Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis


School of Music


Music Education

First Advisor

Wendy Valerio


With the intent of understanding perceptions of early childhood music development, the purpose of this research was to examine parents’ observations of their young children during music classes after completing the Children’s Music Behavior Inventory (Valerio & Reynolds, 2015). My guiding research question was: How do knowledge of CMBI and viewing informal music class video recordings influence parents’ perceptions and understanding of their three-year-old children’s music behaviors and development during a two-month period?

Participants included five parents of three-year-old children in the 3B classroom at Bright Horizons, a preschool located in Columbia, South Carolina. During the data collection process, I used homogeneous intensity sampling, participant observation, multiple observers, and multiple data sources to investigate how parents observed and reported their child’s music behaviors. The guiding prompts and data sources included Children’s Music Behavior Inventory (Valerio & Reynolds, 2015), individual audiorecorded interviews regarding CMBI, video-recorded music engagements, individual audio-recorded think-aloud interviews, and parent participant exit questionnaires.

I transcribed and coded each data source and promoted internal validity and trustworthiness by using strategies discussed by Patton (2015), which include constant comparison, triangulation, member checks, and critical friend review. Emergent themes included the following: (a) parents first observed music behaviors and later, they observed subtle music behaviors, (b) parents observed social behaviors during the music engagement, (c) parents observed non-music learning through music engagement, (d) parents reported positive feelings, and (e) parents appreciated learning from CMBI, viewing video-recordings of their children in music engagements, and talking with me about their child’s music development.

Results of this study underscore the importance of parents’ understanding and recognition of their child’s music behaviors and music development. Parent participants shared valuable social and behavioral information that helped me understand their child’s social behaviors, personality, and attitudes. The parents also reported that the completion of CMBI and the opportunity to watch video-recorded music engagement sessions increased their awareness and understandings of young children’s music behaviors. As parents increase their ability to recognize music behaviors by using tools such as CMBI, by observing music engagement sessions, or by conversing with an early childhood music development specialist, they may be more likely to encourage and support those music behaviors. The more parents understand about young children’s music behaviors, the more likely they may be to recognize and support those behaviors by developing techniques and seeking opportunities to understand and promote their young child’s music behaviors and music development.