NCKP 2019

NCKP 2019
National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy
Westin Lombard Hotel
Lombard, Illinois
24 – 27 July

The Musical World of Infants:
what it can tell us about how children actually learn music

For further information, go to Categories in the right hand column of this page and scroll down to Brain hardwiring, Infants and music, and Infants and language.  That will link you to posts in which I have discussed these topics.

Music and Movement

Marko Ahtisaari.  Music and Movement.    from Sync Project, which investigates the therapeutic effects of music on the body and mind.

Bob Yirka.  Study shows brain processing similarities between music and movement.  This is a short snyopsis of the Sievers and Polansky article below that has found that the brain uses the same neural networks to process music and movement.  That would explain why babies like to move to music.

Sievers, B., et. al. (2012).  Music and movement share a dynamic structure that supports universal expressions of emotion.

Music and Emotion

Marko Ahtisaari.  Music and Emotion.  from Sync Project.

Reference list for articles discussed in presentation:

Brandt, A., Gebrian, M., & Slevc, L. R. (2012).  Music and early language acquisition.  Frontiers in Psychology. .   If you have time to read only one article, read this one.

Corbeil, M., Trehub, S., & Peretz, I. (2015). Singing delays the onset of infant distressInfancy.  DOI: 10.1111/infa.12114.

Curwen, Annie Jessy, 1898, Music TeachingThe Parents’ Review, Vol. 9, no. 7. Wonderful article written by a piano teacher in 1898.

Gerry, D, Unrau, A, and Trainor, LJ (2012). Active music classes in infancy enhance musical, communicative and social development. Developmental Science, 15(3), 398-407 View Abstract

Hannon, E. E., & Trehub, S. E. (2005). Tuning in to musical rhythms: Infants learn more readily than adults.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 102, 12639-12643.

Hannon, E. E., & Trehub, S. E. (2005). Metrical categories in infancy and adulthoodPsychological Science16, 48-55.

Koga, Midori. 2016. A Drink with Jam and Bread: developing musical understanding through solfege.  American Music Teacher.  April/May:  8-12.

Lordier, L., (2019). Music in premature infants enhances high-level cognitive brain networks.  Proceedings of the National academy of Sciences, 116(4).

Partanen, E., Kujala, T., Tervaniemi, M., & Huotilainen, M. (2013).  Prenatal Music Exposure Induces Long-Term Neural Effects.  PLoS ONE, 8(10).

Phillips-Silver, J. & Trainor, L. J. (2005).  Feeling the beat:  Movement influences infant rhythm perception.  Science,  308(5727), 1430.

Trehub, S. E. (2010). In the beginning: A brief history of infant music perceptionMusicae Scientiae.

Trehub, S. E. (2001). Musical predispositions in infancyAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 930, 1-16.

Winkler, I., (2009).  Newborn infants detect the beat in music.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(7).

Zentner, M., & Eerola, T. (2010).  Rhythmic engagement with music in infancy.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(13).


Steven Mithen. 2006.  The Singing Neanderthals:  the origins of music, language, mind, and body


Edwin GordonNational Conference for Keyboard Pedagogy Keynote, 2015.  Gordon believed all humans have a potential for music achievement, that we are born with varying degrees of aptitude for music and that we develop this aptitude through audiation, or the ability to “think in music.”  He  was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the National Conference for Keyboard Pedagogy in summer 2015.  Ill health prevented him from being there, but his talk was read in his absence and is linked here.


I didn’t link to any of the videos of babies dancing.  If you’re interested, do a Google Videos search for “dancing babies.”  You will find about 6 million videos to watch.

Three-year old Kazuma playing Taiko

5-yr old Isaiah Chevrier playing djembe

Isaiah Chevrier at 4 months.   If you watch Isaiah at 4 months, and then at 5 years old, you see the importance of parental or caregiver involvement in making music with an infant.

Bird bone flute.  Video of the flute I showed from 35,000 – 40,000 years ago – in pentatonic tuning.


Brainvolts  is the name of the website for the Auditory Neuroscience Lab at Northwestern University, directed by Nina Kraus.  From the website:

Making music changes the brain, with tangible impact on listening, language, learning, social connection and cognition. Most research has focused on children taking private lessons. Through multiyear partnerships with inner-city schools and community programs, the Kraus Lab tells a new and promising story.

Everything on the site is fascinating, but as a start, click on the Music box on the home page.  That takes you to two presentations, one on Music and the Brain, and the other on Rhythm in the Brain.  Both presentations show that music has a significant impact on language and reading skills.

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