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Music and Literacy Development

  • Jun 18, 2010
  • Dianna Babcock & Cheryl Henningsgaard

Using music as a teaching tool for literacy development in young children is based on early childhood cognitive learning theories and curriculum developed centuries ago. This blog posting will take us back and give us a historical background as to the prevalence of music used in early childhood programs not only to foster music education, but other aspects of learning.

Aristotle wrote, "Since music has so much to do with the molding of character, it is necessary that we teach it to our children."

John Amos Comenius (1592-1670) The Great Didactic Developed first early childhood curriculum which "shocked the world" as it was based on a "developmentally appropriate practice" which utilizes music.

Jean-Jacques Rosseau (1712-1792) Emilie, The Social Contract Rosseau, a musician, understood music. He advocated that music was very effective in the expression of feelings for the young child. Music expressed feelings in a pure and simple form.

Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827) How Gertrude Teaches Her Children This curriculum offered "useful" as well as traditional educational teachings. Music was viewed as useful. Music also played an important role in character development.

Frederick Froebel (1782-1852) Mother Play and Nursery Songs Known as the father of kindergarten, Froebel utilized music in his curriculum as a modality for moral development and self-discipline.

Maria Montessori (1870-1952) With teaching colleague, Anna Maccheroni, a music curriculum was developed which included listening, singing, playing instruments and rhythmical movement to enhance child development.

Jaques Dalcroze (1865-1950) Eurhythmics The human body is considered the first musical instrument. This method incorporates the interaction of mind and muscle to rhythm.

Carl Orff (1895-1982) Creativity, through improvisation, is the foundation for every aspect of the curriculum. Music is created through "working the word" through improvisation. Literacy activities are combined with rhythmical and musical opportunities for creative improvisation.

There is a theoretical foundation for using music in early childhood curriculums to provide many different avenues of learning. Using music to across the curriculum will enhance learning in many different ways.

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