Music early learning programs: enduring outcomes for children and their families

Margaret S. Barrett, Graham F. Welch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Music early learning programs (MELPs) that provide music services to parents and carers of children aged birth through 8 years are proliferating. Parents make significant financial and social investments in MELPs, yet little is known of their motivations and aspirations nor of the enduring outcomes of participation. This article reports the findings of an interview study with 10 parents, 1 grandparent, and 8 child former participants in a MELP program in regional Australia that investigated perceptions of MELP participation. Findings indicate that parents come from a range of musical backgrounds. Reasons and aspirations for MELP enrolment encompass developing both parents’ and children’s musical skills, providing social benefits for parent and child, exposure to musical experience, value-adding to their child’s education and expanding the family social circle. Enduring outcomes include developed music knowledge and skills, future investments, physical and emotional development, and new patterns of learning that are potentially transferable. Findings suggest that children arrive at formal schooling with a rich repertoire of music, a capacity to engage in embodied musical experience, and a set of expectations concerning their participation in music. Such knowledge holds implications for the ways in which music learning might be structured within the early childhood classroom.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology of Music
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 Oct 2020


  • early childhood
  • infancy
  • learning
  • lifespan
  • music early learning programs (MELPs)
  • parents
  • singing
  • wellbeing

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