Research Projects Using Growing Up Data

The Musical Lives of Children in Aotearoa: Evidence from a longitudinal cohort study.

Publication Date:
Lead Organisation:
University of Auckland, University of Waikato
Lead Researcher:
Rebecca Evans, Bronya Dean, Fergus Byett, Maurice Cheng, Maya Gratier, Susan Morton, Twila Reid
Access Type:
Primary Classification:
Family and Whanau
Secondary Classification:
Psych and Cog

Infants’ earliest interactions are musical: before they can understand the meaning of words, infants understand the music of the voice. Parents and caregivers from around the world sing and play music to encourage prosocial behaviour, to teach cultural conventions, to entertain, and to facilitate routines and regulate emotions. A growing body of research shows that musical engagement can positively affect wellbeing, educational outcomes, and social and emotional competencies across the lifespan. However, studies have primarily focused on the effects of formal musical training, and the few studies of young children’s home music environments and everyday musical engagement have been small-scale qualitative studies with a limited demographic.

This study proposes to use data from GUiNZ to explore the musical lives of young children in Aotearoa New Zealand, how these change over time, and the factors that might influence them. Three measures of musical environments and engagement available in the GUiNZ data sets will be explored: musical responsiveness, musical interactions, and musical activities. Initial analyses will be descriptive, exploring different family situations grouped according to variables including main caregiver’s age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, parental mental health, and parental education. Subsequent analyses will explore longitudinal trajectories of musical engagement, to understand how children’s musical lives change over time. Finally, the intention is to identify any potential outcomes relating to specific emotional, social, cognitive, and cultural competencies; the overarching aim of this research being to map developmental trajectories that confer resilience and optimise development.