Two studies of musical style sensitivity with children in early years

Nigel Marshall, Kagari Shibazaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we report on two studies carried out to further explore the level of listening and discriminatory abilities present in very young children through the development of an age appropriate methodology. Working with children aged between 3 and 4 years of age, our first study explored the level of performance achieved on a matching task using musical excerpts from the same piece of music within a number of commonly experienced musical styles. Our second study, further explored issues of stylistic discrimination and stylistic competence with similar age children but also explored associations between musical styles and types of people. Results of the study suggested that even three-year-old children were able to make accurate discriminations between musical styles through the use of a broad range of referential criteria and also, we observed that a number of ‘person type’ and gender associations already appeared to be present in the attitudes and experiences of participants. The two studies also raised some further questions about the interaction between the gender associations that young children appear to have not only with instruments but also with musical styles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-240
Number of pages14
JournalMusic Education Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2011


  • early years
  • style sensistivity
  • gender stereotypes

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