What is the rationale for music in a Children’s Centre?

Pitt, J. (2011) What is the rationale for music in a Children’s Centre? In: Conference of the European Network of Music Educators and Researchers of Young Children 2011, 8-11 June 2011, Helsinki, Finland.


Musicians have been working in Children’s Centres for over ten years, and early studies found that music teachers were adapting their established teaching approaches in order to meet these particular needs (MacKenzie & 2008; Young, 2007). With a Centre now located in every community, and with the majority offering music sessions for families, this study seeks to understand the rationale behind choosing music as part of a Centre’s programme of activities. It also investigates the effects of group music making on parents, children, and the ‘community of practice’ surrounding this activity. Many externally-funded, early years music project evaluations highlight the benefits of music participation for parents in terms of raised self-esteem and confidence (Lonie, 2010). Gudmundsdottir (2010) found higher than expected scores in the subjective mental wellbeing of mothers attending music classes together with their young children. This paper presents some preliminary findings from an exploratory pilot study carried out in a children’s centre in the east of England. The methodology comprises semi-structured interviews, using open-ended questions, undertaken with professionals and parents. The themes emerging from the analysis of the data have been used to generate main themes for a questionnaire survey which forms part of a series of subsequent studies. The initial findings provide evidence of the contribution that music makes to the cultural world of children and their families. Musicians are developing new ways of working as part of multi-professional teams, using music as a tool for engagement and interaction.

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