A Child-Directed Music Curriculum in the Montessori Classroom
Results of a Critical Participatory Action Research Study
Keywords:music, curriculum, Montessori, action research, early childhood
Maria Montessori strongly advocated for music learning to be fully integrated into the classroom; however, many Montessori classrooms are dominated by materials aimed at developing children’s visual sense. The purpose of this critical participatory action research (CPAR) study was to address this perceived learning disparity by developing and implementing a curriculum that is consistent with the Montessori approach, child directed, and focused on sound examination and music learning. We designed six shelf works and offered them, over the course of 6 CPAR cycles, to 20 3- to 6-year-old children attending a Montessori school. Findings from qualitative and quantitative data indicate that the children received the works positively, chose to engage with them, became more confident in their musical tasks over time, showed signs of deep concentration and attention, and demonstrated consistent performance across similar tasks related to perception and cognition. We conclude that the presence of these 6 curricular works began to disrupt the perceived learning disparity we identified; however, more can be done to understand and change the classroom practices that support that disparity.
Baker, W. J. (2008). Learning centres in primary and early childhood music education. Victorian Journal of Music Education, 22–30. https://eprints.utas.edu.au/8146/2/ASME_VJME_2008.pdf
Berger, A. A., & Cooper, S. (2003). Musical play: A case study of preschool children and parents. Journal of Research in Music Education, 51(2), 151–165. https://doi.org/10.2307/3345848
Bolduc, J. (2009). Effects of a music programme on kindergartners’ phonological awareness skills International Journal of Music Education, 27(1), 37–47. https://doi.org/10.1177/0255761408099063
Bolin, P. E., & Blandy, D. (2003). Beyond visual culture: Seven statements of support for material culture studies in art education. Studies in Art Education, 44(3), 246–263. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.bu.edu/stable/1321012
Cho, E. (2019). Sensitive periods for music training from a cognitive neuroscience perspective: A review of the literature with implications for teaching practice. International Journal of Music in Early Childhood, 14(1), 17–33. https://doi.org/10.1386/ijmec.14.1.17_1
Classen, C. (2002). The colour of angels: Cosmology, gender and the aesthetic imagination. Routledge.
Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Csikszentmihalyi, I. S. (1992). Optimal experience: Psychological studies of flow in consciousness. Cambridge University Press.
Custodero, L. A. (2005). Observable indicators of flow experience: A developmental perspective on musical engagement in young children from infancy to school age. Music Education Research, 7(2), 185–209. https://doi.org/10.1080/14613800500169431
Dansereau, D. R. (2011). The role of musical engagement in the musicality of three-year-old children. In S. Burton & C. Taggart (Eds.), Learning from young children: Research in early childhood music (pp. 39–59). Rowman & Littlefield.
Dansereau, D. R. (2017). Young children, sound-producing objects, and the shape bias. Psychology of Music, 45(2), 193–203. https://doi.org/10.1177/0305735616653465
Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, Pub. L. No. 114-95 § 114 Stat. 1177 (2015–2016). https://www.congress.gov/114/plaws/publ95/PLAW-114publ95.pdf
Franc, V., & Subotic, S. (2015, April 13–15). Differences in phonological awareness of five-year-olds from Montessori and regular program preschool institutions. Paper presented at the Faculty of Teacher Education University of Zagreb Conference, Researching Paradigms of Childhood and Education, Opatija, Croatia. http://sinisasubotic.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Franc-V.-Subotic-S.-2015.-Differences-in-phonological-awareness-of-five-year-olds-from-Montessori-and-regular-program-preschool-institutions.pdf
Gerry, D., Unrau, A., & Trainor, L. J. (2012). Active music classes in infancy enhance musical, communicative and social development. Developmental Science, 15(3), 398–407. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7687.2012.01142.x
Gordon, E. (2013). A music learning theory for newborn and young children. GIA Publications.
