Music Development in Early Childhood:
Four and Five-Year-Olds
In this blog mini-series we have covered what to expect of infants and one-year olds in their music development, what to expect of two and three-year-olds, and today we will cover our final group: four and five-year-olds! This is a super-exciting stage where children start to reach the ultimate goal of "Independent Music Accuracy." Not sure what that means? Read on!
Music Development in Four and Five-Year-Olds
Ages four and five are when many children will progress to Independent Music Accuracy*! So what is it?
In regards to pitch, Tonal Independent Music Accuracy means that children are able to sing familiar songs in tune by themselves, and match pitches when singing along with others or a recording.
In regards to rhythm, Rhythmic Independent Music Accuracy is when children are able to sing songs with rhythmic accuracy, match the beat when playing or singing with others, and move their body in time to music they are listening to.
Because pitch and rhythm are two different skills that often develop at different rates, it’s important to remember that tonal and rhythmic accuracy are not tied together. Children typically achieve tonal and rhythmic accuracy at different times, sometimes years apart. This is completely normal and healthy.
*Please note that not all children will be able to reach one or both types of Independent Music Accuracy. We are all born with a range of aptitudes, and that's ok! The best thing that you can do to help your child get there is to attend Music Class from a young age. Being immersed in an interactive, varied, complex musical environment, practicing pitches and rhythms through many different activities, taking part in the creative practice of music making in class and at home; all of this will ensure that your child will reach the highest level of their potential.
In addition to the behaviors listed previously, you may observe 4 and 5 year-olds:
Singing phrases within a song, or an entire song, with accurate pitch
Demonstrating rhythmic accuracy that ranges from occasionally matching the beat they are listening to, to consistently matching the beat
Enjoying playing a wide range of rhythm instruments. As with body movements, rhythmic accuracy will range from occasionally matching the beat to consistently matching the beat
Memorizing lengthy and complex lyrics
Being eager to suggest many activities and lyrics for songs when the teacher asks for substitution ideas. (The teacher may have to set a limit of one idea per child per song in order to control the length of substitution songs)
Echoing tonal and rhythm patterns with accuracy ranging from rarely accurate to always accurate
Identifying by sight or sound common instruments such as violin, flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, and drums
When comparing two pitches, indicating which is high and which is low by showing high or low with hand movements
Indicating when notes performed are correct or incorrect when listening to familiar songs or phrases
I hope you've enjoyed this mini-series on music development!
See you next time in Music Class,