Music Development in Early Childhood: Two and Three-Year-Olds

Music Ed from Mr. Rob

Music Development in Early Childhood:

Two and Three-Year-Olds

Last week, we covered what to expect for infants and one-year-olds in their music development. This week we are talking about two and three-year-olds! 

Music Development in two and three year olds: pitch

Music Development in Two and Three-Year-Olds

This is an exciting age developmentally. Before this age, children are absorbing the musical sounds in their environment and responding physically or vocally without accuracy in response to music. Starting at approximately two years of age, children will begin to sing and keep the beat with some accuracy! They will also start to sing and dance by themselves, not only in response to hearing music. Children exhibiting this behavior are beginning to audiate, or "hear" music in their mind even when they are not physically hearing music out loud. Being able to audiate is a very important step in music development and crucial to eventually achieving Independent Music Accuracy. (See our next blog on four and five-year-olds!)

Three-year-olds are similar to two-year-olds in that we can expect the same types of responses, but with increasing accuracy. At three, more children will sing simple tonal and rhythm patterns accurately. Children will be able to sing an increasing number of songs in tune and will be able to stay on beat for longer durations. A very small percentage of three-year-olds may advance to Independent Music Accuracy, which is much more common among four-year-olds.

In addition to the behaviors listed previously, you may observe two and three-year-olds:

  • Echoing tonal and rhythm patterns with increasing accuracy
  • Singing short phrases of a song in tune, while singing other phrases not in tune
  • Distinguishing between different voices and instruments within a song
  • Demonstrating rhythm with body movements that will sometimes be in tempo to music in the environment
  • Suggesting activities and lyrics for songs when their teacher asks for substitution ideas
  • Enjoying marching, walking, dancing, jumping, running, twirling, skipping, tip-toeing, finger plays, and other physical activities while listening to and creating music
  • Enjoying playing a wide range of rhythm instruments. Just like with their body movements, their instrument play will sometimes be in tempo
  • Singing lyrics with increasing ease and enjoyment, and singing short phrases or entire songs with correct lyrics
Music Development in two and three year olds: Rhythm

Remember: Pitch and rhythm are two separate skills that often develop at different rates. This is why they are shown in two different infographics!


Click here for the next post in this mini-series: what to expect of four and five-year-olds!

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