Gromko, J. E. (2005). The effect of music instruction on phonemic awareness in beginning readers. Journal of Research in Music Education, 53(3), 199–209. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3598679
Habib, M., & Besson, M. (2009). What do music training and musical experience teach us about brain plasticity? Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 26(3), 279–285. https://doi.org/10.1525/mp.2009.26.3.279
Harris, M. A. (2007). Differences in mathematics scores between students who receive traditional Montessori instruction and students who receive music enriched Montessori instruction. Journal for Learning Through the Arts, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.21977/D93110059
Hornbach, C. M. (2005). Ah-eee-ah-eee-yah-eee, bum and pop, pop, pop: Teacher initiatives, teacher silence, and children’s vocal responses in early childhood music classes (Publication No. 3189669) [Doctoral dissertation, Michigan State University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.
Ilari, B., Fesjian, C., & Habibi, A. (2018). Entrainment, theory of mind, and prosociality in child musicians. Music & Science, 1, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F2059204317753153
Joret, M.-E., Germeys, F., & Gidron, Y. (2016). Cognitive inhibitory control in children following early childhood music education. Musicae Scientiae, 21(3), 303–315. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1029864916655477
Kemmis, S., McTaggart, R., & Nixon, R. (2013). The action research planner: Doing critical participatory action research. Springer Science & Business Media.
Kenney, S. (1997). Music in the developmentally appropriate integrated curriculum. In C. H. Hart, D. C. Burts, & R. Charlesworth (Eds.), Integrated curriculum and developmentally appropriate practice: Birth to age eight (pp. 103–144). State University of New York Press.
Lansink, J. M., & Richards, J. E. (1997). Heart rate and behavioral measures of attention in six‐, nine‐, and twelve‐month‐old infants during object exploration. Child Development, 68(4), 610–620. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.1997.tb04224.x
Lillard, A., & Else-Quest, N. (2006). Evaluating Montessori education. Science, 313(5795), 1893–1894. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1132362
Lillard, A. S. (2011). What belongs in a Montessori Primary classroom? Montessori Life, 23(3), 18–32.
Lillard, A. S. (2012). Preschool children’s development in classic Montessori, supplemented Montessori, and conventional programs. Journal of School Psychology, 50(3), 379–401. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsp.2012.01.001
Magne, C., Schön, D., & Besson, M. (2006). Musician children detect pitch violations in both music and language better than nonmusician children: Behavioral and electrophysiological approaches. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 18(2), 199–211. https://doi.org/10.1162/089892906775783660
Marshall, C. (2017). Montessori education: A review of the evidence base. npj Science of Learning, 2(1), 11. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41539-017-0012-7
Menzer, M. (2015). The arts in early childhood: Social and emotional benefits of arts participation: A literature review and gap-analysis (2000-2015). National Endowment for the Arts. https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/arts-in-early-childhood-dec2015-rev.pdf
Montessori, M. (1967). The Montessori Method. Robert Bentley. (Original work published 1912)
Moreno, S., Bialystok, E., Barac, R., Schellenberg, E. G., Cepeda, N. J., & Chau, T. (2011). Short-term music training enhances verbal intelligence and executive function. Psychological Science, 22(11), 1425–1433. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797611416999
Nardo, R. L., Custodero, L. A., Persellin, D. C., & Brink Fox, D. (2006). Looking back, looking forward: A report on early childhood music education in accredited American preschools. Journal of Research in Music Education, 54(4), 278–292. https://doi.org/10.2307/4139751
National Association for Music Education. (1999). The value and quality of arts education: A statement of principles. https://nafme.org/about/position-statements/the-value-and-quality-of-arts-education-position-statement/the-value-and-quality-of-arts-education/
National Association for Music Education. (2018). 2018 NAfME legislative request: Cosponsor H.R. 6137—Guarantee Access to Arts and Music Education (GAAME) Act. Music Education Policy Roundtable. https://nafme.org/wp-content/files/2018/07/2018-NAfME-Legislative-Agenda_GAAME-Act-FINAL.pdf
Rajan, R. S. (2016). Music education in Montessori schools: An exploratory study of school directors’ perceptions in the United States. International Journal of Music Education, 35(2), 227–238. https://doi.org/10.1177/0255761416659508
Rajan, R. S. (2017). Preschool teachers’ use of music in the classroom: A survey of park district preschool programs. Journal of Music Teacher Education, 27(1), 89–102. https://doi.org/10.1177/1057083717716687
Ritblatt, S., Longstreth, S., Hokoda, A., Cannon, B.-N., & Weston, J. (2013). Can music enhance school-readiness socioemotional skills? Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 27(3), 257–266. https://doi.org/10.1080/02568543.2013.796333
Runfola, M., & Taggart, C. C. (2005). The development and practical application of music learning theory. GIA Publications.
