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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Music Learning in the Early Years: Interdisciplinary Approaches based on Multiple Intelligences

  • Author(s): Economidou Stavrou, Natassa
  • Chrysostomou, Smaragda
  • Socratous, Harris
  • et al.

The unity of knowledge represents an old idea with new manifestations. During the last decades integrated approaches in teaching and learning have become increasingly popular. Applications of integrative approaches between the arts and other school subjects exist in many countries around the world, offering insights into the problems and challenges that such efforts can result into. In this paper a short review of the relevant literature in support of integrative curricula, as well as problems and concerns caused by their application, will set the basis for the description of the practice-based research project that is reported.

The project brought together a kindergarten teacher and two researchers, under a collaborative model of inquiry in a pre-primary school setting in Cyprus. An attempt was made to enrich the teaching of musical concepts through the use of activities and practices borrowed from other disciplines. More specifically, the study sought to investigate whether children’s understanding of the music concepts taught was evident, what was the children’s response to the designed units and what were the teacher’s perceptions of the educational atmosphere before and after the application of the designed units. Six half-hour music lessons, comprising two different units -pitch and tempo- were taught and videotaped. The design of the different units and the organization and choice of activities, apart from drawing from the literature on integration, was heavily based on the theory of multiple intelligences by H. Gardner. A ‘follow-up’ video stimulated recall interview was conducted at the end of each unit. The videotaped lessons, the observation field notes, the interviews with the teacher, the teacher’s self reflection as well as the feedback by the researchers, provided both a wealth of data as well as interesting interpretations. The findings suggest that the pre- primary school children that participated in the study responded with enthusiasm to innovative activities that related music with other subjects. In addition, each child was given the opportunity to better understand the concepts taught through his/her own ways of learning.

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