A few months ago, I enrolled my youngest child in “parent and me” group swimming lessons. The lessons followed a same sequence: warm up game and song, exercises and games to improve kicking and breathing, floating, and balancing one’s body over a large board and then jumping into a parent’s arms. A fair amount of songs and nursery rhymes accompanied all activities. As the weeks unfolded and the sequence of activities became familiar, I began to observe parents as they interacted with their children, the instructor, and other parent-child dyads. Having worked with young children before, I was comfortable with the instructions and activities. But I could tell that some parents in the class did not exhibit the same level of comfort. Some parents were clearly reluctant to engage in some of the exercises when the instructor was not near them; others would not sing or would engage minimally in the collective games. Of course, such reluctance could be attributed to parental concerns with children’s safety in the water. But what I witnessed in the pool was also very familiar; I had seen similar scenes before, in my early childhood music classes. From these informal observations, I strengthened my belief that parental involvement and participation in group classes is far more complex and important than most of us appear to believe. As we know, parental involvement is central to children’s musical experiences. Yet, these issues are seldom discussed in the music education literature.
To stir some debate on parental participation in music education, this issue of Perspectives begins with an article by Christa Kuebel on ways to overcome barriers to adult participation in music classes.Next, Icelandic early childhood music education expert Helga Gudmundsdottir reviews research concerning the musical abilities of infants and toddlers. The third article featured in this issue is written by Kirstina Collins, who shares some ideas on movement activities with young children. This issue also includes a research review by Judith Sullivan, a book review by Nita Baxani, and the Research within Reach column by Angela Barker. Altogether, the texts are both informative and inspiring.
I end this letter by inviting you to submit your ideas to Perspectives. Do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions about the submission process. The submission guideline is available on the ECMMA webpage.