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Exploring learning connections between music and mathematics in early childhood

The purpose of this study was to explore early learning connections between music and mathematics. To resolve the research questions "What connections--if any--do young children make between music learning and mathematics learning?" and "Is there a relationship between young children's emergent rhythm development and emergent numeracy development?" a concurrent embedded, mixed-methods design was utilized; quantitative data were embedded within a primarily qualitative analysis. Ten preschool children in an intact class were observed for 11 weeks at predetermined points during spring 2012 through participant observation and video footage of children's daily classroom interactions and weekly music classes. Interventions, by both classroom teachers and a music specialist, were intended to foster appropriate music and mathematics practice based on Gordon's (2012) music learning theory and Clements and Sarama's (2009) mathematics learning trajectories. Emergent themes reinforced current theory that learning is interactive and individually and socially constructed. Individual children expressed themselves more readily through music or mathematics; careful coordination of these content areas allowed for learning connections in a safe environment. Correlation of music aptitude, rhythm achievement, and numeracy achievement scores provided supportive evidence regarding the relationship of early rhythm and early mathematics development; however, caution is advised in interpretation due to low sample size. Recommendations include selecting preschool song literature to meet music learning and mathematics learning objectives, eliciting observable musical and mathematical responses, and reinforcing learning connections and increased music and mathematics pedagogy courses and professional development for preschool classroom teachers to support learning connections. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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