Practitioners' strategies for enhancing early childhood music education in Taiwan
The purpose of this study was to describe practices of pre-school educators and to investigate the extent to which they enhance music instruction among five-to-six-year-old children. This was accomplished through an examination of three early childhood educators investigating what strategies are used for providing music instruction to pre-school children, the attitudes of teachers and parents in regard to this, the most effective approach for providing music instruction, and the assessments used to measure student progress in achieving musical skills. Primary participants included three early childhood teachers, and secondary participants included nine parents. Qualitative methods were used, including formal interviews with the three chosen teachers. They were each interviewed one time individually. Parents were given open-ended questionnaires designed by the researcher. Observations of teacher interactions with students were conducted in 14 separate sessions over a period of three weeks, where the researcher sat in during general and music class in the same classroom; the field notes cataloged observations of musical activities. The collected documents included teaching materials developed by the music and classroom teachers, such as lesson plans and a teaching activity handbook. The Taiwanese pre-school music curriculum included singing, music and movement, listening, and playing musical instruments. Data indicated that children can only audiate to one instrumental sound or one melodic line at a time. The teacher provided feedback was found to be effective in enhancing student musical learning. Teachers served as musical models in singing, music and movement, and in playing instruments to assist children's musical learning. Bruner's theory of enactive and iconic modes of representation played an important role in singing, music and movement, as well as listening in the class. The model movements or gestures were presented by the teachers and imitated by the children. Teachers and parents had positive attitudes toward early childhood music education. When music classes were provided, the music teacher could enhance both the classroom teacher and children's musical skills. Effective approaches were storytelling and using body movements. Participants reported several different opinions regarding teachers' assessment of students including having teachers follow the national curriculum standard, assess her students through their classroom response, and observe her students at a graduation concert. In general, the practitioners' strategies for enhancing pre-school music education were positive and related to previous research findings on music instruction and educational theories.