to call this self-determination, having control over your body instead of the other way around.

I do understand the need and necessity of lots of movement for young children, boys AND girls. Putting them behind computers and taking down play grounds (for whatever unreasonable safety reasons) does not help. Focussing attention more on children’s heads than their bodies by starting formal learning sooner and sooner is not helping either. In short: music education cannot compensate for the movement needs, that other environments sadly neglect.


We live in a highly individualised society. And also with regard to music with young children you often read that it is the individual musical expression that counts. A beautiful aspect of music education – musical growth in a group – is that it is also about the group. Together. Attention for another, patience for another, listening to another and working together with another. Of course, the individual musical expression also has a place. Nevertheless, music education in a group is an enrichment for every child.


Today an 8-year-old has its own website and computers are part of daily life. Pressing buttons gives faster results than ever before. The music education landscape is changing. This is not a bad thing. When applied with vision technology gives us a plethora of new possibilities. Nevertheless, it does have major implications how we teach music to young children. For example the use of a CD is normal now but it can not fully replace actual musical instruments that you can touch (and even taste when needed). The success of baby and toddler concerts (in NL but probably also elsewhere) indicates that life music –  connecting sound with the appropriate visual – is still very much alive. In early childhood music education we have the possibility to teach the children to have more patience when accomplishing a musical “task”.  To delay the need for an instant result. Then hopefully pressing a button will become much more than just pressing a button.

© Voorschoolse Muziek Educatie 2024

© Early Years Music Education 2024