The effects of music experience during early childhood on the development of linguistic and non-linguistic skills

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Music Education

First Committee Member

Joyce Jordan - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Robert C. Fifer - Committee Member


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of early exposure to music on the development of linguistic and non-linguistic skills by assessing aspects of intellectual abilities in young children aged three to five years. Specifically, this project sought to measure whether children exposed to varying durations of music and diverse qualities of musical instruction in the preschool years exhibited differences in the development of linguistic and non-linguistic skills. The tools used to assess their linguistic and non-linguistic development were select subtests of the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Ability-Revised (WJ-R) psychological battery. Two surveys were used to calculate the length of time children were exposed to music. One survey was designed for parents, and the other survey gathered data from classroom teachers where the children attended preschool.Three hundred seven participants in Miami-Dade County, Florida were included in the sample, of which 156 were females and 151 were males. Of this sample, there were 72 three-year-old children, 110 four-year-old children, and 125 five-year-old children. Parents or primary caregivers of all 307 children completed the surveys. The teacher survey was completed by 25 preschool teachers where the children attended preschool. In addition, the investigator completed one teacher survey form for each of the twenty-five preschool teachers during the scheduled time for music instruction for the three-, four-, and five-year-olds.Results of the study indicated that there was a significant association between the participant's quantity of a child's musical exposure and his/her linguistic and nonlinguistic skills as measured by the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Ability-Revised. The results also demonstrated that a significant association existed within each socio-economic status level and the participants' subtest scores on the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Ability-Revised. Data analyses disclosed that there were no overall gender differences of the three-, four-, and five-year-olds who participated in this study.


Education, Music

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