The relationship between music and language achievement in early childhood
Harding, Judy Ann Hove
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In the fall of 1988, this study was conducted in the public schools of Helena, Montana, to see if a statistically significant relationship existed between the amount of musical experiences children had in early childhood and their language achievement as measured following the children's second year in elementary school. Parents of randomly selected third grade children completed the HOMES questionnaire to determine the musical experience of their children. Language achievement was determined by the CTBS scores in mechanical language, expressive language, reading, and spelling. Gender was also of interest in this study; therefore a two-way analysis of variance test was used with gender and musical experience being the two independent variables and one of the four language scores being the dependent variable. The test was run four times, once for each dependent variable. A chi-square test was also run to determine if either gender was given significantly more musical experience. Three hypotheses were tested for each language skill. No interaction of independent variables existed for any of the dependent variables, so main effects were tested for each. The high group for musical experience also was found to be significantly higher in language achievement for the skills of expressive language, reading, and spelling. Only mechanical language showed no such relationship. It was also the only skill area that did show a significant relationship to gender, with girls being higher. The chi-square test showed that girls received significantly more musical experience than boys. Because a strong relationship was found to exist between music and three areas of language development, it was recommended that parents, teachers, and other caretakers of young children provide environments rich in musical experience. Additionally, further research should be performed to determine which particular types of musical experience have the strongest relationship to language development.