The Musical Responses of a Developmentally Delayed Child at Home and in a Music Class

Open Access
Markowski, Lauren Michelle
Area of Honors:
Music Education
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Joanne Rutkowski, Thesis Supervisor
  • Keith E Nelson, Faculty Reader
  • Michael Axtell, Honors Advisor
  • music education
  • developmental delays
  • musical responses
  • Music Play
The purpose of this study was to compare the musical responses of a developmentally delayed child in a group setting (surrounded by peers, parents, and music teachers) versus in a home/isolation setting (surrounded by parents/caregivers only). The questions explored were: 1.) How does the child respond to music? What is similar and/or different about these responses? 2). Does the child ever initiate musical responses? 3). With whom does the child musically interact? 4). Does the child’s musical initiation occur more frequently in the group setting or the home setting? 5). Does the presence of peers influence the kind of musical responses given by the child? How does the child respond to a large group of peers? How does the child respond to a small group of peers? How does this differ from how the child responds to adults? 6). How does the child respond differently to peers younger than him versus peers older than him? One child with developmental delays served as the case. “Will” and his mother were enrolled in an early childhood music class (Music Play) for the duration of this study. The researcher contacted the mother and music teacher of the child requesting their participation as well as that of the child. Data sources included field note observations, video recordings, parent and teacher journals, and parent and teacher interviews. Data collected during the spring semesters over the course of two years were transcribed and analyzed for patterns of musical behavior. The findings of this study are similar to other research on childhood developmental delays and music. The Music Play class provided “Will”, who had developmental delays and minimal peer interactions, an opportunity to engage with children his age while being exposed to music in an informal manner thus establishing a foundation for future musical experiences. The class allowed children with various learning behaviors to play together and be musically engaged with one another. Music education provides an adaptive and social environment for children of all developmental stages to interact with themselves and each other.