Theses Doctoral

Examining the functions of infant musicality within a childcare community

Baxani, Nita

The purpose of this case study was to explore and understand the function of music in an infant community. By observing the musical behaviors of seven children under the age of two in both childcare and home settings, I sought to gain new insights that can inform parents, caregivers, and educators about the engagement with and possible functions of music for infants. The theories of Communicative Musicality and psychobiological needs informed this study and provided the lenses through which I observed infant musicality.
Data collection comprised semi-structured interviews with parents at home, interviews with teachers, weekly infant room observation fieldnotes, weekly infant music class video observations, parent and teacher diary entries, and artifacts such as memos, videos, and photos from the childcare and home settings. Data analysis involved identifying infant musical behaviors and their possible functions with respect to the child’s musical experience, framed as episodes. Through the use of portraiture, the individual music making of each infant was described within the contexts of the home, school, field observation, and music class settings, and relationships that developed through musical interactions were highlighted within the infant community.
Results indicate that vocal and movement behaviors were the most prominent behaviors identified overall, and communication had the highest frequency of all functions. In contrast to the school-based teacher and researcher field observation settings where vocal behaviors were high, movement behaviors were identified as most prevalent during music class. The child-centered emergent curriculum provided space for the infants to demonstrate choice and leadership by setting up musical toys, pointing to an instrument, moving to indicate direction in a song, bringing song books to adults, singing fragments of songs, participating on the periphery, and gesturing for more. Infants listened and engaged in music class by moving and playing instruments and displayed their attentiveness by later recalling and initiating these activities in other settings. Increased infant room vocalizations outside music time included those resulting from delayed imitation and extensions from music class. Music is a social endeavor wherein infants build community, motivating leadership, friendship, and kinship.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Custodero, Lori A.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 2, 2018