Creating a Learning Environment

According to Barbara Cass-Beggs, these are the most effective conditions under which children can learn music:

  • Security and Stability: A musical outline that follows a logical sequence provides children with a sense of order and security. Activities should be geared for the child’s developmental readiness offered within an age appropriate amount of time. In addition, “infants’ sense of security is helped by continuing the rhythms and sounds to which they have become accustomed as a fetus” (Cass-Beggs 1981, 132).
  • Curiosity: It is important to arouse each child’s curiosity since “children learn because they are curious” (Cass-Beggs 1986, 13).
  • Feelings and Emotions: For babies, feelings and emotions “take precedence over the cognitive and intellectual skills.” They “trigger interest in new things” and thus are an integral part of each baby’s development. “The use of imaginative and emotional skills is a vital learning tool” (Cass-Beggs, 1986, 13). This can also be referred to as expression (Cass-Beggs 1986, 86).
  • Imitation: Babies enjoy imitation, and imitation “plays a major role in the learning process. If a child can satisfy her curiosity, feelings, emotions, and imitate those she loves there is no reason why she shouldn’t learn all the time! Isn’t it the adult, not the child, who thinks that learning is something unnatural, difficult or boring?” (Cass-Beggs 1986, 13)
  • Variety: “Babies love novelty, not tedium. They enjoy complex patterns and bright colors, and dislike over-repetitiveness and lack of imagination. Because of their short attention span, babies and young children concentrate better when they are not expected to participate in one event for very long.” (Cass-Beggs 1986, 13).
  • Dynamics can be used to create variety through various musical techniques such as the gradation of loudness and softness in the musical tones (Cass-Beggs 1986, 86).