Description: Background music is often used in preschool classrooms with the belief that music makes children smarter and increases attention. The purpose of this study was to determine if background music increased children's focused attention during play activities. Focused attention occurs when children maintain attention to a task regardless of distractions. This quasiexperimental study investigated background music and play in a laboratory setting. I videotaped individual children during play with math manipulatives in a pretest-posttest research design with background music used as the treatment. Forty-three 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds played for 15 minutes. The first 5 minutes of play had no music (pretest), the second 5-minute play episode had background music (treatment), and the final 5-minute play episode had no background music (posttest). Data were analyzed using one-way repeated measures analysis of variance. Findings revealed that the subjects paid less attention to the play task with background music than they did during the pretest, with no music. Another key finding was that children with more musical experiences at home, as reported by the Child's Home Musical Experience Survey (CHIMES), exhibited longer periods of focused attention with background music. This study confirmed previous research that 3-year-old children have shorter focused attention than 4- and 5-year-old children with and without background music. These findings have implications for teachers and parents that background music, instead of increasing attention in children, might indeed decrease children's focused attention during play activities.
Date: December 2009
Creator: Dartt, Kevin Maurine