I received a professional development bursary from Soundwaves, the South West Early Years Music Network funded by Youth Music. Here's the report I've written which may be of interest to members of this discussion group.
Early years musician and freelance evaluator, Nell Farrally, writes about her experience of using research to improve her music practice.
I’m an early years musician, project development specialist and freelance evaluator based in Wiltshire. I received a Soundwaves Bursary towards the travel costs for a Postgraduate Certificate in Evaluation Studies course at the University of South Wales. The summative assessment for the course is a 15,000 word dissertation about a research topic related to the students’ work or workplace. I wanted to focus on a topic that was relevant to both my early years music practice and evaluation work, therefore I decided to explore the value of quantitative data collection tools in early years group music-making.
A significant part of the dissertation is the literature review - an overview of published material about the chosen research topic. The purpose of the literature review is to not only give a background to the research topic, but also to critically appraise peer-reviewed research and provide a context for ones’ own research. Whilst I’ve always read research which is relevant to my early years music practice, undertaking this literature review is the first time I’ve delved into research with such depth. It’s stimulated a lot of reflection on my work with young children and influenced how I plan and deliver musician-led sessions.
What follows here are some edited bits of my literature review which highlight some of the key points I’ve drawn from research which has relevance to my practice. It’s not intended to be a complete overview of research into early years music, but it may prove a useful introduction for musicians and early years practitioners who aren’t familiar with research. After that there are some thoughts about how it’s influenced my practice.
Many of the points below concern issues I’ve encountered either through working directly with children, observing other musicians and practitioners, or from the musical experiences of my own children. It’s been really satisfying to place things I believe or think I know within a theoretical framework.