Practical Inclusion of Technology Resources in
Early Childhood Music Education 

2008 TI:ME National Music Technology Conference 
January 24-26, 2008
DeVos Place & Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
        Grand Rapids, Michigan
Friday, 8:30-9:15AM  PRESO 3  


Presenter: Dr. Fred Kersten

Documents passed out at session:
General Music Today Article

Research and Resources pertinent to this presentation

Musical priorities be be emphasized as you  prepare to teach with technology

*Overt, physical, psychomotor involvement in music activity is the priority response to, and with technology, rather than sedentary, inactive observation of technology output.

*Create music and obtain immediate musical feedback.

*Experience creative process with realistic aural sounds involving change of tempo, timbre and form.

*Compose and have immediate feedback of the creative process.

*Experience in REAL time music, created and experienced.

*Listening to music-- Teach to sort out and identify musical sounds from nature and man made environment sounds.

 *Imitation--caregivers can chant to children, (rhythm, vocal inflection). Children can   imitate sounds they make.

*Movement-- rocking patterns, moving to beat.

*Identify feelings and ideas that music communicates and focus on them.

*Expose children to diverse types and styles of music.

*Musical instruments fascinate young children. Infants should be encouraged to make their own music by experimenting with rattles and bells. (MENC good source)

 *Include playing and awareness activities for drums, xylophones, and shakers by using various movie clips from computer.

*Sing and play to musical backgrounds.                                                                                                         
* "Children learn best in pleasant physical and social environments. Music learning contexts will be most effective when they include (1) play, (2) games, (3) conversations, (4) pictorial imagination, (5) stories, (6) shared reflections on life events and family activities (7) personal and group involvement in social tasks.” (MENC Position Statement on Early Childhood Education) Technology can support the above-mentioned effective context considerations for ages 1 to 7. It allows multiple reinforcement modes, providing aural, visual, and kinesthetic opportunities for a pleasant learning atmosphere, high-quality music backgrounds, and realistic sound manipulation.


Appropriate Technology Inclusion in Developmental Music Learning Activities of Children--
How Much, How Soon??

*Can and should a child use the computer at chronological age three?

*Current thought emphasizes important developmental social/physiological aspects in the early years rather than computer/technology emphasis.

*Specifically, emphasis should be interaction with family members and physical exploration of the immediate surrounding world.

*“A great deal of the learning in using a computer at an early age comes from interaction between the child and the adult, not from the interaction with the computer.”      

*“Remember to plan for the important tasks of the early years before allowing children to be distracted by too much electronic stimulation." (The Northwest Educational Technology Consortium:)

Successful technology inclusion in music for young children depends on the physical, mental, and social readiness of each individual child.

“By the age of three, an appropriately-ready child “can” begin to use a computer and discovery-based software meaningfully with the help of an adult or older child.”

Observable Development Signs for technology integration readiness:                        
*Gross/Fine Motor Skills,
*Social/Emotional Maturity *Language/Cognition
*General Life Knowledge

Parental/Learning Provider Involvement

Parental involvement is a vital aspect for implementing technology inclusion in the musical endeavors of young children. Music specialists can clarify technology-inclusion techniques if they are specifically involved with students directly or collaborate with parents who have young children.

Certainly, technology emphasis for each situation will be different because of varied home environments and equipment provided; however, parents who concern themselves with technology involvement can easily facilitate initial exposure to music in some constructive manner. Either through parent organizations or separate sponsored sessions, illustrations of how music technology can be provided by parents can be made clear. This is especially true of activities that include using the Internet. Parents can offer guidance by showing children how to click and reinforce web musical interaction as it occurs. Music takes on a significant meaning when reinforced by the most important, primary-learning providers in the young child’s life.


