Voorschoolse Muziek Educatie

Early Years Music Education


Mei 2012

Often we say that the children should be motivated to participate in a music lesson. But what do we exactly mean by motivating? Connecting to their interests and level of development are important in this process. The musical activities should be understandable and “doable” in terms of movement. The objects used should support the music educational aims that we have described in advance. Nevertheless, these are all means to an end: to stimulate the participation of the children in a certain direction. In itself this is not at all a bad thing, but we do have to realise that motivating is a nice term we use to stimulate the children to do what we want. Therefore the way we present our music education plan – implicitly of course, you do not give every two-year-old a handout with the lesson aims when they arrive – needs to be solidly underpinned. The motivational process is important but involves a considerable responsibility.


Sometimes it appears as if music education for young children is only a means to promote the development of general areas like language and mathematics. As a result music education for young children is often advertised as being good for almost everything except musical development itself. Teachers are trying to emphasize the general benefits of music and often I find myself doing precisely that in fear of not providing enough motivational information for parents to participate in a course.  So having coffee with a few parents after a lesson was very revealing. They emphasized the musical benefits of the course. Especially the emotional impact of music was important for them: music education as a means for personal musical expression. 

Fun is not enough

Often we hear that music with young children should be fun. And of course fun is important but fun is not enough. Fun is not educational (Dewey). Moreover, what is fun? In order to provide fun it is important to know what fun is in early years music education. Recently there was a mother who wondered out loud. We had a small discussion and one outcome was that the furthering of active participation – and confirmation of participation, responding to the children’s musical actions – is important. From this follows that the conditions should be created for active participation. Musical activities tailored to the possibilities of the children should be offered. When they can participate in something they understand: than there is a good chance they will have fun.

© Voorschoolse Muziek Educatie 2024

© Early Years Music Education 2024