Measuring musical development

In this project, we aim at an extensive description of the ways in which children under seven years usually engage with music, and develop a test battery that is able to assess children’s growing expertise in different aspects of musical development.

Existing test batteries of children’s musical development are rarely designed in ways that young (and initially pre-verbal) children are able to take them. In addition, a large proportion of existing tests focus strongly on perceptual skill, but include little assessment of production (of rhythms, melodies, or movements), and none of them include measures of taste, judgment, or attitude towards music.

The project proceeds in three phases:

  1. As a first step, we crowd-source informal knowledge to gain a comprehensive picture of all aspects of children’s musicality: We conduct a survey among parents, educators, and music teachers—i.e., groups that have real-world insights into how children’s musical activities. This survey will provide us with a list of relevant aspects of music-related behaviors. Our musical development test will then be designed to cover all of these aspects.  
  2. We perform a systematic literature review to collect candidate test batteries and single-experiment test procedures for all relevant skills identified in step 1.
  3. The candidate test procedures we gained from step 2 are tested on 1–6 year old children, to determine which of the procedures are applicable, which ones require modification, and which ones need to be replaced by other, more child-friendly procedures. In addition, we develop test procedures for those music-related skills from step 1 that no test procedures exist for.