Effect of Music Instruction on Preschoolers’ Music Achievement and Emergent Literacy Achievement

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2012

Publication Title

Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education


The purpose of this two-year study, supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), was to examine the impact of "musically trained" early childhood specialists on the music achievement and emergent literacy achievement of preschool students. The sample, obtained through use of a letter of recruitment mailed to a regional group of National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) members, consisted of 11 teachers who met the criteria for the project and their respective students ( N = 165). Following a year of intensive staff development training in musicianship skill and pedagogical strategies for guiding young children's music development, the teachers implemented the curriculum in the second year and several measures were used to collect data relative to student music and literacy outcomes. Analyses included the nonparametric Mann-Whitney U-test and multivariate techniques of MANCOVA and multiple regression. Results were mixed for music achievement. Median scores were similar for the experimental and control groups on use of singing voice. Students' tonal pattern achievement in the experimental group was significantly higher but no significant differences were found in children's rhythm-pattern achievement. When controlling for age and prior knowledge, the music intervention significantly increased children's oral vocabulary and grammatic understanding and was especially effective for children who began with lower literacy skills.

Original Citation

Runfola, M., Etopio, E., Hamlen, K., & Rozendal, M. (2012). Effect of music instruction on preschoolers’ music achievement and emergent literacy achievement. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 192, 7-27. doi:10.5406/bulcouresmusedu.192.0007