Kids Click, Interact, and Learn  

 Social                                                                                                                                                                                                     *When When planning a music lesson, the learning provider must develop questions that will involve the learners in social interaction.                                                               
*Working with two or more children, or perhaps siblings, may be more helpful for some children than working with only one child. A combination of both types of interactive situations is recommended.                                                                    *Questions and dialogue can be oriented toward what the technology media is doing, that is, “What do you think is happening on the screen?” or “Describe what sounds are occurring and how they make you feel”                                                                    *Try to understand the personality, abilities, and needs of each child, and then draw upon this background to involve each learner in discussion or use of technology.                                                                                                                                    *Encouraging and reinforcing expression and self-esteem must be a central focus of the learning provider. Central questions that might be considered:                                                         
How can each child be personally motivated to be involved with the technology medium?       
How can each child satisfy self-esteem needs as technology experiences are provided?
*Try to ask questions that elicit a response from each child in a group “What happened when Johnny pointed the cursor at the clarinet?” “Was the sound loud or soft?”  “Can we make the music faster or slower?” “How do we know it is faster?" Can you show how fast with a hand motion?”                                                                                       
*Learning providers are very important in initiating the communicative atmosphere needed for experiencing music through technology. Without their efforts, technology will falter in supporting music learning with young children.  

Developing a Technology Music Corner

  *If using a media screen (videotape, computer, TV), provide chairs or cushions of appropriate height for each individual to allow eye-level contact with the screen.

   *Should a computer be utilized, try to include a wireless mouse on a surface that is at a comfortable height for relaxed hand movement.

  *Provide enough table space so the person providing computer guidance is able to sit next to the young child, reach the mouse, and demonstrate and view cursor techniques.

  *Are controls on the DVD and CD players convenient for manipulation by young children without the assistance of a learning provider? This is an important aspect to consider if including these devices in a music corner for operation by younger children.   

  *Select a toy keyboard instrument with appropriate size keys to fit the hand of the child who will use it. If contemplating software, are audio narrations provided in lieu of captions? If so, the software will be more user friendly, providing better perception and concentration opportunities for younger children.

*The dedicated music corner, whether at home or in the classroom, is a good place for children to participate in music activities. A well-lit, cheery, and spacious area with attractive music pictures should be provided. Keyboards, cassette recorders, drum pads, computer, videos, CDs, and DVDs can be included.

*Include basic rhythm instruments such as maracas, rhythm sticks, and small cymbals. It is also good to have a large set of instrument pictures.

*A video camera can be utilized periodically to capture lessons in the music corner, and if viewed on a television or video screen, they can provide an opportunity for the young learner to view the lesson again from a third-person perspective. This provides a great opportunity for review, social interaction, and reinforcement of learning.

*Audiocassette recorders allow songs to be recorded as young children sing. The tape can then be played for reinforcement and motivation. Dedicated prerecorded lessons can be developed by learning providers that are oriented to the specific needs of an individual child. A taped dialogue or narration can feature a specific child by name, his or her needs, abilities, and interests, and focus can be provided on songs that have been learned and music concepts to be reviewed. Activities with other children can help develop group social interaction in the music corner.

*Parents can provide opportunities for group contact by inviting friends of their young children to visit and experience activities in the music corner. Try to develop lessons specific to the background and knowledge of the children involved.


Web Resources for Download and Web Interaction

Symphony Orchestra sites such as New York Philharmonic Kids Zone.  -- includes Orchestration Station and Percussion Showdown. Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Kids Site  San Francisco Symphony           
Classics for Kids  

Instrument timbre awareness via online sites.                                    
*Backstage, produced by the American Symphony Orchestra, is a super page that portrays various instruments of the orchestra.  Included are short movie examples of older students playing the various instruments as well as sound illustrations.   The percussion site features a play and model game with an opportunity for score compilations. The game provides different levels of difficulty in addition to sound examples of percussion instruments.  Checkout  Instrument timbre exploration can also be done in Sibelius Groovy shapes and Pianomouse software.

*Science of Sound and Hearing-- From the 5-6 science page. Explore sound production, vibration, loud soft and means of physically producing sound (ages 5-6).  Good examples for illustrating musical vibrations, providing loud/soft discrimination, and showing how sounds can be produced.

