Laying the foundations for lifelong family music practices through Music Early Learning Programs

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To lay the foundations for lifelong musical practices, parents need to feel confident using music as a part of their everyday parenting. Music Early Learning Programs (MELPs) can empower parents to use music by laying the foundations for family-based active music-making. Little is known about why parents attend, however, what their aspirations are for their child’s musical engagement now and in the future, or how attendance shapes the way they use music at home. This study investigated parental beliefs, aspirations, and use of music in the home by five families and identified MELP structures that support parenting. The longitudinal case study approach drew on ethnographic methods of data collection. Reasons for attending MELPs were a high value for music, belief that music supports child development, enriched family relationships, and social support. Parental hopes and aspirations from attendance included laying the foundations for lifelong engagement with music. Six MELP structures shaped the way parents used music in the home: voice leading, repertoire, models of interaction, models of attunement and emotional regulation, music use to structure behavior, and models of improvisation. Parental use of MELP experiences at home included singing, music to regulate, and music to scaffold learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1059-1079
Number of pages21
JournalPsychology of Music
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • early childhood
  • Music Early Learning Program
  • music education
  • music in the home
  • music therapy

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