Do informal musical activities shape auditory skill development in preschool-age children?

This article reviews the literature regarding the effect of “musically active” families on the musical development of children, and takes the position that based on the research, early music activities (including with infants) can affect children’s ability to learn, or, as they put it “everyday musical activities are a rich source of experiences that may have the potential to shape auditory skill development.”

Title: Do informal musical activities shape auditory skill development in preschool-age children?
Authors: Vesa Putkinen, Katri Saarikivi and Mari Tervaniemi
Journal: Frontiers in Psychology v. 4, 2013.
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00572
Free full text available online.

The influence of formal musical training on auditory cognition has been well established. For the majority of children, however, musical experience does not primarily consist of adult-guided training on a musical instrument. Instead, young children mostly engage in everyday musical activities such as singing and musical play. Here, we review recent electrophysiological and behavioral studies carried out in our laboratory and elsewhere which have begun to map how developing auditory skills are shaped by such informal musical activities both at home and in playschool-type settings. Although more research is still needed, the evidence emerging from these studies suggests that, in addition to formal musical training, informal musical activities can also influence the maturation of auditory discrimination and attention in preschool-aged children.

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