Singing one’s way to self-regulation: The role of early music and movement curricula and private speech

Winsler, A., Ducenne, L., & Koury, A. (2011). Singing one’s way to self-regulation: The role of early music and movement curricula and private speech. Early Education and Development, 22(2), 274-304.

Abstract:

Investigators studied the effects of music classes on a child’s self regulation through private speech. Investigators compared three and four year old children who were enrolled or had been enrolled in a music program (n =42) to similar children who were never enrolled in the music program (n=47). Investigators also compared children who were currently enrolled in the music program to children who were not longer enrolled. Analyses found that children who were enrolled or had been enrolled in the music program had greater self regulation than children who were never enrolled in the music program. Furthermore, children who were currently enrolled in the music classes demonstrated better self regulation, and used more self-regulatory private speech, than students who were not currently enrolled.

Key Findings:

Children who were enrolled or had been enrolled in the music program had greater self regulation than children who were never enrolled in the music program.

Children who were currently enrolled in the music classes demonstrated better self regulation, and used more relevant private speech, than students who were not currently enrolled.

Significance of the Findings:

Self-regulation behaviors and self-regulation speech is associated with a child’s ability to follow rules and engage in behaviors that allow the child to pay attention and focus on the tasks assigned to them. This invention found that children exposed to music classes are better able to self-regulate their behavior compared to student not exposed to music classes. Music instruction could be incorporated into early education program to help students build self-regulation skills.

Methodology:

Parents were asked about their child’s enrollment in Kindermusik, a preschool music program. Children were categorized into two groups, those who had been enrolled in the Kindermusik program and those who were not. Investigators used the Kochanska battery of tests to assess children’s self-regulation. Investigators also assigned a problem solving task to children. The task was designed to assess the child’s private speech. The investigators video recorded the problem solving task which were later coded. Analyses of variance (ANOVAs) and Chi-square’s were conducted to determine the difference in self-regulating behaviors between students who were enrolled in the music program and those who were not.

Limitations of the Research:

According to the investigators, the children had “relatively strong self-regulatory skills” regardless of exposure to music classes. The study could have been stronger with a greater level of variance among students’ self-regulation skills. The study used a quasi-experimental design so it is possible inherent differences between the groups were present that could have accounted for the findings.

Questions to Guide New Research:

Would the level of exposure to music classes be correlated to self-regulation? What are the reasons that music classes affect self-regulation? Would other types of art classes also have similar effects on self regulation? Would similar results be observed with older children?