Music and Children

This website is created for the project Music and Me: how children think about music. Music is universal in our lives and is thought to have been co-evolved a social cohesion activity (Savage et al., 2020). It is profoundly important from infancy to death.

In a study using an experience sampling method on everyday use of music, participants listened to music in 37% of the sampled episodes (Juslin, Lijestrom, Vastfjall, Barradas, & Silva, 2008). What about children and music?  Lee and Welch (2017) found that 54% of teachers reported using background music during children’s free-play and finding this activity helpful in supporting content-related curriculum. Another study by Gillespie and Gillespie (2010) also reported that music is used 6.5 times per hour, on average, in classrooms to scaffold children’s learning and facilitate everyday activities.

Additionally, some studies have suggested that there is a strong association between music and language (even writing skills), during early development (Chan, Ho, Cheung, 1998; Moreno et al., 2009). Apparently, this is effect is long-lasting too; even if a person had not played music for more than 40 years early musical training can prevent later cognitive decline.

However, formal music education does not start before the age of 5 and exposure to music in the first year of life is incidental. It is usually based on parental musical preferences and habits, or nursery rhymes and songs learnt in early childcare. It seems that music education in school-aged children is subject to ever rising tuition fees and results in music becoming less and less accessible.

This project aims to understand how children relate to music and how they can tell this in their drawings. Drawing is a relatively early skill to develop and does not depend on language, thus it can be used from very young ages from all around the world. Children’s drawings are extremely salient descriptors of how they see the world, salient even for other children.


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