PPTA 2020

Pittsburgh Piano Teachers Association
16 September 2020

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.  http://www.pnas.org/content/110/1/70

Reference list for articles discussed in presentation:

Brandt, A., Gebrian, M., & Slevc, L. R. (2012).  Music and early language acquisition.  Frontiers in Psychology.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00327 .   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. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/infa.12114.

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.

Lordier, L., et.al. (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., et.al. (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).


Annie Jessy Curwen, 1898, Music TeachingThe Parents’ Review, Vol. 9, no. 7

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.

Midori Koga (2016).  Ti,  A Drink with Jam and Bread:  Developing Musical Understanding through Solfège.  American Music Teacher, April/May 2016.  Excellent article about teaching solfège before notation – “sound before sign.”


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.

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