Music Creativity online                                                                        
*, developed by Morton Subotnick, is a children's online creative music environment for children of all ages. It's a place for kids to compose music and interact with musical performance, music games, and music puzzles. This site provides music interaction opportunities for early childhood music. Pages feature: Musical Sketch Pad,  Rhythm Band  Games and Puzzles  Cartoon Conductor  Playing with Music Same or Different and Melodic Contour           

*The Playing with Music site is excellent for consideration of what can be accomplished by including technology in developing timbre awareness and creative composition.  The page is conceptual as children can experiment with slow/fast and forward/backwards.  “Playing with scales” allows the child to play scales using various timbres in major or minor featuring clarinet, oboe, or xylophone.   Early childhood children, with parent supervision, can do the clicking. Check out the following:                               

*PBS Kids provides opportunities for games, stories, music, and coloring. Check out Global Grovin an opportunity to see and hear multicultural instruments and also to compose with these and other sounds.  The  PBS music site allows listening and singing with songs and downloading of lyrics so that parents and teachers can print these out.  Other valuable sites such as Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and his theme are available with songs, lyrics and music, stories, and make believe.  Information is provided for parents including music in the lives of their children.

*Musical Passports from MENC This is a good page providing lessons and musical examples.  

*"totstv"from CBeebies from the BBC has a SUPER site for composing and recording tunes. It may be brought to full screen for working with little tots. You can also use the keyboard z,x,c,v,b,n,m keys. A great feature for retention of compositions is the record feature. Site location--                       

*JumpStart Reading with Karaoke A great site for work with integration of reading, music, and other subjects.

*Hop Pop Town is an experimental project that focuses on new technology and its potential for educational applications.  An example: Friends at the Happy Hill  Also look at: Singing Leaves 

*Educational music toys: Note the Learn through Music system as it helps students learn about music.

* Piano Player   This site has an interactive keyboard and features the scale.  Children participate in tone recognition by clicking on notes of the piano keyboard and there are quizzes associated with prior playing of the notes. If the note is played correctly, reinforcement is provided, and students know their selection was correct. This site requires both Flash and Shockwave plugins.

Childhood computer games and software emphasizing music 
*Of priority from  Morton Subotnick  is comprehensive software that parallels items found on his site. This includes: Making Music. Making More Music (age 8-up), Hearing Music (age 8-up) Playing Music). 

*Piano mouse  software includes instrument identification, basic music rudiments, and composer backgrounds. A feature to look for in early childhood software is narration found on this software.                                        

*ECS Media--ECSMusic Education Software A comprehensive source of music software for all aspects of music.  Check out the Kids Stuff section  .                      

*Sibelius Software. Groovy Music, Groovy Shapes (5-7), Groovy Jungle (7-9), Groovy City (9-11).

Keyboard Instrument Toys—Qualities to look for

Number of features available on electronic keyboards vary and usually depend on price.

· Some will play background accompaniment for singing.

· Several have microphone-reproduction capabilities, permitting young children to hear themselves sing through the keyboard speakers as a harmonic and/or rhythmic background is produced.

·  Many keyboards have a memory component and will record limited-length monophonic tunes, providing an opportunity for compositions to be recorded and evaluated after they have been created.

·  Others allow rhythms to be recorded on the built-in drum machine (a series of buttons with percussion instrument icons that may be played to produce various instrument sounds such as snare, bass, tom-tom drums, cymbals, and high hat).

·  Pressing the lower piano keys on some keyboards creates one-finger chordal accompaniments with rhythm background. As long as songs use basic tonic, subdominant, and dominant harmonies, it is possible to provide reasonably attractive accompaniments with one finger. Young children with learning-provider assistance can engage in this activity. 


Keyboards can be used for instrument-recognition activities, depending on the sound quality of the specific keyboard. Practical suggestions for using these instruments include the following:
    • Movement to music
    • Timbre identification
    • Recognition and experimentation with music elements
    • Singing and playing to music backgrounds
    • Personal awareness of musical achievement by recording songs that have been composed or improvised. 
When purchasing a keyboard, look for the following features:
    • Capability for song accompaniment tempo change.
    • High-quality timbral representation of brass, woodwind, string, percussion, and keyboard instruments.
    • Record and playback of compositions and rhythms played directly into instrument
    • Included musical games.
    • Incorporated drum machine—ability to record rhythms, and corresponding percussion instruments.
    • Appropriate piano key size to fit hand of player.
    • High-quality construction and durability.
    • Polyphonic ability of instrument—Can it play more than two notes harmonically at a time?
    • Preprogrammed tunes that are of musical value and in keys within child’s singable range. It may be better to spend a little more money initially to obtain a more durable item that has a higher quality of sound and more features, as the possibilities for utilization with additional activities become greater.