Perceptions of Music Play Activities Performed by a Mother and Her Children

Alexandra R. Cotran, University of South Carolina - Columbia


The purpose of this research was to examine the music play activities performed by a mother, Dr. Ernst, and her children, John (age 3) and Sarah (age 6). The guiding research questions were (a) What types of music play activities did Dr. Ernst and her children perform when they were not in music play classes?; (b) How did Dr. Ernst describe those activities?; (c) What were Dr. Ernst’s observations of her children’s music development and learning?; (d) How did Dr. Ernst use and adapt music play activities learned in class for her children at home or elsewhere?; (e) How did Kat Arrasmith and Julia Beck, music play teachers of Dr. Ernst’s children, describe and interpret the Music Play activities Dr. Ernst and her children performed at home or elsewhere?; and (f) What recommendations does Dr. Ernst have for parents of young children who want to engage their children in music at home or elsewhere? The following three themes emerged from think-aloud interview transcript analysis: (a) John’s music play at home included defiance; (b) Dr. Ernst was a musical nurturer at home, and (3) Sarah’s music play at home included leadership. Though John’s music play seemed defiant, it was often in the meter and the tempo of the music play activity in which he and his mom were in engaged. Dr. Ernst was a musical nurturer in that she consistently provided positive feedback or praise to her children’s music making activities. She guided the children without trying to control the play. Sarah executed her understanding of the social rules of the music play activities and was a leader by directing the playful activity by almost acting like a parent.