Salvador, K. (2019). Early childhood music making in educational settings: A comprehensive analysis of peer-reviewed research, 2000–17. International Journal of Music in Early Childhood, 14(1), 35–69. https://doi.org/10.1386/ijmec.14.1.35_1
Sims, W. L., Cecconi-Roberts, L., & Keast, D. (2011). Preschool children’s uses of a music listening center during free-choice time. In S. L. Burton & C. C. Taggart (Eds.), Learning from young children: Research in early childhood music (pp. 131–139). Rowman & Littlefield Education.
Wiggins, J. (2001). Teaching for musical understanding. McGraw-Hill Humanities Social.
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. https://doi.org/10.1080/10409280903585739
How to Cite
Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. Authors can view article download statistics for published articles within their accounts.
Journal of Montessori Research
The following is an agreement between the Author (the “Corresponding Author”) acting on behalf of all authors of the work (“Authors”) and the Journal of Montessori Research (the “Journal”) regarding your article (the “Work”) that is being submitted for consideration.
Whereas the parties desire to promote effective scholarly communication that promotes local control of intellectual assets, the parties for valuable consideration agree as follows.
A. CORRESPONDING AUTHOR’S GRANT OF RIGHTS
After being accepted for publication, the Corresponding Author grants to the Journal, during the full term of copyright and any extensions or renewals of that term, the following:
1. An irrevocable non-exclusive right to reproduce, republish, transmit, sell, distribute, and otherwise use the Work in electronic and print editions of the Journal and in derivative works throughout the world, in all languages, and in all media now known or later developed.
2. An irrevocable non-exclusive right to create and store electronic archival copies of theWork, including the right to deposit the Work in open access digital repositories.
3. An irrevocable non-exclusive right to license others to reproduce, republish, transmit,and distribute the Work under the condition that the Authors are attributed. (Currently this is carried out by publishing the content under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 license (CC BY-NC.)
4. Copyright in the Work remains with the Authors.
B. CORRESPONDING AUTHOR’S DUTIES
1. When distributing or re-publishing the Work, the Corresponding Author agrees to credit the Journal as the place of first publication.
2. The Corresponding Author agrees to inform the Journal of any changes in contact information.
C. CORRESPONDING AUTHOR’S WARRANTY
The Corresponding Author represents and warrants that the Work is the Authors’ original work and that it does not violate or infringe the law or the rights of any third party and, specifically, that the Work contains no matter that is defamatory or that infringes literary or proprietary rights, intellectual property rights, or any rights of privacy. The Corresponding Author also warrants that he or she has the full power to make this agreement, and if the Work was prepared jointly, the Corresponding Author agrees to inform the Authors of the terms of this Agreement and to obtain their written permission to sign on their behalf. The Corresponding Author agrees to hold the Journal harmless from any breach of the aforestated representations.
D. JOURNAL’S DUTIES
In consideration of the Author’s grant of rights, the Journal agrees to publish the Work, attributing the Work to the Authors.
E. ENTIRE AGREEMENT
This agreement reflects the entire understanding of the parties. This agreement may be amended only in writing by an addendum signed by the parties. Amendments are incorporated by reference to this agreement.
ACCEPTED AND AGREED BY THE CORRESPONDING AUTHOR ON BEHALF OF ALL AUTHORS CONTRIBUTING TO THIS WORK