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Researchers develop a new research tool to assess musical enrichment in early years

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A new study published in the journal, PLOS ONE, and led by academics from Middlesex University London and Goldsmiths University of London presents the development and validation of a new research tool to assess the home musical environment in families with children under the age of five.

Lead author, Dr Nina Politimou from Middlesex University, says the research team developed the [email protected] questionnaire to provide researchers with a systematic instrument to assess the home musical environment from infancy to preschool years. She adds that while an increasing body of research reveals the beneficial effects of formal musical experiences on early cognitive and linguistic development, the majority of studies focus on musical training given in classrooms. However, for most children under five musical experience consists of singing songs, dancing, being exposed to recorded music and playing musical games in the home environment. Capturing the extent to which the home environment of young children is musically enriched provides future possibilities to understand whether this influences the development of, for instance, social or communicative abilities.

A total of 1060 parents of children under five participated in the development and validation of two versions of the [email protected] questionnaire, one for infants and one for preschool children. Both versions consist of different subscales such as: parent initiation of singing/music making, child’s engagement with music and parent’s beliefs about the importance of music for development. The study also investigates associations between the [email protected] and musical characteristics of parents such as musical training and personal engagement with music.

Dr Lauren Stewart from Goldsmiths added: “Now that we have developed a tool to capture individual differences in the musical home environment, it will be possible to use it to probe possible links to the development of non-musical capacities, such as language, that may benefit from early musical enrichment.”

The authors conclude: “This fine grained measure will provide researchers, for the first time, with the opportunity to quantify the extent to which the home environment of infants and preschoolers is musically enriched in specific ways and how this may influence development of non-musical capacities”

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About Middlesex University LondonFor nearly 140 years Middlesex University London has been home to innovators and change-makers. We are a progressive London university that puts our students first and provides expert teaching informed by inspiring research and practice.

We boast a diverse, multinational and multicultural community of 19,400 students from 144 different countries based at our modern north London campus. We also have campuses in Dubai, Mauritius and Malta, bringing our total number of students to almost 37,000 and staff over 1,900. Middlesex University London generates more than £300 million a year for the Barnet economy, supporting some 4,000 local jobs.

A university for skills, we work with employers to make sure that what our students learn is what employers need, and we strive to transform the lives of our students so that they have an excellent experience while they are with us, and a solid foundation for inspiring careers when they leave us.

About Goldsmiths University of LondonFounded in 1891, Goldsmiths, University of London is an institution with a rich academic history, known for its creative approach. Its 9,000 students are based on campus in the heart of south east London’s New Cross community, studying undergraduate, postgraduate, teacher training and return-to-study courses in the arts and humanities, social sciences, cultural studies, computing, and entrepreneurial business and management.

Goldsmiths research shapes the future, changes lives and is at the forefront of creative practice, with almost three-quarters of research rated internationally excellent or world-leading by the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. Overall, our Media and Communications Department was ranked third in the UK.

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