Translational Research in Music Early Learning and Development: Gains and Gaps

Mon 12 Feb 2018 8:30am4:30pm


School of Music
Zelman Cowen Building
University of Queensland, St. Lucia







Hosted by the School of Music, University of Queensland, St. Lucia

This one-day symposium brings together leading international researchers in music early learning and development to provide an overview of current research and future directions in the field. The program encompasses perspectives from music education, music therapy, music psychology, music sociology, and early childhood education. The program has relevance for those engaged in education, practice and research in early childhood education from birth to age 8 and provides opportunity for interactive discussion.

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Margaret Barrett, University of Queensland.
Musical parenting and care in early learning and development: The contributions of family, education and care, and music early learning programs.

Infancy and early childhood are periods of rapid development and growth shaped by the child's experiences in family and community. There is an expanding literature on the effects of music on various aspects of learning and development including cognitive, social and emotional development, and health and well-being outcomes. The bulk of this literature has focused on school-aged children with less attention to investigating the role of music in children's early life. Studies have indicated that young children (aged 18 months to 60 months) use music, primarily as invented song, in their identity work, as a means of communication with self and others, as a means to explore and express their understandings of the world, and as a means to self-regulate and self-comfort. Studies of music-making in family indicate that shared music-making experiences between carer and child contribute to positive life and learning outcomes for the child, function as a tool for behaviour and mood modification, and play a role in establishing family traditions. This presentation will report on the findings of a longitudinal study of Musical Parenting and young children's music-making in Australian families. The presentation will provide a comprehensive description of Musical Parenting and video examples of the ways in which children use music in their lives in family and community. Findings of the study indicate that there is a rich reserve in music-making in participating families and provide guidance on how families might use music as a component of their parenting.

For more about Margaret, Click Here

Professor Patricia Shehan Campbell, University of Washington, USA.
 Diversity in the midst of a musical education for children.

While acknowledging a long commitment to the musical engagement of children and youth in schools (and in the preparation of adults as responsible teaching musicians who guide them), I urge us to recognize the need for our continuing efforts to provide the substance of a globally tuned musical education for all who desire (and require) it.  Culturally responsive teaching, shaped by a consciousness of music and musicians hailing from local communities and global cultures, inform and transform mindful music education policy and practice.  I argue for a grand diversity of experiences and study of music for children, and for all learners, as expressive practices that are both multicultural and intercultural. With attention to children and their teachers, I offer educational encounters that embrace music through listening, participatory musicking, performance, and composing-improvising.  Further to cultural understanding, and propose that the interdisciplinary study of music as art, humanistic endeavor, and social behavior can lead to a thoughtful discovery of music, the community, and the world.

For more about Patricia, Click Here

Associate Professor Lori Custodero, Columbia University, NY, USA.
The circles of life: Considering the ecologies of young children's music making.

How are children enculturated into music? Drawing upon the work of psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner, I address the social and physical settings in which young children “learn” to make and respond to music. His ecological model incorporates nested circles of influence involving the interaction of multiple musical communities such as family, neighborhood, religious spaces, or school, along with broader contexts of local and global political conditions.  These “circles of life” offer a useful template to examine the historical and recent research addressing the opening question, to hypothesize about music’s function for children, and to plot future directions.

For more about Lori, Click Here

Professor Kathryn Marsh, University of Sydney.
Music, displacement, and emplacement for young refugee and newly arrived immigrant children.

Within the context of unprecedented global population displacement and forced migration, I discuss ways in which musical activity, including self-initated music and related movement, musical play, and music sung by parents and caregivers can create a safe and dialogic space that contributes to the wellbeing of refugee and newly arrived immigrant children, supporting social and emotional beginnings for culturally diverse young children in new environments. Creative musical engagement, within formal childcare, school or informal out of school settings, enables the enactment of agency by young children of refugee background, while music’s presence in planned activities in educational and community-based facilities provides opportunities for social inclusion within the receiving culture. Examples will be drawn from an extended research study conducted with resettled communities in Australia.

For more about Kathryn, Click Here

Professor Gary McPherson, University of Melbourne.
Musical giftedness during early childhood.

Many myths, stereotypes and misconceptions surround the acquisition of various forms of musical development and this is especially evident in explanations related to early childhood.  Adult conceptions of what a child can and can’t do, how they might best develop musical skills, and the maturity they are able to bring to performing or creating music often cloud evidence about what it is to be musical during the early years of life. In accord with much of the literature on giftedness and talent, I will construct a picture of those attributes that I believe most impact on the acquisition of musical talents during early childhood, and the key questions researchers might ask in order to better understand the abilities of very young children who display unusual precociousness to engage in music.

For more about Gary, Click Here

Dr. Costanza Preti, UCL Institute of Education, London, UK.
Informal music experiences in paediatric hospitals.

When children experience live music while in hospital their perception of the hospital environment changes and they are able to refocus their attention on something that is external to their illness. Music making constitutes for children and their family a psychosocial space where they can interact without the anxiety and stress elicited by diagnosis-feared perception as well as illness. However, the underlying explanation for the positive effect of music making in hospital is under researched. A review of child development literature in relation to hospitalization will be presented together with case examples from international practice to highlight where the major gaps lie in relation to theory and practice.

For more about Costanza, Click Here

Associate Professor Helen Shoemark, Temple University, Philadelphia, USA.
Voice and singing to sustain contingency in the at-risk mother-infant dyad.

The human voice is a central part of parent-infant interactions in the earliest stages of life, providing a pivotal aspect of mutual regulation, intersubjectivity and thus, attachment.  When either the infant or parent is compromised in these capacities, voice use can be used as a platform to create meaningful experiences.  Contingent-singing, is a music therapeutic approach pioneered for hospitalized newborn infants but appropriate for other populations where a conscious focus on the musicality of the caregiving voice affords parents actionable insight based on their infant’s responses. This is an acceptable and affordable parental support which promotes parenting confidence.  

For more about Helen, Click Here

Professor Graham F. Welch, UCL Institute of Education, London, UK.
'Music for Change': A two-year, mulit-disciplinary collaboration between musicians and speech language therapists in nursery settings.

The presentation will report on the findings from a two-year research evaluation (2015-2017) into a specially designed, multidisciplinary collaboration in nursery settings between early years music specialists and Speech and Language Therapists. The intervention was designed to support the development of pre-school children living in challenging circumstances in inner London. This sought to devise and enact new activities in and through music that, whilst aimed at all pupils, would specifically support young children with speech and language delay. A key research focus was on the ability of the participant nursery staff to ‘own’ the principles and details of the programme such that they were able to lead it, albeit with support from the visiting expert team.

For more about Graham, Click Here


Early bird (by December 15 2017): $105 adults, $40 students.

Full registration (after December 15 2017):  $135 adults, $50 students.

Click here to register


Dr. Katie Zhukov